Harold Faltermeyer (b. 1952) is a legendary German composer, producer, songwriter and keyboardist. In this article, you will find information and personal comments on every film, TV project or video game that he ever worked on in one way or another.
Please note that he has also done tons of stuff that is not related to the visual medium, like producing albums and songs for other artists (for instance the 1990 Pet Shop Boys album Behaviour), releasing the studio albums World Hits and Harold F., and even writing the musical Wake Up in 2002.
Midnight Express (1978)
Harold Faltermeyer was only 25 when he got to work with Giorgio Moroder on the music for Midnight Express. The young German is credited as arranger and programmer on this score, which ended up winning an Oscar for Best Music. Midnight Express was a real breakthrough for electronic music in film, and Moroder and Faltermeyer, plus composers like Sylvester Levay, Gary Chang, Keith Forsey, Anthony Marinelli and Brian Banks were important in this revolution the following decade or two, all of them directly connected to Moroder and his music studios in Hollywood.
American Gigolo (1980)
Another collaboration with Moroder, this was a Paul Schrader film starring Richard Gere. Faltermeyer is credited as arranger and keyboard player here. The Polydor soundtrack album features several instrumentals, plus the big hit «Call Me» performed by Blondie and produced by Moroder. The music on this album has a clear disco feel, as that kind of music was really hot during this time.
Adrian Lyne’s feature film debut was this Jodie Foster drama flick. Again, Faltermeyer worked as arranger for Moroder. On the album, we get several tracks of score, plus Moroder-penned songs by the likes of Donna Summer, Cher and Keith Forsey. This was the last Moroder-scored film that Faltermeyer worked on, as Sylvester Levay would take over his role as arranger.
Wetten, daß…? (1981)
Faltermeyer apparently arranged the title theme to this German game show. The theme was composed by Barry Trop and was used between 1981 and 1992.
Didi – Der Doppelgänger (1984)
Faltermeyer’s real start as a film composer was this German comedy which he scored together with Austrian composer Arthur Lauber. This is a fun and varied score that got an LP release on the Ariola label in Germany. Of particular interest is the «Carmen Disco Suite» with Faltermeyer arranging the classic Georges Bizet opera theme from 1875 for the 1980s.
Thief of Hearts (1984)
Producer Jerry Bruckheimer originally wanted Giorgio Moroder to score this film, but the Italian composer was extremely busy in 1984 so he had to pass. Faltermeyer instead received the call from the producer while holiday climbing in the German mountains. Could he take the gig? Of course he could. He composed a brilliant electronic score and also worked on several of the songs for the movie, along with Moroder. The score/songs soundtrack combo got a release on the classic Casablanca record label. In 2018, Varese Sarabande reissued the album on CD, with three additional mixes. The film was not a success, though.
Beverly Hills Cop (1984)
Producers Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer had continued faith in young Faltermeyer, giving him the enviable task of scoring a new Eddie Murphy action/comedy. The film would go on to become one of the biggest successes of the 80s, much helped by the bouncy score and catchy songs written and produced by Faltermeyer. The instrumental «Axel F» theme became a big hit, climbing to number 2 in the UK and number 3 in the US. This was unheard of when it came to film score music. The soundtrack album also sold extremely well. It included only one instrumental track («Axel F.»), the rest of it being songs. The score tracks «Shootout» and «The Discovery» appeared as B sides on various single releases from the film. In 2016, record label La La Land Records finally released the full score on CD.
Tom Scott was the original composer on this Chevy Chase crime comedy, but for reasons unknown his score got rejected and the filmmakers went for the new and hip sound of Harold Faltermeyer instead. This is another fun and enjoyable score by the German, and the soundtrack album included 4 of his selections, plus songs, some of them written or produced by Faltermeyer. Fans had to wait until 2018 before a CD version of the soundtrack saw the light of day, through record label Varese Sarabande. A complete score has still not been released, though.
