The name Dimitri Tiomkin calls forth the image of one of Hollywood’s most distinguished and best-loved composers. Whether the genre was Westerns, drama, comedy, film noir, adventure, or war documentary, Tiomkin’s visceral, dramatic underscores helped bring more than 100 feature films to vivid life. The list of respected directors who continuously called on his services is impressive: Frank Capra, Howard Hawks, and Alfred Hitchcock among them.
As the composer behind such memorable films as High Noon, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, It’s a Wonderful Life, Giant, Dial M for Murder, Strangers on a Train, Shadow of a Doubt, Lost Horizon, and Rio Bravo he enjoyed an enviable position in the American film industry, having written for both film and television, and writing songs in addition to scores.
Several of Tiomkin’s songs have gone on to become popular standards. Undoubtedly the most famous of these is “Do Not Forsake Me” from High Noon, but Tiomkin also wrote “Thee I Love” from Friendly Persuasion, “The Green Leaves of Summer” from The Alamo, and the theme from the television series Rawhide.
READ: Making Music in Selznick’s Hollywood by Nathan Platte book review and our exclusive interview with author Nathan Platte
In the course of his career, Tiomkin received nearly two dozen Academy Award score and song nominations over five consecutive decades. Of these, he took home four Oscars. International honors are found along his career path as well. The French government bestowed on him the Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters) and both the Chevalier and Officier de l’Ordre National de la Légion d’Honneur (Knight and Officer of the National Order of the Legion of Honor). From the government of Spain, Tiomkin received La Cruz de Caballero de la Orden de Isabel la Católica.