Star Trek IV Composer Dies at 83

Leonard Rosenman, the composer for Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, died today at the age of 83. Rosenman, a two-time Oscar and Emmy winner, died of a heart attack at the Motion Picture & Television Country House and Hospital in Woodland Hills, CA. His score for Star Trek IV received an Oscar nomination; the only other Trek music to be nominated was Goldsmith’s TMP score.

Quote’s on Rosenman and his Trek score:

Leonard Rosenman was probably equal to Jerry Goldsmith in his understanding of the science fiction genre–he did seminal work in this area, in particular on Fantastic Voyage which is arguably one of the greatest science fiction scores ever written, and in taking over the Planet of the Apes series that Goldsmith started. He had an immediately recognizable style which is impressive in itself given that he favored writing very forward-thinking, often atonal music. His Star Trek IV score was unique in the Trek canon, mixing his rumbling science fiction style with a bright opening march that was both adventurous and in keeping with the movie’s comic tone–and he managed to add both classical references and jazz fusion to the mix. Rosenman was an uncompromising musician who was very at home in the concert world–he was at work on a symphony for dinosaurs late in his career and no less a figure than John Adams praised his film work and conducted some of it for album presentation. Rosenman was opinionated and therefore controversial, but he was inarguably one of the most important figures in film composition and one of the very first to introduce modernism, serial technique and atonal composition to the genre.
– Jeff Bond, author of “The Music of Star Trek

The shortest of all Star Trek scores, Rosenman’s music for Star Trek IV still retains the bold, somewhat seafaring flavour of James Horner’s previous work while giving it a lighter, less intensive texture displayed no better than in his ‘Main Title’. STIV score review

Sci-fi and fantasy films proved especially receptive vehicles for Rosenman’s musical ideas: A bizarre choral “Mass for The Holy Bomb” for Beneath the Planet of the Apes (1970); eerie marches and wild battle music for the Golden Globe-nominated score for Ralph Bakshi’s animated version of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings (1978); and a delightful, Oscar-nominated score for Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986) that incorporated a joyous, Bach-style fugue for the endangered whales that the Enterprise crew must rescue in the time-traveling plot..
Film Music Society Obituary

Star Trek IV Soundtrack available at Amazon
(click to hear samples)

About Mr. Rosenman
Leonard Rosenman is credited with bringing a more contemporary approach to film music during the 1950s and 1960s. He began composing for film when director Elia Kazan hired him to score the 1955 classic East of Eden. He went on to score such films as Rebel Without a Cause, Pork Chop Hill, Fantastic Voyage, Beneath the Planet of the Apes and Battle for the Planet of the Apes. His musical cues can also be heard on TV shows like The Twilight Zone, Combat!, and Marcus Welby, MD. Rosenman won back-to-back Oscars for adapting the song scores for 1975’s Barry Lyndon and 1976’s Bound for Glory. He later received an Oscar nod for 1983’s Cross Creek before being nominated for Star Trek IV. He also won 2 Emmy Awards for scoring the TV movies Sybil and Friendly Fire and was nominated by the Golden Globes for the 1978 animated version of The Lord of the Rings. His more recent scores include Robocop 2 and The Color of Evening. Rosenman suffered from a degenerative brain condition called Frontotemporal dementia in his later years, but continued to write music nonetheless.

More on Rosenman: IMDb | Memory Alpha | StarTrekSoundTracks

Rosenman Obituaries:  Variety | Film Music Society


“The Enterprise” from Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home


Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

R.I.P. Leonard

voyage is still one of my favorite soundtracks. lots of TOS shined through on
this one.

Very sad news. Another of the Hollywood greats exits. We need more Leonard Rosenmans.

We will always have the music.

The soundtrack and musical score is always one of the most important aspects to any film.

R.I.P. Leonard

A great loss. My condolences to his family

My Deepest Sympathy – – –

One of the best musical scores in the films.

Everybody goes. Not everyone leaves something wonderful behind.

