R.I.P. Fred Steiner

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    Composer Fred Steiner, who did the music for more episodes of the original Star Trek than any other composer assigned to the show (and as such was also the most frequently “quoted” composer when that music was made part of the show’s constantly reused library), had died at the age of 88.

    After turning in the scores for a handful of episodes – and of course the main theme – in the first season, Alexander Courage had a falling out with Gene Roddenberry (likely over Roddenberry’s insistance on writing lyrics for the Star Trek theme without Courage’s knowledge/permission, which, even if they were never sung, guaranteed Roddenberry 50% of the royalties for the use of that theme), and Steiner wound up filling the most composing assignments. Among his original scores for the series were The Corbomite Maneuver, Charlie X, Mudd’s Women, Balance of Terror and Mirror, Mirror – some of the best-remembered (and most frequently reused) music in the series. Steiner was the one who really lent the show its “nautical” feel, something which later composers like James Horner picked up on and amplified even further.

    In 1987, Steiner became the only composer to handle episodes of both the original Star Trek and ST:TNG with the score for the embarrassingly bad episode Code Of Honor (“there shall be no vaccine and no Lt. Yar!”). He had also done arrangement work on the first Star Trek movie for Jerry Goldsmith in 1979, but rumors have persisted for many years that he was upset that he wasn’t given the task of scoring the first film himself.

    He composed the theme music and most of the episodes of the series Perry Mason, and also worked on such shows as The Twilight Zone, Rawhide, Gunsmoke and Hawaii Five-O. Film work included The Color Purple, and arrangements for movies like Gremlins 2, Cloak & Dagger, and Mrs. Doubtfire.

    You can glance down a list of released Trek music from Fred Steiner in our music reviews section.

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