The Crown soundtrack: who wrote the music for all six seasons of the Netflix series?

20 November 2023, 11:29

'The Crown' season 6 stars Imelda Staunton as Queen Elizabeth II
'The Crown' season 6 stars Imelda Staunton as Queen Elizabeth II. Picture: Alamy

By Maddy Shaw Roberts

Hans Zimmer’s cinematic Main Title heralds each new episode of Netflix’s The Crown. But which other composers have worked across the hit series?

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Season six of Peter Morgan’s hugely successful TV series The Crown is premiering in two separate parts, the first slate of episodes landing on Netflix in November and the second in December.

With Imelda Staunton reprising her role as Queen Elizabeth II, this final season (watch trailer below) will take us just beyond the turn of the 21st century, entering the final two decades of the British monarch’s 70-year reign.

Every two seasons, the cast of The Crown has changed as the royal family ages. Season one began with Claire Foy and Her Majesty’s ascension in 1952, before Olivia Colman took the orb and sceptre for seasons three and four.

And every change in cast has been wonderfully reflected in the changing of the musical guard. Here’s all you need to know about the music across all six seasons.

Read more: The Crown season 5 soundtrack – what music is used in the series?

The Crown final season trailer

Who wrote the main theme?

Hans Zimmer’s music runs a thread through all six seasons of The Crown.

In his almost hypnotic Main Title theme, the German film maestro gives a nod to Purcell and the ceremonial music of the English Baroque.

But it’s also pure Zimmer: after 15 seconds or so of gentle organ chords (an instrument Zimmer often turns to, notably in Interstellar), he adds his signature tremolo strings, and the music builds with an almost overbearing intensity, mirroring in music the weight of bearing the crown.

Read more: Inside Hans Zimmer’s greatest film scores, family, and awards so far

Listen to Hans Zimmer's rework of Netflix's 'ta-dum' theme

Who wrote the music for seasons 1 and 2 of The Crown?

British composer and conductor Rupert Gregson-Williams, whose most famous musical musings include the soundtracks for Wonder Woman (2017) and Hacksaw Ridge (2016), penned the music for season one of The Crown.

For series two, Gregson-Williams – brother of Harry G-W, who did the music for The Chronicles of Narnia and Shrek (2001) – was joined by Scottish composer Lorne Balfe.

Both composers are veterans of Hans Zimmer’s ‘Remote Control’ film score productions company in California.

Who wrote the music for seasons 3 and 4 of The Crown?

From Claire Foy and Matt Smith, to Olivia Colman and Dominic West – a change of cast in season three called for a new composer.

Martin Phipps, the godson of Benjamin Britten and best known for his work on War and Peace (2016) and Victoria (2017), took on the music. His soundtrack features the musicians of the Chamber Orchestra of London.

Season three also saw a smattering of musical surprises, with songs by The Kinks, David Bowie and Deep Purple featured alongside a Chopin prelude and Beethoven sonata.

Read more: Princess Diana played piano and danced to Uptown Girl, as in The Crown Season 3

Chelsea Guo performs Chopin’s 'Raindrop' prelude

Who wrote the music for seasons 5 and 6 of The Crown?

Clearly, it was decided that Martin Phipps did too fine a job on seasons three and four to let him go for seasons five and six – as Phipps once again took on the challenge of scoring two new seasons of The Crown, this time with a new cast of Imelda Staunton and Jonathan Pryce.

Alongside Phipps’ score, season five also featured ‘Rule Britannia’, some Purcell and Tallis, and two great hymns: William Henry Monk’s ‘Abide with Me’ and Parry’s ‘Dear Lord and Father of Mankind’.

While we can’t yet hear the full season six soundtrack, an atmospheric, French horn-led teaser track by Phipps called ‘Holding Hands’ was released on 16 November when the first four episodes landed on Netflix.