Best to his family.

the cover of the soundtrack, and i believe it was also a teaser poster, was the lamest, most insulting of them all. the worst use of font in history.

good score, but a bit cartoonesque at time (not that this would be the composer’s fault, it’s what nimoy wanted). the music for chekov’s escape might have fit for elmer fudd chasing daffy duck.

i always thought the sound DESIGN was amazing in this film, lots of very cool work with the probe and whale themes, communication and time warping, etc.

I only discovered recently that Rosenman’s STAR TREK IV soundtrack seems to have some very vocal, adamant detractors. I was very surprised by this. Yes, TMP and TWOK will always be the 2 best TREK scores ever, but I very much enjoy Rosenman’s TVH score. Not nearly as bad as some here have made it out to be.

#7 –

Sorry, but I also enjoyed the original teaser poster for TREK IV. Much better than NEMESIS, that’s for sure…

The score for STIV was nealy identical in parts to his score for the 1978 animated version of Lord of The Rings. Just an interesting tid bit of info.

I love that score. This is sad indeed. Luckily, his works will live on the heart of us fans.

#8 No one can be too big a detractor of the score. It WAS nominated for an Oscar. Personally, I believe it ranks up there with the best of Goldsmith and Horner’s works and far superior to Cliff Eidelmann’s ST6 score and Dennis McCarthy’s work wasn’t much more than an overblown TV movie score, which was very befitting the content of the movie.

sorry but i disagree, people can say what they want….lol….what kid of statement is that… Just because somthing is nominated for an oscar dosn’t mean it can’t be critiqued too much…..
I think its a decent score, but I think too similar to the animated LOTR, and I dont mean reminicent …I mean its literally the same score in large parts.

its always sad to see anyone die, really sucks.

Tis sad… ST IV was my favorite of all the movies. All my friends who are non-Trekkies love it, too. It’s such a great movie. THAT was the true Trek-for-all movie that I don’t think even Abrams will be able to mimic. It was about saving whales, what can be better or more random for Trek?

It had the best score out of all the movies, too.

He lived long and he prospered.

Condolences to his family. I enjoyed the score for ST IV quite a bit.

The adventure continues…

I hated the Star Trek 4 score, but Fantastic Voyage was a great score.
Very well done.
The man was obviously very talented and his loss will indeed be felt, but Jerry Goldsmith was a genius.
May they both rest in peace.

While I was not a big fan, his music will still be missed. First Goldsmith, now Rosenman…folks, we lose another great maestro.

I really liked the score to IV, had a real upbeat, fresh feel to it…

Whatever people make of his score for Star Trek IV, he will be missed.

I’ll remember him for The Fantastic Voyage.

It was a different score, but it was a different kind of Trek movie. It fit perfect, and it gave the movie such *character*. Bye, man.

was just horrible..

re: 10

It’s hard to find a composer’s work that doesn’t sound like his or her previous works.

Battle Beyond the Stars and Krull sound much like other Horner works.
McCarthy’s Generations sounds much like his underscores from TNG (still crippled by the stern hand of Rick Berman’s dislike of Leitmotif).
Goldsmith’s ST scores all reminded us of his passion for electronic sounds, be they synth voices, or other electronica

Rosenman’s score was not my favorite of the series, not by a longshot. I do like it though, as I feel his lighter moments fit the mood of the film perfectly.

Damn. RIP, great score.

I get a hint of Lord of the rings music from his score.. Though Ioved the movie the music was eh.

It’s sad news that he is gone, and he was a talented composer and all. But i remember when Star Trek IV came out, that I was disappointed that James Horner didn’t do the Voyage Home score. Star Trek II, III, and IV belong together, and it would have matched so much better with the first two if Horner had done IV as well. Maybe he was too busy at the time; I don’t know. But James Horner’s scores for II and III are still amazing to listen to. Rosenman’s Trek score, despite the academy award nomination, wasn’t nearly as amazing for me.

Yeah I always loved his score for TVH. I think I’ll have to buy that soundtrack again. The CD I had of it was stolen from me a few years back. :(

Great composer. A daring and stubborn artist at times. Requiescat in pace.

