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There are a lot of really outstanding but underrated composers in Hollywood and Bill Conti is certainly one of them. His talent for writing big tuneful orchestral music combined with his ability to merge it with elements of contemporary rock and pop music lead to the creation of his very unique musical voice. It is impossible to imagine films like Rocky (1976), The Right Stuff (1983) and Karate Kid (1984) without that very special Conti-sound.

 

Bill Conti was born in 1942 in Rhode Island. He learned playing the piano very early from his father and studied composition at the Louisiana State University where he also performed with the school's symphony orchestra and spent the evenings playing in jazz clubs. After he earned his Master's Degree he left the USA behind and moved to Italy in 1967. He quickly got his first scoring assignments for films there, which lead to swinging jazzy scores like Juliette de Sade (1969). In 1970, he scored the Academy Award winning film Il Giardino Dei Finzi-Contini which carried his work to the attention of international audiences.

 

That success brought him back to the states where he scored several feature films, including the academy award winning drama Harry And Tonto (1974). His career was only about to sky-rocket in 1976 when he scored Sylvester Stallone's boxing drama Rocky. The success of his music for the film, including the world famous song "Gonna Fly Now" which sold platinum, earned Conti his first academy award nomination and re-defined the way of scoring sport movies. A string of scoring assignments for rather mediocre films followed and he became the composer of choice for Stallone-films like F.I.S.T. (1978) or Victory (1981) and continued his success on the Rocky-sequels. In 1980, he was honoured to replace an unavailable John Barry on the James Bond film For Your Eyes Only which earned him a second Academy Award nomination for the film's title song.

 

It took two more years until Bill Conti finally won the statue for The Right Stuff (1983) which featured a sweeping patriotic score.

 

Today, Bill Conti is hardly getting any new scoring assignments anymore except for TV features while his work in Hollywood is limited to cameo appearances as Conductor at the Academy Award ceremonies and being insulted by Julia 'primadonna' Roberts ("Stickman!"). Maybe the lack of sufficient score releases is one reason why most of his excellent work from the 70's and 80's is largely forgotten these days. However, 2005 can be considered as the year of Conti's rediscovery: Five of his scores found their way on CD which helped to correct a major film music injustice that made Bill Conti one of the most underappreciated of recent Hollywood composers.

 

    Links to related sites

        Bill Conti's Fan Pages (czechian/english)

BUSHWHACKED (1995)

ROOKIE OF THE YEAR (1993)

A NIGHT IN THE LIFE OF JIMMY REARDON (1988)

BROADCAST NEWS (1987)

MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE (1987)

THE RIGHT STUFF (1983)

ESCAPE TO VICTORY (1981)