Brian May (composer)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
For the British musician, see Brian May.
Brian May
Born (1934-07-28)28 July 1934
Adelaide, Australia
Died 25 April 1997(1997-04-25) (aged 62)
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Genres Film score
Occupation(s) Composer, conductor
Instruments Piano, violin

Brian May (28 July 1934 – 25 April 1997) was an Australian film composer. His best known scores are those for Mad Max and Mad Max 2.[1]


May was born in Adelaide on 28 July 1934. He trained at the Adelaide Elder Conservatorium as a pianist, violinist and conductor. He joined the ABC Adelaide in 1957 and was asked to form and conduct the ABC Adelaide Big Band, a full-blown ensemble that was rated as the best of the ABC state-based bands. He moved to Melbourne when he was 35 to arrange and conduct the ABC's Melbourne Show band. The Show Band made its radio debut on the First Network on 13 March 1969. Background music for Australian television had previously been taken from records. May changed this by writing and arranging the themes for television programmes, including Bellbird, Return to Eden, The Last Frontier, A Dangerous Life and Darling of the Gods.

A breakthrough for May was the drama series Rush, set on the 19th-century Victorian goldfields. The theme was composed by Australian George Dreyfus, but May's arrangement of the theme was recorded by the Show Band and quickly reached the top of the Australian charts, selling more than 100,000 copies. This type of success was usually reserved for pop groups such as Sherbert and Skyhooks. May also composed the Countdown theme and the Melbourne Show Band launched the highly successful Countdown television series. He left the ABC in 1984 and his interests turned to film music. He composed more than 30 feature film scores, including Gallipoli, Mad Max, Mad Max 2, Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare, Dr. Giggles and one episode of "Tales from the Crypt". May preferred to orchestrate his scores himself.

He died in Melbourne on 25 April 1997 at the age of 62.



Mad Max won the Australian Film Institute Award for Best Original Score. May won many other awards, including the Golden Award from the Australian Performing Rights Association. May spent many years in America working on film scores. He was regarded as the finest of Australia's screen composers.


His will established the Brian May Trust, a charitable testamentary trust, to provide a scholarship to promising Australian film composers to study film-scoring at the University of Southern California (USC). The Trustees have determined that the scholarship will be provided for tuition in film-scoring at the USC's Thornton School of Music in the course known as the 'Scoring for Motion Pictures and Television Graduate Certificate'. The Brian May Trust Scholarship was first awarded for the 2003/2004 Academic Year and will continue to be awarded biennially.


  1. ^ Ivan Hutchinson, "Brian May", Cinema Papers, Feb-March 1985 p47-49, 88

External links[edit]