Top composers

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1.
John Williams
As one of the best known, awarded, and financially successful composers in US history, John Williams is as easy to recall as John Philip Sousa, Aaron Copland or Leonard Bernstein, illustrating why he is "America's composer" time and again. With a massive list of awards that includes over 41 Oscar nominations (five wins)...
 
2.
Ennio Morricone
A classmate of director Sergio Leone with whom he would form one of the great director/composer partnerships (right up there with Eisenstein & Prokofiev, Hitchcock & Herrmann, Fellini & Rota), Ennio Morricone studied at Rome's Santa Cecilia Conservatory, where he specialized in trumpet. His first film scores were relatively undistinguished...
 
3.
John Barry
Music Department, Juke Box Jury
John Barry was born in York, England in 1933, and was the youngest of three children. His father, Jack, owned several local cinemas and by the age of fourteen, Barry was capable of running the projection box on his own - in particular, The Rialto in York. As he was brought up in a cinematic environment...
 
4.
Bernard Herrmann
Music Department, Citizen Kane
The man behind the low woodwinds that open Citizen Kane, the shrieking violins of Psycho, and the plaintive saxophone of Taxi Driver was one of the most original and distinctive composers ever to work in film. He started early, winning a composition prize at the age of 13 and founding his own orchestra at the age of 20...
 
5.
Jerry Goldsmith
Music Department, Total Recall
Born on February 10, 1929, Jerry Goldsmith studied piano with Jakob Gimpel and composition, theory, and counterpoint with Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco. He also attended classes in film composition given by Miklós Rózsa at the Univeristy of Southern California. In 1950, he was employed as a clerk typist in the music department at CBS...
 
6.
Erich Wolfgang Korngold
Music Department, The Big Lebowski
Erich Wolfgang Korngold was the son of a well-known music critic. He was a child prodigy who composed his first orchestral piece at 14 and drew the attention of Richard Strauss, Gustav Mahler and many other prominent composers and conductors. He had begun a promising career as a serious composer of...
 
7.
Miklós Rózsa
Music Department, Ben-Hur
'Miklos Rozsa' studied the violin from the age of five. In 1926, he began studying at the Leipzig Conservatory. In 1929, his violin concerto was performed there. While living in Paris from 1931, Rozsa had his 'Variations on a Hungarian Peasant Song' and his 'Symphony and Serenade for Small Orchestra' performed...
 
8.
Max Steiner
Composer, Casablanca
Austrian composer who achieved legendary status as the creator of hundreds of classic American film scores. As a child he was astonishingly musically gifted, composing complex works as a teenager and completing the course of study at Vienna's Hochschule fuer Musik und Darstellende Kunst in only one year...
 
9.
Maurice Jarre
Unlike many musicians who started to learn music while still in their childhood, Maurice Jarre was already late in his teens when he discovered music and decided to make a career in that field. Against his father's will, he enrolled at Conservatoire de Paris where he studied percussions, composition and harmonies...
 
10.
Danny Elfman
Music Department, Corpse Bride
As Danny Elfman was growing up in the Los Angeles area, he was largely unaware of his talent for composing. It wasn't until the early 1970s that Danny and his older brother Richard Elfman started a musical troupe while in Paris; the group "Mystic Knights of Oingo-Boingo" was created for Richard's directorial debut...
 
11.
James Horner
Music Department, Titanic
James Horner began studying piano at the age of five, and trained at the Royal College of Music in London, England, before moving to California in the 1970s. After receiving a bachelor's degree in music at USC, he would go on to earn his master's degree at UCLA and teach music theory there. He later completed his Ph.D...
 
13.
Alex North
Music Department, Goodfellas
Alex North studied music at the Curtis Institute of Philadelphia, then won a scholarship to Juilliard in New York (1929) and the Moscow Conservatoire (1933), making him the first-ever American to become a member of the Union of Soviet Composers. In Europe, he worked as music director for the Latvian State Theatre...
 
14.
Franz Waxman
Music Department, Peyton Place
Franz Waxman (Wachsmann) pursued his dream of a career in music despite his family's misgivings. He worked for several years as a bank teller and paid for piano, harmony and composition lessons with his salary. He later moved to Berlin, where he continued his study and progress as a musician. He was able to support himself by playing and arranging for a popular German jazz band...
 
