My Musical Heroes!

Composers who inspire my own work as a film composer.
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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)...
“ Thanks for saving orchestral film music, Johnny! I cringe every time any current in vogue composer is compared to him, because no one today comes close to matching his melodic inventiveness and mastery of orchestration. ” - randinmusic
 
2.
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...
“ Jerry could do it all, from the creepy jazz of Chinatown to the primitive serialism of Planet of the Apes to grand space drama of Star Trek. They don't make'em like Jerry anymore. ” - randinmusic
 
3.
Elmer Bernstein
Music Department, Airplane!
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...
“ A master of the craft, no doubt. Seriously, whether it was the child's perspective score for Two Kill a Mockingbird or the amateur composer's perspective score for Airplane, his work was genius. Any aspiring composer needs to study every word he said. ” - randinmusic
 
4.
Bernard Herrmann
Music Department, Kill Bill: Vol. 1
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...
“ Pure genius. I was raised on the Hitchcock films he helped elevate, and had the pleasure of discovering his other work later on. ” - randinmusic
 
5.
Thomas Newman
Music Department, WALL·E
“ Few composers' scores have really become characters in the film the way his have, and as a "world" musician, myself, I love his integration of such a variety of instruments. Making gamelan, tablas, etc., work seamlessly for "American" Beauty was genius. The Academy robbed him on Wall-E. ” - randinmusic
 
6.
Peter Gabriel
Soundtrack, WALL·E
Peter Gabriel was educated at Charterhouse School, Surrey, England. He was the lead singer of leading progressive rock band Genesis from its inception until he left in 1975 for a successful solo career as a singer-songwriter, soundtrack composer and innovator in visual presentation of music...
“ His score for the Last Temptation of Christ doesn't get the credit it deserves for influencing future scores (and let's face it, knockoffs). Nobody outside of Armenia had even heard of the duduk until then, and now you can't escape it. Just the simple idea of percussion over drones was done so beautifully, and has been imitated to such less effect by so many. ” - randinmusic
 
7.
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...
“ Old school. Sunset Boulevard is still one of my favorite scores ever. ” - randinmusic
 
8.
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.
“ One of the few of the current A-listers I really admire for his skill and versatility. He brings something different to every project rather than just doing his thing all the time like other big composers of today. Some have criticized him for ripping off Herrmann, but if I'm ever asked to update Herrmann with a modern sensibility, I hope I can create a score half as gorgeous as his work on Signs. ” - randinmusic
 
9.
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...
“ So much great work over so many years, but yeah. He invented the sound of Bond. That gets you into the record books, no questions asked. ” - randinmusic
 
10.
Mark Isham
Composer, Crash
From his days as one of the pioneering icons of electronic music to his current status as a world-renowned legendary film composer, Mark Isham continues to be one of the most prolific and provocative artists on the scene. His gift for creating unforgettable melodies and his love of fresh, innovative sonic palettes have earned Isham many awards including a Grammy...
“ He's great, but mainly gets on my list for how much I liked him when he spoke at the Billboard/Hollywood Reporter film music conference last year. Totally practical, responsible and admirable. In the midst of newer, hipper composers complaining about decreasing budgets and just showing their immaturity, he came off as the adult in the room. ” - randinmusic
 
11.
“ The book on the Lord of the Rings scores converted me into a fan. But really, Howard Shore and his All Nurse Band should have been enough. ” - randinmusic
 
12.
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.
“ Two Words: Blade Runner. ” - randinmusic
 
13.
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...
“ Too many classics to mention. One of the inventors of film scoring. ” - randinmusic
 
14.
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...
“ Ditto my Steiner comment. ” - randinmusic
 
15.
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...
“ Ditto Steiner & Rózsa. ” - randinmusic
 
16.
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...
“ Come on. ” - randinmusic
 
17.
Igor Stravinsky
Soundtrack, The Lobster
Igor Stravinsky's father was a singer at the opera, and thus Stravinsky became a student of Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov after a short stint as a law student. Very much influenced by Russian composers, only his sponsor Sergei Diaghilev in Paris was able to convince him to try new styles of ballet, e.g. "Le sacre du printemps"...
“ OK, he only briefly dabbled with the idea of doing film music and I'm not listing ALL of my musical influences on here, but Igor's my hero and happens to be on IMDb, so he gets a mention. The most genius orchestrator ever. And he wrote way more than just the Rite of Spring, folks. ” - randinmusic
 
18.
Randin Graves
Composer, Reco
Now an award-winning film composer of orchestral, electronic and world music and a renowned expert on the Australian didjeridu, Randin started his artistic career as a self-taught electronic musician and guitarist in Del Mar, California. His formal study began at the California State Summer School for the Arts in 1991...
“ OK, I'm not my own hero. I'm just letting you know who's making the list. ” - randinmusic