Top Gun (1986)
Producers Simpson and Bruckheimer were on a roll in the 80s, and once more they hired Faltermeyer for one of their movies. Top Gun starring Tom Cruise became massive, and the «Top Gun Anthem» another big hit for the composer, earning him and guitarist Steve Stevens a Grammy for best instrumental performance. Faltermeyer had originally written the track for the movie Fletch, but none other than Billy Idol, with whom he worked at the time, persuaded him to use it in Top Gun instead. The soundtrack album featured only this one instrumental, plus several songs written or produced by Faltermeyer and/or Giorgio Moroder, but the score track «Dog Fight #3» appeared on the B side of «Mighty Wings» by Cheap Trick. In 1999, an expanded version of the soundtrack album appeared, featuring one more instrumental by Faltermeyer called «Memories». A full score album has still not been commercially released.
Feuer und Eis (1986)
This was a German ski movie directed by Willy Bogner, responsible for the ski scenes in several James Bond movies. The exciting and varied score was composed by the group Panarama, which consisted of Hermann Weindorf and Alan Parsons Project’s guitar player Ian Bairnson. Harold Faltermeyer’s involvement in the film is limited to writing and producing the highly catchy song «Fire And Ice», performed by Marietta. CBS Records released the soundtrack album.
Formel Eins (1986)
Formel Eins was a popular German music show which ran from 1983 to 1990, plus in 2013. In 1986, Harold Faltermeyer composed a new theme tune for the show. The highly catchy and energetic theme got a 7″ and 12″ vinyl release on the MCA record label, and even a music video where Harold himself appeared.
Fatal Beauty (1987)
Whoopi Goldberg starred in this Tom Holland-directed action/comedy. Faltermeyer wrote a rather short score in his typical 80s style for the film, probably not more than 15-20 minutes, and none of this music has ever been released. The soundtrack album featured songs only, but the composer was only involved in one of them, «Sin City», performed by War. Owners of Faltermeyer’s His Greatest Hits 2CD set from 2002 can also see a rare picture of Harold, his wife, Whoopi Goldberg and Tom Holland from the film set in the CD booklet.
The Running Man (1987)
Paul Michael Glaser was the director of this Arnold Schwarzenegger action/sci-fi movie loosely based on the Stephen King book. Harold Faltermeyer composed the score alone in his studio in Munich, Germany. This is a very strident and powerful score which was the composer’s first full score release when Varese Sarabande put it out on CD, LP and MC. In 2020, the same label released a “Deluxe Edition” of the score, featuring even more material. Nevertheless, one notable omission from these albums was the fine song «Restless Heart» sung by John Parr and written/produced by Faltermeyer which was only released as a single.
Beverly Hills Cop II (1987)
Top Gun director Tony Scott took over directing duties from Martin Brest in the second installment of Beverly Hills Cop. There was no doubt that Harold Faltermeyer would return for the music, and he wrote an exciting and up-to-date score as well as the song «Shakedown» which became a hit for Bob Seger. Sadly, the soundtrack album did not include any of his score selections, but in 1988 Faltermeyer released the album Harold F. which included a vocal version of one of the themes from the film, called «Bad Guys» and sung by Keith Forsey. In 2016, La La Land Records finally released a score album and almost 30 years of waiting was over.
Tango & Cash (1989)
Sylvester Stallone and Kurt Russell starred in this action/comedy directed by Andrei Konchalovsky and Albert Magnoli. Editor Stuart Baird got Faltermeyer on board, and his score is among the very best he ever did. A really hard-hitting but also melodic electronic score worked wonders for the film, but this time a soundtrack album failed to materialize. It wasn’t until 2006 that La La Land Records redeemed the error with a score CD limited to 3000 units. Faltermeyer didn’t write or produce any songs for the film, so the album is all-instrumental.
Fletch Lives (1989)
The second sequel Faltermeyer worked on during the 80s, Fletch Lives saw Chevy Chase return as Irvin Fletcher four years after the first film. The composer didn’t really revisit too much of the material he did for Fletch, as Fletch Lives is a rather short score with mostly new elements and without any HF-penned songs of importance. While it does contain several highlights, it wasn’t really a big surprise that no soundtrack album was released at the time of the film’s premiere. But miracles sometimes do happen, and in 2019, La La Land Records released a score album featuring all the cues that were written for the film.
