Howard Shore’s film scoring résumé, containing everything from The Lord of the Rings cycle to the 2016 Academy Award winner for best picture, Spotlight, is so impressive that it might seem intimidating to music students. And yet, Shore, who studied composition at Berklee College of Music long before there was a Film Scoring Department, credits his time at Berklee with helping him get his start. “Berklee had the keys to everything I was interested in, so it was a very quiet kind of gathering up of information,” Shore said in a Berklee interview. “It was this real desire to create music, a real curiosity, which I still have.”
Shore, born in 1946 in Toronto, Canada, became serious about music in high school. After graduating from Berklee, he played in the Canadian jazz band Lighthouse for several years. For his childhood friend and Saturday Night Live creator Lorne Michaels, he composed the show's theme song and then began scoring music for films in Hollywood in the late 1970s. His long career includes two Oscars for The Lord of the Rings films, two Golden Globes, three Grammys, and numerous other awards and honors.
Shore's other film music includes the scores for such movies as Naked Lunch, Eastern Promises, M. Butterfly, and Silence of the Lambs, as well as work for directors David Cronenberg and Martin Scorsese. He has composed and conducted operas, symphonic works, song cycles, and even music for video games. His credits also include work on television shows such as Late Night with Conan O’Brien and radio broadcasts.
Despite his individual success and awards, Shore views creating music as a cooperative effort. “Something like The Lord of the Rings only exists because of good collaboration,” he told a Berklee interviewer. “That's how you achieve something of that level in any field.”