I read an interview Rosenman did with STARLOG back in the day and he gave a very candid, sometimes brutal assessment of the film series’ scores up until that point. I always appreciated his talent and I offer his friends and loved ones my sympathies.

Besides Star Trek IV, I always thought his score for “The Car” was as important to that film as John Williams’ score for “Jaws” was. I remember playing the soundtrack for “The Car” while learning to drive in highschool and being forced to turn it off because it was causing me to drive faster.

Rest in peace. ST IV is the only sound track i have managed to buy over the years . Awesome score , I especially loved the hospital chase theme. The music had an upbeat quality to it , when the credits roll you feel happy , not only for seeing an entertaining film but for the wonderful score. He was a rare gem.

We come here to celebrate the life of a man who, through his unique artistic insights, was able to find that one little window of opportunity within a few frames of cinematic tension and epiphany, and drive the film-goers’ emotional expectations right through it in a crescendo of glass. RIP, Leonard. And tell Jimmy and De that we at said, ‘Here’s to ya, lads’.


Very sad. A real loss.

RIP Leonard, I’ll always remember your great, upbeat, bombastic score for The Voyage Home :-)

As already stated. I thouroughly enjoyed your music!!! What a loss.

TVH had a great score, one that was appropriate for the tone of the film. There seems to be a tendency to dislike the unique themes in the Trek films – TVH & TUC, imparticularly. I suppose I liked those scores for the fact that they were so different from what we’d come to expect. So here’s to Rosenman, his unique talent will surely be missed.

Condolences to Mr. Rosenman. Tango likes music.

Said his work leaned toward atonal music. That’s funny. His theme to ST IV is anything but that. It’s the most tonal and the least use of dissonance of all the scores. I wasn’t aware that was him on the later Planet of the Apes stuff. Always liked it.

Too many good ones have left us lately. Elmer Bernstein a couple years ago. Michael Kamen year before that. Basil Poledouris last year. Shame.

The Ballad of the Whale was the only song from a Trek soundtrack that I ever heard on the radio. He obviously did something better than the other Trek composers!

Rest in peace, Leonard. THank you for leaving such a fabulous body of work.

That is too bad. Me and my family just watched Star Trek IV last night. I just told them. We are all very sorry to hear this. Star Trek IV is the only Star Trek movie my family will watch. It may not mean much, but all our condolences are given.

Always wondered if Nimoy picked Rosenman due to his COMBAT! (TV show with Nimoy friend Vic Morrow as Sgt. Saunders) connections. That show had many good episodes, some of the best were directed by Vic Morrow. Nimoy guest starred in several episodes of that show.

Alive or dead, the score for Trek IV was nearly as good as the movie. He used a lot of the themes from his score to Lord of the Rings (not Jackson films). I think a lot of Trek IV suffered from not having a heavy and as a result the score reflected the light and extremely uneventful and boring movie. Not Roseman’s fault, he just did a good job of reflecting the shit movie with a score that sounds like a funeral march to a bunch of gay Leprachauns that nobody misses.

Star Trek the Voyage home was not a perfect movie but it was entertaining, the musical score was perfect, all things considered.

speaking of ST IV, where it was a good movie, it was to much of a family fun goodie movie (save the whales) and I really hope ST 11 does not turn out like that, even though JJ & Co wants to reach a broader audience. Also, not to mention the stupid comedy in the movie ( scotty hitting his head etc) BTW I really didn’t like spock in that movie, if I remember correctly, didn’t he smile while crossing the street. I may have my details incorrect, since I have not seen the movie in a while, but I dont think so, if so my apologies.

Just my 2 cents.

But a great talent has been lost, to bad.

Rest In Peace, Mr. Rosenman

I was actually listening to the TVH score when I saw this.

RIP. v__v

Between this and the passing of Gary Gygax this morning it’s a sad day to be a nerd :(

I really like the STIV score; a lot of it still sticks with me. I feel a bit ashamed now realizing that I never paused to check the credit on it.

“MUSIC, when soft voices die,
Vibrates in the memory. . .”

Percy Bysshe Shelley. 1792–1822