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16.
Thomas Newman
Music Department, WALL·E
 
17.
Nino Rota
Composer, The Godfather
Born in Milan in 1911 into a family of musicians, Nino Rota was first a student of Orefice and Pizzetti. Then, still a child, he moved to Rome where he completed his studies at the Conservatory of Santa Cecilia in 1929 with Alfredo Casella. In the meantime, he had become an 'enfant prodige', famous both as a composer and as an orchestra conductor...
 
18.
Elmer Bernstein
Music Department, Cape Fear
Elmer Bernstein was educated at the Walden School and New York University. He served in the US Army Air Corps in World War II. A prolific and respected film music composer, he was a protégé of Aaron Copland, who studied music with Roger Sessions and Stefan Wolpe. Bernstein worked in various artistic endeavors...
 
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20.
Alfred Newman
Music Department, The King and I
 
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22.
Alan Silvestri
Composer, Forrest Gump
In over thirty years as a film composer, Alan Silvestri has blazed an innovative trail with his exciting and melodic scores, winning the applause of Hollywood and movie audiences the world over. Born in Manhattan in 1950, Alan was first drawn to music at an early age. Beginning as a drummer, his love for instruments quickly grew to include the bassoon...
 
23.
Henry Mancini
Born in Cleveland, Ohio, but brought up in Pennsylvania, where he played the flute in a local band, as a youth, before sending some arrangements to Benny Goodman. Goodman offered him a job and, after serving in WWII, he joined the rearranged Glenn Miller band. In 1952, he was given a two-week assignment...
 
24.
Philip Glass
Music Department, The Truman Show
Born in Baltimore, Maryland, Glass worked in his father's radio store and discovered music listening to the offbeat Western classical records customers didn't seem to want. He studied the violin and flute, and obtained early admission to the University of Chicago. After graduating in mathematics and philosophy...
 
26.
David Arnold
Music Department, Stargate SG-1
 
27.
Victor Young
Music Department, Casino
Violinist and conductor Victor Young was a prolific composer and arranger, who worked on more than 300 film scores over a period of twenty years. He came from an impoverished, but musical background and was trained on the violin at the Warsaw Imperial Conservatory, later studying piano in Paris under the French master Isidor Philipp...
 
28.
Elliot Goldenthal
Composer, Heat
Elliot Goldenthal is an Academy Award-winning composer best known for his original music scores for such films as Frida and Across the Universe, among his other works. He was born on May 2, 1954, in Brooklyn, New York. His father was a house-painter, and his mother was a seamstress. Young Goldenthal was fond of music and theatre...
 
29.
Michael Kamen
Music Department, Lethal Weapon
 
30.
Basil Poledouris
Basil Poledouris was born on August 21, 1945 in Kansas City. He started taking piano lessons when he was 7 years old. Eventually, he went on to become a student at USC, where he studied the arts of directing, cinematography, editing, sound and, of course, music. It was also at USC he met John Milius and Randal Kleiser...
 
31.
Patrick Doyle
Actor, Brave
Patrick Doyle is a classically trained composer. His first film score, the acclaimed adaptation of "Henry V" with Kenneth Branagh for Renaissance films was scored in 1989. He has subsequently worked with Kenneth Branagh, a long time collaborator on numerous pictures including "Dead Again", "Much Ado About Nothing", "Frankenstein" and "Hamlet"...
 
32.
André Previn
Music Department, Fight Club
 
33.
Zbigniew Preisner
Born in Poland in 1955, Zbigniew Preisner studied philosophy and history in the university of Cracow. In his twenties he started to study music in a autodidactical way: buying records and learning to write by taking the music in parts. He started to write his own compositions. His style has always been very romantic...
 
34.
James Newton Howard
James Newton Howard attended the University of Southern California's music school, but dropped out to tour with Elton John, and eventually compose music for film and television. He started with Head Office in 1985. He has been nominated for eight Academy Awards. He currently is a songwriter, record producer, conductor, keyboardist, and film composer.
 
36.
Alan Menken
Music Department, Beauty and the Beast
Alan Menken born on July 22, 1949 in New Rochelle, New York, USA as Alan Irwin Menken. Composer, Actor and Artist, he is famous to working with the legendary Disney Studios since 1987. begun his career as a Composer in 1971 be composing for New York City Ballet and Jingles. He also works many works in the Cinema including as a Actor...
 
