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Hans Zimmer on Retirement: ‘Are You Kidding Me?’

Hans Zimmer, the two time Oscar winner and four time Grammy winner, is one of the most prolific film score composers of all time. With a career spanning over 40 years, from “The Lion King” to “The Dark Knight” trilogy to the “Dune” movies, he shows no signs of slowing down. As for retirement, don’t expect it any time soon.

“Are you kidding me? I’ve played all my life. Why would I stop playing? Why would I stop living a playful life? Why would I stop trying to, you know, invent things? Why would I? I mean, there are good reasons because, as soon as I sit down and there is the blank page and I’m supposed to write something, I’m like ‘Oh my god, I have no idea how to do this,” Zimmer told IndieWire. “After two weeks I want to phone the director and give him a number of a composer who can, but somehow this dichotomy of wanting to do something new, it’s the truth.”

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Zimmer continued, “Somewhere in the back of my mind, it lingers, a piece of music I have not written that I think is really good, but I don’t know how to get to it. So I just have to go and scramble until I get this piece, and it just hasn’t happened yet. Everything is an experiment. Everything is just trying to get a little bit closer to, I don’t know, some emotional truth. It’s like, oh my God, I have no idea how to do this.”

At a live discussion at The Whitby Hotel in New York City on March 14, Zimmer talked about whether or not he references other scores when creating his own. “I listen to very little music, because when I’m writing, I can’t listen to somebody else,” Zimmer said. “It’s not because I’m afraid to steal from it or any of that. I can listen to the worst piece of music and I can call it a masterpiece, because it’s finished. If I listen to other music I have to compare myself and the music that I love, the music that I listen to.”

“My taste is weird,” Zimmer continued. “It’s Beethoven, Manu Chao, it’s The Clash — it’s a lot of The Clash! It’s a lot of Tangerine Dreams. For somebody who had such a poor classical education, my knowledge of classical music stuff is good, but my knowledge of the damn Sex Pistols is probably better.”

Zimmer’s most recent project is “Dune: Part Two.” In our review, David Ehrlich writes that his score is “a bittersweet wail that cuts deeper than any of the music he wrote for ‘Part One’ and sustains the emotion of this movie long after the script has run out of steam.”

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