Blaues Blut (1989)
Faltermeyer composed the theme for this short-lived German TV series. The pretty theme appears on the soundtrack album, but for some reason he performs it under the alias “Network”. He is not involved in any of the other tracks on the album, which includes songs by the likes of Sandra and Freiheit, plus score selections by Hermann Weindorf.
Fire, Ice & Dynamite (1990)
This was Willy Bogner’s sequel to Feuer und Eis. Roger Moore starred as tycoon Sir George, and Harold Faltermeyer composed the score and worked on a bunch of songs. The soundtrack album did not include any of his score material; the closest we got was an instrumental version of the song «Breakout» on the B side of the Bonnie Tyler single of the same name. Faltermeyer wrote quite a bit of music for the film, and fans are still waiting for a release of his score more than 30 years later.
Christian Slater starred in this quite forgettable action/comedy directed by Bruce A. Evans. This would also be Harold Faltermeyer’s final Hollywood score for many years (18, to be precise) as he had now returned to Germany to raise his children there. On this score, he felt that he more or less copied himself for filmmakers who wanted another «Axel F.» Not creatively fulfilling for the composer who turned 40 in 1992. That said, the music for Kuffs is of course entertaining and listenable, and record label Milan Records put out the music on CD. It included Faltermeyer’s beautiful arrangement of Gounod’s «Ave Maria» and some hilarious liner notes with the paragraphs in the wrong order.
This was a German animated television series for children. I haven’t seen it or heard the music. Swiss musician and composer Marcel Barsotti is credited as orchestrator.
Detective Extralarge (1993)
Faltermeyer is credited as title music composer of one episode of this hilarious Italian TV series starring Bud Spencer and Philip Michael Thomas. There were clearly no limits for the kind of jobs Harold took on, particularly during the 90s! There was a soundtrack CD released, but his theme did not appear on the album.
Zeit der Sehnsucht (1994)
Zeit der Sehnsucht was a German version of the American soap Days of Our Lives. In 1994, WEA Records released a soundtrack CD featuring six instrumentals by Harold Faltermeyer, a few songs written/produced by him, a couple of oldies and a modern electronica track by the project Dream Age (which has never been heard from again), consisting of Faltermeyer and Uli Fischer. An interesting album that isn’t easy to find on the secondhand market. Faltermeyer’s music is of course mostly in the romantic and “easy listening” vein.
White Magic (1994)
Another ski movie by the director of Feuer und Eis and Fire, Ice & Dynamite, Willy Bogner, and starring, among others, German alpine master Markus Wasmaier. For this film, Harold Faltermeyer “modernized” his music a bit, going away from the typical 80s sound and moving more towards “symphonic synths”, a style he perhaps wasn’t too experienced with. As usual, he also worked on songs, this time for artists like Johnny Logan and Sally Oldfield. The soundtrack on BMG Ariola includes 4 score tracks, totalling about 13 minutes of music, and no less than 12 songs, including Roger Chapman’s «Eye To Eye» which also appeared on the Fire, Ice & Dynamite album.
Asterix in America (1994)
Gerhard Hahn directed this 90s version of the adventures of Asterix and Obelix. Faltermeyer was called upon as composer, and as usual for HF in the 90s, the album is a combination of score (4 tracks) and songs. There is an indigenous element in his music this time around, while the songs are a wildly diverse mix of typical mid 90s commercial dance by the likes of Dr. Alban, La Bouche and Right Said Fred. Only for the brave.
Information is scarce about this German TV series. Nevertheless, Hansa Records released a soundtrack CD featuring two short tracks from the score by Harold Faltermeyer. His music sounds quite acoustic and intimate for a change, performed on a real B3 organ. The CD also includes 14(!) more or less forgettable songs by artists like Scorpions and Bernie Marsden, several of them featuring Faltermeyer. The music is so obscure that none of the two score cues are available on Youtube, so here is a song instead:
Jack Orlando (1997)
This is a video game that Faltermeyer scored. His music is reminiscent of the stuff he did for White Magic and Frankie, but it also has a jazz and timely drum & bass element that was kind of new for him. Once more Ariola released a soundtrack CD in Germany, featuring 14 tracks by the composer, mostly instrumentals.
