3 best pieces of Star Trek music by Jerry Goldsmith

1/15/2000 Los Angeles, Ca Composer Jerry Goldsmith At Spago's Restaurant. (Photo By David Keeler/Getty Images)
1/15/2000 Los Angeles, Ca Composer Jerry Goldsmith At Spago's Restaurant. (Photo By David Keeler/Getty Images) /
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Jerry Goldsmith fundamentally shaped the Star Trek sound.

On January 8, music lovers and moviegoers worldwide celebrated composer John Williams on his 90th birthday. But Williams isn’t the only great Hollywood film composer who was born in the second week of February. The late Jerry Goldsmith, who died in 2004, would have turned 93 today, February 10.

John Williams hasn’t scored any Star Trek productions—yet. With Star Trek’s production schedule ramping up and Williams’ schedule showing no signs of slowing, hope remains!

But John Williams did make an indirect contribution to Star Trek. His triumphant Star Wars score in 1977 paved the way for the classical, symphonic scores heard in the Star Trek movies, starting with Jerry Goldsmith’s Academy Award– and Golden Globe-nominated score for Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979).

In their liner notes for La-La-Land Records’ limited edition of the TMP soundtrack, Jeff Bond and Mike Matessino write:

"Essentially a modernist throughout the first half of his career, Goldsmith made a shift into romanticism with Star Trek. John Williams’ success on Star Wars, emphasizing the familiarity rather than the strangeness of outer space (postmodernism, rather than modernism), had changed the culture [of film music]."

Bond and Matessino go on to quote Goldsmith as saying he treated all the Star Trek films he scored “in a more musically romantic way rather than being very avant-garde.”

Decades later, it’s hard to imagine Star Trek without the grand, epic, romantic melodies Jerry Goldsmith created for it. His rousing TMP Main Title theme, joined with Alexander Courage’s original series fanfare, became the theme for Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987-1994). Goldsmith used it in each of the four subsequent Trek movies he scored:

  • Star Trek V: The Final Frontier (1989)
  • Star Trek: First Contact (1996)
  • Star Trek: Insurrection (1998)
  • Star Trek: Nemesis (2002)

And Jerry Goldsmith won an Emmy Award for composing the theme for Star Trek: Voyager (1995-2001).

Given all the beautiful and stirring music Jerry Goldsmith composed for Star Trek, picking the best pieces is a daunting task.

But let’s listen again to three musical moments from Maestro Goldsmith that forever formed how we fans hear the final frontier.