The Top 50 Composers

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1.
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)...
 
2.
Thomas Newman
Music Department, WALL·E
 
3.
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)...
 
4.
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...
 
5.
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...
 
6.
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.
 
8.
Murray Gold
Composer, Doctor Who
Five-time BAFTA nominee Murray Gold has been the composer of Doctor Who since its 2005 re-launch. One of the most inspired and uncompromising composers in his field, Gold composes for theatre, film, and television. In addition to his two BAFTA nominations for Doctor Who, Gold earned BAFTA nominations for Vanity Fair...
 
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10.
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...
 
12.
Christopher Young
Composer, Spider-Man 3
Composer Christopher Young was born on April 28, 1957 in Red Bank, New Jersey. After graduating from Hampshire College in Massachusetts with a Bachelor of Arts degree in music, Young went on to pursue his post-graduate studies at North Texas State University. Christopher moved to Los Angeles, California in 1980...
 
13.
Daniel Licht
Composer, Dexter
Daniel Licht was born in March 1957. Growing up in Detoit he first started playing music at high school and later studied jazz and composition at Hampshire College, Massachusetts. Upon graduating he moved to New York, establishing himself on the music scene but using the city as a base to compose internationally for stage and dance companies...
 
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16.
John Ottman
John Ottman holds dual distinctions as a leading film composer and an award winning film editor. Ottman has often completed both monumental tasks on the same films. Such remarkable double duties have included The Usual Suspects, X-Men 2, Superman Returns, Valkyrie, and Jack the Giant Killer. He has also held producer roles on several of these films...
 
17.
John Debney
Music Department, Sin City
Academy® Award nominated and Emmy® Award winner John Debney is considered one of the most prolific and successful composers in Hollywood. His unique ability to create memorable work across a variety of genres, as well as his reputation for being remarkably collaborative, have made him the first choice of top level producers and directors...
 
18.
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...
 
19.
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...
 
20.
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"...
 
21.
Henry Jackman
Henry Jackman, born in Hillingdon, Middlesex, UK, began composing his first symphony at age six, and was an accomplished composer by age nine. He went on to study classical music at St. Paul's Cathedral Choir School, Eton College, Framlingham College and Oxford University. As a teenager, he became heavily influenced by the underground rave scene...
 
23.
John Powell
Composer, Rio
 
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26.
Don Davis
Composer, The Matrix
 
27.
Shirley Walker
Music Department, True Lies
Shirley Walker was born in Napa, California in 1945. She was educated at Pleasant Hill High School; attended San Francisco State College on piano scholarship; studied composition with Dr. Roger Nixon; and piano with Harald Logan of Berkeley, California. She was soloist with San Francisco Symphony while in high school; performed with various hotel, jazz & art bands in San Francisco, 1964 - 1967...
 
28.
Ben Foster
Music Department, Prometheus
 
29.
Trent Reznor
Trent Reznor is an American songwriter/musician/producer and sole member of multi-platinum act Nine Inch Nails, and now an Academy Award winning film composer. He began creating music as a child in Western Pennsylvania, first on piano and then taking up other instruments. He eventually moved to Cleveland...
 
30.
Tyler Bates
Tyler Bates is a Los Angeles-born composer who has scored more than sixty feature films, hundreds of episodes of television, major studio video games and artist records. Bates has more than twenty commercially released film soundtrack albums, several of which debuted number one at the box-office. Bates' recent work includes Marvel's 2014 smash hit...
 
31.
Tarô Iwashiro
Composer, Aguri
 
32.
Charlie Clouser
Composer, Saw
Charlie Clouser is a multi-instrumentalist and composer for film, television, and games who lives in Los Angeles. The recipient of ten BMI Film & TV Music awards, Charlie has also received ten platinum and gold record awards for his work with nine inch nails, White Zombie, and others. His scores for...
 
33.
Robert J. Kral
Composer, Angel
 
34.
Nobuo Uematsu
He's been called the John Williams of the video game world, and the description is apt. Born in Kouchi City, Japan on March 21, 1959, Nobuo started playing the piano at the age of 12 and has never been formerly taught. By his own admission, he said he wanted to learn to play the piano because he wanted to be like Elton John...
 
35.
Graeme Revell
Composer, Sin City
Graeme Revell was born in New Zealand in 1955. He was graduated from The University of Auckland with degrees in economics and politics. He is a classically trained pianist and French horn player. Revell worked for as a regional planner in Australia and Indonesia and as an orderly in an Australian psychiatric hospital...
 
36.
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...
 
37.
Rolfe Kent
Music Department, Dexter
 
38.
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...
 
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40.
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...
 
41.
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...
 
42.
John Murphy
John Murphy is a British film composer from Liverpool. He began composing music scores for films in the early 1990s, working on several successful British movies, enjoying particular success with the soundtracks to Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (1998) and Snatch (2000). Since 2000, Murphy has been based in Los Angeles...
 
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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46.
Carter Burwell
Music Department, Fargo
 
47.
Jeremy Soule
A native of Keokuk, Iowa, Jeremy Soule began life as a passionate composer of symphonic music at a very early age. Since the age of five, Soule took an intense interest in the symphony orchestra. "The Orchestra is the ultimate instrument. I find that it has the ability to define nearly every human emotion in existence" stated Soule from his Cascadian studio in the Great Northwest of America...
 
48.
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...
 
50.
Bear McCreary
Bear McCreary is a degreed graduate of the prestigious USC Thornton School of Music (in 'Composition and Recording Arts'). Bear McCreary was one of a small and select group of proteges of the late, many-honored film composer Elmer Bernstein. Although he is now firmly in the mainstream of film composition...