Der König von St. Pauli (1998)
6-part TV drama by Dieter Wedel, scored by Harold Faltermeyer, Mario Schneider and Gernot Rothenbach, set in the red light district of St. Pauli in Hamburg, Germany. The EastWest record label put out a soundtrack CD that included three score-tracks in the typical organic 90s style by Faltermeyer/Rothenbach, plus 13 songs (Bonnie Tyler, Joe Cocker, Coolio et.al.), several of them written/produced by Faltermeyer. Again, the score tracks make a non-appearance on Youtube, so here is «He Is The King» performed by Bonnie Tyler and written/produced by Faltermeyer instead:
Lilli – Die Waldameise (1998)
This was an educational game for kids about a wood ant named Lilli. Faltermeyer is credited on the front cover of the game, so his music is probably an important factor of it all. The composer had small children himself around this time in the late 90s, so maybe they inspired him to work on this game? Not quite Tango & Cash.
Typisch Ed! (1999)
German TV comedy directed by Franz Peter Wirth. Harold Faltermeyer and one of his co-composers from Der König von St. Pauli, Mario Schneider, are credited as composers. Much more info than that is not easy to find anywhere.
Ski to the Max (2001)
Willy Bogner does what he does best, i.e. filming spectacular scenes featuring snow and ski. Faltermeyer is once more credited as composer, and scenes from the 42-minute film starring pop star P!nk reveals a quite varied and exciting score.
Two Worlds (2007)
This is another video game with a score by Faltermeyer. 10 years had passed since the last full instrumental album by the composer (Jack Orlando), and Two Worlds is an album full of different moods from the game. Some of it is clearly inspired by how Hans Zimmer sounded around that time, but there is also a gothic rock song performed by Amber Moon and written by Faltermeyer and his old buddy Keith Forsey. Interestingly, Harold’s son Florian is credited as keyboard player on this score. The main theme includes the clarinet of Ralf Forster, who also played on the Kuffs score.
Cop Out (2010)
Cop Out can only be called the comeback of the century for the composer. Hollywood director Kevin Smith brought Faltermeyer out of semi-retirement for the score to this retro Bruce Willis action-comedy. Harold worked with a couple of young and hip programmers since he had been out of the game for so long, but much of this score sounds like vintage 80s Faltermeyer. Thankfully, Watertower Records released the music on CD, featuring the song «Soul Brothers» performed by Patti LaBelle of Beverly Hills Cop fame.
Faltermeyer scored this 1-season German TV series, translated to “greed” in English. Eberhard Schoener wrote songs for the show and Bavaria Sonor Records released the music on CD. The score music is a mixture of electronic and acoustic instruments, and shows Faltermeyer from a quite different and mature side. Fans who thought the composer was ready for a full-fledged comeback got disappointed, though, as more than 10 years would now pass with total silence from HF in the film and TV world. He would rather concentrate on making sausages and writing his autobiography.
Hopften, Malz und Blei (2021)
This is a new German western comedy directed by Mark Lohr. Faltermeyer wrote the song «Ode To Indigenes», which became the main theme of the film. He was not involved in the score of the movie. A soundtrack album has so far not been released. The title can be translated to “hops, malt and lead” in English.
Top Gun: Maverick (2022)
Finally, 36 years after Top Gun, it is time for the follow-up to one of the most successful films in the history of movies. After several covid-related delays, the film now has a May 27, 2022 release date in the US (in time for Faltermeyer’s 70th birthday in October), with Tom Cruise in the leading role. Top Gun director Tony Scott died in 2012, so directing duties are now handled by Joseph Kosinski (Oblivion, Tron: Legacy). Producer Jerry Bruckheimer (78 years old in 2021) is still on board, and for the music score, the filmmakers decided that a collaboration between Harold Faltermeyer and Hans Zimmer would be perfect. So finally, two German legends in the film music field got to work together, probably for the first and last time. Not too much is known about the music, but it seems like Zimmer has used his usual array of co-workers and that the score will have an orchestral element that the first one did not. It will surely be a great moment for many fans of film music.