37.
Randy Newman
Music Department, Toy Story 3
 
38.
David Raksin
Music Department, Ben Casey
David Raksin's father Isidore, who both conducted and owned a music store, taught his son to play piano as well as woodwind instruments at an early age. He eventually studied music with Arnold Schönberg, but became by-and-large a self-taught multi-instrumentalist (organ and percussion), as well as composer and arranger for radio and for his own jazz/dance combo which he led at the age of 12 ...
 
39.
Adolph Deutsch
Academy Award-winning composer, songwriter, conductor and arranger, educated at London Poly. and the Royal Academy of Music. He came to the USA in 1910 and became a US citizen in 1920, eventually leading his own orchestra; later he composed and arranged for and conducted other dance bands. He was the music director and arranger for three Broadway musicals...
 
41.
Michel Legrand
Michel Legrand is a three times Academy Award-winning French composer, conductor and pianist who composed over 200 film and television scores as well as recorded over a hundred albums of jazz, popular and classical music. He was born on February 24, 1932, in Becon-les-Bruyeres, in the Paris suburbs...
 
42.
Ernest Gold
Award-winning composer/songwriter ("Exodus" [Grammy/Academy Awards, 1960] ). He joined ASCAP in 1957, and his other popular-song compositions include the title songs for "On the Beach" and "It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World".
 
43.
Hans Zimmer
German-born composer Hans Zimmer is recognized as one of Hollywood's most innovative musical talents. He featured in the music video for The Buggles' single "Video Killed the Radio Star", which became a worldwide hit and helped usher in a new era of global entertainment as the first music video to be aired on MTV (August 1, 1981)...
 
44.
Vangelis
Soundtrack, Collateral
Vangelis is a composer and performer who works almost exclusively with electronic instruments. He is probably most well known for his Chariots of Fire and Blade Runner soundtracks or for the tracks used in the Cosmos television series. He has been involved in many musical collaborations, most famously with Jon Anderson.
 
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47.
Bill Conti
Music Department, Falcon Crest
 
48.
Herbert Stothart
Music Department, The Wizard of Oz
Of Scottish and German ancestry, Herbert Stothart was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in 1885. At first, he was slated for a career as a teacher of history. However, he became enamored with music while singing in a school choir, and again, later, while attending the University of Wisconsin. There, he...
 
49.
Gabriel Yared
Gabriel Yared stopped his law studies at the age of 20 to work as a professional music composer. He studied with Henri Dutilleux and Maurice Ohana. He worked as a composer, orchestrator or producer for such singers as Françoise Hardy, Charles Aznavour, Gilbert Bécaud and Mireille Mathieu. He made his film debut in 1980 with the score for Jean-Luc Godard's Every Man for Himself...
 
50.
Clint Eastwood
Perhaps the icon of macho movie stars, and a living legend, Clint Eastwood has become a standard in international cinema. Born May 31, 1930 in San Francisco, the elder of two children in a middle-class family, Eastwood stayed in high school until the comparatively late age of nineteen and worked menial jobs over a period of several years before enrolling at Los Angeles City College...
 
51.
Lalo Schifrin
Music Department, Mission: Impossible
Immensely talented, Argentinian born pianist, conductor and composer who has written over 100 scores for both television & the cinema including the memorable themes to Mission: Impossible, Mannix, Starsky and Hutch, Cool Hand Luke, and Bullitt. Schifrin has regularly worked alongside Clint Eastwood...
 
52.
Dave Grusin
Music Department, Good Times
 
53.
Marvin Hamlisch
Music Department, The Spy Who Loved Me
Musical talent ran in Marvin Hamlisch's family - his father was an accordionist, and at seven Hamlisch was the youngest student ever accepted by Manhattan's Julliard School of Music. Hamlich furthered his education by taking night classes at Queens College and working during the day as a rehearsal pianist for Broadway shows...
 
54.
Eric Serra
Music Department, The Fifth Element
Eric Serra was born on September 9th, 1959 near Paris in France. His mother died when he was only 7 years old. His father, Claude Serra was a well-know songwriter in France in late 50s and 60s. Serra began to learn play the guitar at 11 years old and became a professional musician for Mory Kante;, Didier Lockwood and Michel Murty at 15 years old...
 
55.
Harry Gregson-Williams
Composer, Shrek
Harry Gregson-Williams is a composer. He was the composer on all four installments of the blockbuster Shrek franchise; garnered a BAFTA nomination for the score for the first Shrek; and received Golden Globe and Grammy Award nominations for his score to Andrew Adamson's The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion...