The Best Music Composers of Film History

by bigrudedogg87 | created - 05 Aug 2012 | updated - 06 Aug 2012 | Public

1. Jerry Goldsmith

Music_department | Star Trek: First Contact

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 ...

2. John Carpenter

Writer | The Fog

John Howard Carpenter was born in Carthage, New York, to mother Milton Jean (Carter) and father Howard Ralph Carpenter. His family moved to Bowling Green, Kentucky, where his father, a professor, was head of the music department at Western Kentucky University. He attended Western Kentucky ...

As well as a great horror film director.

3. Ennio Morricone

Composer | The Hateful Eight

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 ...

4. Tangerine Dream

Composer | Legend

The pioneering German collective Tangerine Dream has been delivering their distinctive style of ambient music for nearly three decades, laying down a foundation of sound textures and sonic imagery that has influenced many of today's electronic musicians. Founded in 1967 by fine art aficinado Edgar ...

5. Bernard Herrmann

Soundtrack | Taxi Driver

The man behind the low woodwinds that open Citizen Kane (1941), the shrieking violins of Psycho (1960), and the plaintive saxophone of Taxi Driver (1976) 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 ...

6. Claudio Simonetti

Composer | The Editor

Claudio Simonetti was born on February 19, 1952 in São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil. He is a composer, known for The Editor (2014), Dawn of the Dead (1978) and Suspiria (1977).

7. Harry Manfredini

Composer | Friday the 13th

Film composer Harry Manfredini specialises in writing for horror films, but is also a song writer and jazz soloist. From his haunting dramatic scores for The Friday the 13th films, to his adventurous music for The Omegma Code, Harry Manfredini has established himself as a motion picture music ...

8. Christopher Young

Composer | Entrapment

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, ...

9. Fabio Frizzi

Soundtrack | Kill Bill: Vol. 1

Fabio Frizzi was born on July 2, 1951 in Bologna, Emilia-Romagna, Italy. He is a composer, known for Kill Bill: Vol. 1 (2003), Saint Frankenstein (2015) and Devil Fish (1984).

10. Goblin

Composer | Dawn of the Dead

For 25 years, Goblin has been scoring soundtracks for Italian films, mainly Giallo-style films directed by Dario Argento. The group consisted of keyboardist Claudio Simonetti, percussionist Walter Martino, bassist Fabio Pignatelli, guitarist Massimo Morante, percussionist Agostino Marangolo, and ...

11. Pino Donaggio

Composer | Dressed to Kill

Born in Burano (Venice) in 1941, Pino Donaggio studied violin at the Conservatory of Venice and Milan.

After a period of adolescent performer of classical music with the Solisti Veneti and the Soloists of Milan, in 1959 he began to devote himself to the pop music that soon led to international ...

12. Stelvio Cipriani

Composer | Anonimo veneziano

He studied piano and harmony at Santa Cecilia Conservatory in Rome. In 1957 he started playing light music, being the pianist of important singers such as Rita Pavone. In USA he studied jazz with Dave Brubeck. In 1966 he was called by Cam to compose his first soundtrack: The Bounty Killer, a film ...

13. Simon Boswell

Soundtrack | Hobo with a Shotgun

Simon Boswell was born in London, UK on October 15th, 1956. He is a film composer with more than 90 films to his credit.

At seventeen Simon went to Pembroke College in Cambridge to study English Literature. Already an accomplished guitarist, and whilst still at college, he was signed by ...

14. Rick Wakeman

Soundtrack | Crimes of Passion

Rick Wakeman's work on the classic albums of the progressive rock band Yes, his hugely successful solo albums, as well as his contributions to classic David Bowie songs, has earned him a reputation as one of rock's greatest ever keyboardists. Wakeman was educated at Drayton Manor County Grammar ...

15. José Manuel Pagán

Composer | Pa negre

José Manuel Pagán is known for his work on Pa negre (2010), L'illa de l'holandès (2001) and Tic Tac (1997).

16. Jay Chattaway

Composer | Star Trek: Voyager

Jay Chattaway was born on July 8, 1946 in Monongahela, Pennsylvania, USA. He is a composer, known for Star Trek: Voyager (1995), Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (1993) and Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987).

17. Danny Elfman

Music_department | The Nightmare Before Christmas

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 ...

18. Fabio Pignatelli

Composer | Dawn of the Dead

Fabio Pignatelli is known for his work on Dawn of the Dead (1978), Suspiria (1977) and Shaun of the Dead (2004).

19. Charles Bernstein

Composer | A Nightmare on Elm Street

Talented, prolific and versatile film composer Charles Bernstein was born on February 28, 1943 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He conducted his own orchestral music at age sixteen and studied composition with Vitorio Giannini and Vincent Persichetti at Juilliard. Bernstein also attended the University ...

20. Alan Howarth

Sound_department | Escape from New York

Alan Howarth's high school and college days took place in Cleveland, Ohio. Playing music in local rock bands, he opened for national touring acts including "The Who", and "Cream". He then began to create original music in bands "Braino" and "Pi Corp, utilizing synthesizers to make electronic music....

21. Jack Eric Williams

Composer | Nightmare

Jack Eric Williams was a promising composer, lyricist, actor, and teacher who is most remembered for creating the role of Beadle Bamford in the original Broadway production of Stephen Sondheim's Sweeney Todd. In addition to his work as a performer, he wrote many scores for the theatre, including ...

Shame he didn't get to go on to score other films because I thought he did a good job scoring Romano Scavolini's Nightmare (1981). Only film to his credit.

22. Howard Shore

Music_department | The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring

Howard Shore is a Canadian composer, born in Toronto. He was born in a Jewish family. He started studying music when 8-years-old, and played as a member of bands by the time he was 13-years-old. He was interested in a professional career in music as a teenager. He studied music at the Berklee ...

23. Elmer Bernstein

Composer | Far from Heaven

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 ...

24. Jerome Dillon

Soundtrack | Bully

Jerome Dillon was born on July 16, 1969 in Columbus, Ohio, USA. He is a composer, known for Bully (2001), The Collector (2009) and No One Lives (2012).

25. Brad Fiedel

Composer | Terminator 2: Judgment Day

Extremely talented, prolific and versatile composer Brad Fiedel was born on March 10, 1951 in New York City. His mother was a dancer and his father was a composer and musician. Brad started out as a keyboardist for Hall & Oates. Fiedel first began composing music for movies in the mid-70s for such ...

26. Richard Einhorn

Composer | Tulennielijä

Modern-day classical music composer Richard Einhorn was born in 1952. In 1975 Einhorn graduated summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from Columbia University, where he studied composition and electronic music with Jack Beeson, Vladimir Ussachevsky, and Mario Davidovsky. In 1977 Richard produced a ...

27. Philip Glass

Composer | The Hours

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 ...

28. Keith Emerson

Soundtrack | MacGruber

Hailed as a keyboard legend, Keith Emerson has been one of the most important figures to emerge from the thriving UK rock scene of the 1960s and 70s. He is known as one of the most prominent leaders in the progressive rock movement, fusing rock 'n' roll with a myriad of musical styles, such as ...

29. Guido De Angelis

Composer | Il mondo di Yor

Guido De Angelis was born on December 22, 1944 in Rocca di Papa, Lazio, Italy. He is a composer and producer, known for Yor, the Hunter from the Future (1983), All the Way Boys (1972) and Grindhouse (2007).

30. Maurizio De Angelis

Composer | Il mondo di Yor

Maurizio De Angelis was born on February 22, 1947 in Rome, Lazio, Italy. He is a composer, known for Yor, the Hunter from the Future (1983), All the Way Boys (1972) and Grindhouse (2007).

31. Oliver Onions

Soundtrack | ...Più forte ragazzi!

Oliver Onions was born as George Oliver Onions. He was previously married to Berta Ruck.

32. Massimo Morante

Composer | Dawn of the Dead

Massimo Morante is known for his work on Dawn of the Dead (1978), Suspiria (1977) and Shaun of the Dead (2004).

33. John Harrison

Director | Dune

John Harrison began his career directing rock videos and working as 1st Asst. Director for famed horror director,George A. Romero (Night of the Living Dead (1968)/Creepshow (1982)). Harrison wrote and directed multiple episodes of Romero's classic TV series,Tales from the Darkside (1983)m], before ...

34. Bo Harwood

Composer | Happy Birthday to Me

Bo Harwood is known for his work on Happy Birthday to Me (1981), Ups & Downs (1981) and Terror Train (1980).

36. Carlo Maria Cordio

Composer | Troll 2

Carlo Maria Cordio is known for his work on Troll 2 (1990), Ator, the Fighting Eagle (1982) and Lone Runner (1986).

37. Mark Isham

Composer | Blade

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, ...

38. Paul Zaza

Composer | Murder by Decree

Canadian composer and songwriter Paul Zaza started out as a classically trained pianist. Zaza has a degree from the prestigious Toronto Conservatory of Music. Moreover, Paul played bass in a Canadian touring company production of the hit musical "Hair" and toured with the The 5th Dimension in the ...

39. John Murphy

Composer | Sunshine

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 ...

40. Brian May

Composer | Mad Max

Brian May rates highly as one of the best film music composers in the history of Australian cinema. May's scores are distinguished by their full, rich and supremely melodic orchestration. Brian was born on July 28, 1934 in Adelaide, South Australia. He studied as a pianist, violinist and conductor ...

42. François-Eudes Chanfrault

Composer | Haute tension

François-Eudes Chanfrault was born on December 2, 1974 in Suresnes, Hauts-de-Seine, France. He was a composer, known for High Tension (2003), Inside (2007) and The Hills Have Eyes (2006). He was married to Lauranne. He died on March 11, 2016 in France.

43. John Williams

Music_department | Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace

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 ...

45. Hans Zimmer

Composer | Gladiator

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 ...

46. Alan Silvestri

Composer | The Polar Express

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 ...

47. Michael Giacchino

Composer | Star Trek

Michael Giacchino is an American composer of music for films, television and video games.

Giacchino composed the scores to the television series Lost, Alias and Fringe, the video game series Medal of Honor and Call of Duty and many films such as The Incredibles (2004), Star Trek (2009), Up (2009), ...

48. James Newton Howard

Composer | The Dark Knight

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 (1985) in 1985. He has been nominated for eight Academy Awards. He currently is a songwriter, ...

49. John Barry

Music_department | Dances with Wolves

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 ...

50. Graeme Revell

Composer | The Saint

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 ...

51. Vangelis

Composer | Alexander

Vangelis is a composer and performer who works almost exclusively with electronic instruments. He is probably most well known for his Chariots of Fire (1981) and Blade Runner (1982) soundtracks or for the tracks used in the Cosmos (1980) television series. He has been involved in many musical ...

52. Marco Beltrami

Composer | I, Robot

Marco Beltrami was born on October 7, 1966 in New York City, New York, USA. He is known for his work on I, Robot (2004), World War Z (2013) and The Wolverine (2013).

53. John Debney

Music_department | The Jungle Book

John Debney's career seemed destined for Hollywood, the son of Disney Studios producer Louis Debney, John grew up in nearby Glendale, California where he got early inspiration for film and music growing up on the Disney Studio lot. The child of two musicians, John showed an early aptitude for music...

54. Javier Navarrete

Composer | El laberinto del fauno

Javier Navarrete was born in 1956 in Teruel, Aragón, Spain. He is known for his work on Pan's Labyrinth (2006), Wrath of the Titans (2012) and Byzantium (2012).

55. David Newman

Composer | The Nutty Professor

In his 25 year career, David Newman has scored over 100 films, ranging from War of the Roses, Matilda, Bowfinger and Heathers, to the more recent The Spirit, Serenity, and Alvin and the Chipmonks: The Squeakuel. Newman's music has brought to life the critically acclaimed dramas Brokedown Palace and...

56. Alan Menken

Soundtrack | Beauty and the Beast

New York-songwriter and film composer, Alan Menken is best known for his unforgettable music for Disney movies like Calypso music of The Little Mermaid (1989), the tale as old as time of Beauty and the Beast (1991), the Arabian tale Aladdin (1992) or the beloved song Colors of the Wind from ...

57. George Fenton

Composer | Groundhog Day

George Fenton was born on October 19, 1950 in London, England as George Richard Ian Howe. He is known for his work on Groundhog Day (1993), Ever After: A Cinderella Story (1998) and The Bounty Hunter (2010).

58. Randy Newman

Soundtrack | The Princess and the Frog

Randy Newman was born on November 28, 1943 in Los Angeles, California, USA as Randall Stuart Newman. He has been married to Gretchen Preece since 1990. They have two children. He was previously married to Roswitha Schmale.

59. Elliot Goldenthal

Composer | Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within

Elliot Goldenthal is an Academy Award-winning composer best known for his original music scores for such films as Frida (2002) and Across the Universe (2007), 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. ...

60. David Arnold

Soundtrack | Casino Royale

David Arnold was born on January 23, 1962 in Luton, England. He is known for his work on Casino Royale (2006), Independence Day (1996) and Godzilla (1998). He has been married to Ellie Pole since June 8, 1996. They have three children.

61. Basil Poledouris

Composer | The Hunt for Red October

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...

62. Michael Kamen

Soundtrack | Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves

Michael Kamen was born on April 15, 1948 in New York City, New York, USA as Michael Arnold Kamen. He was married to Sandra Keenan. He died on November 18, 2003 in London, England.

63. tomandandy

Composer | The Strangers

They are Tom Hajdu and Andy Milburn. Andy from Texas and Tom from Canada. They met at Princeton University's Graduate Music Department.

64. Don Peake

Composer | The People Under the Stairs

Prolific and versatile musician Donald Geoffrey Peake was born on June 7, 1940 in Los Angeles, California. Peake began his long and distinguished music career in 1961 as a lead guitarist for the Everly Brothers. Don holds the distinction of being the first white guitarist to play with the Ray ...

65. David Hess

Actor | The Last House on the Left

David Alexander Hess was born in New York City in 1936. He began his professional career as a songwriter for Shalimar Music, in 1957, under the pseudonym of David Hill. His first recording was a quick hit, which was later performed by and credited to Elvis Presley, "All Shook Up."

David went on to ...

As well was a legendary actor of such films the original Last House on the Left, Hitch Hike, House on the Edge of the Park and Swamp Thing.

66. Trevor Morris

Composer | The Tudors

2 Time EMMY Award winning composer Trevor Morris is a dual Citizen of Canada and Great Britain, living and working in Los Angeles. Trevor composes music for Feature Film, Television and Video Games. He is most recognized for his Television work on "The Tudors", "The Borgias" and "Vikings". As well ...

69. Walter Martino

Music_department | Profondo rosso

Walter Martino is known for his work on Deep Red (1975), Notturno (1983) and Faceless (1987).

71. Roberto Donati

Composer | Cannibal ferox

Roberto Donati is known for his work on Cannibal Ferox (1981), Eaten Alive! (1980) and Roma a mano armata (1976).

72. Fiamma Maglione

Actress | Cannibal ferox

Fiamma Maglione is known for her work on Cannibal Ferox (1981), Eaten Alive! (1980) and Concorde Affaire '79 (1979). She was married to Mino Loy. She died in January 2003.

73. Wendy Carlos

Music_department | A Clockwork Orange

Wendy Carlos, one of the great innovators in synthesized and electronic music, was born as Walter Carlos in Rhode Island on November 14, 1939. She underwent a sex-change operation in 1972, details of which she revealed during a surprise Playboy interview in 1979. Walter's last credited release is "...

75. Steve Boeddeker

Sound_department | All Is Lost

Steve Boeddeker joined Skywalker Sound in 1995 as an assistant sound designer for The Frighteners and Mars Attacks! He began his career in sound creating high end audio libraries for digital sampling keyboards at companies such as Emu, Akai and Roland. He did freelance CD mastering and was a ...

76. Eugene Marks

Music_department | Enter the Dragon

Eugene Marks was born on May 24, 1923 in Los Angeles, California, USA as Eugene Robert Marks. He is known for his work on Enter the Dragon (1973), Critters (1986) and Spaceballs (1987). He died on January 20, 2013 in Thousand Oaks, California.

79. Francesco De Masi

Composer | Lone Wolf McQuade

Born in Rome, he studied composition at the Neapolitan Conservatory "S. Pietro a Majella" under the direction of M° Achille Longo then proceeded to study orchestra direction at the Chigiana Academy in Siena with Paul Van Kempen and Franco Ferrara. He also graduated in horn, after having studied ...

80. Javier Álvarez

Composer | Cronos

Javier Álvarez is a composer and actor, known for Cronos (1993), 0.56% ¿Qué le pasó a México? (2010) and H2Omx (2014).

84. Tyler Bates

Composer | Guardians of the Galaxy

Long before he cemented himself as a highly sought-after composer, guitarist, songwriter, and record producer, Tyler Bates resided in a haunted rural Illinois log cabin ranch previously owned by none other than Al Capone. Between two exorcisms on the property and an "odd" job unwittingly digging ...

85. Don Ellis

Music_department | The French Connection

Don Ellis was born on July 25, 1934 in Los Angeles, California, USA as Donald Johnson Ellis. He is known for his work on The French Connection (1971), Priceless (2006) and The Seven-Ups (1973). He died on December 17, 1978 in Hollywood, California.

86. 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...

87. Giorgio Moroder

Soundtrack | Flashdance

Giorgio Moroder was born on April 26, 1940 in Urtijëi, Trentino-Alto Adige, Italy as Hansjörg Moroder.

88. Matt Clifford

Composer | The Return of the Living Dead

Matt Clifford is known for his work on The Return of the Living Dead (1985), The Basket Case (2007) and The Grand Tour (2016).

89. J. Peter Robinson

Composer | Cocktail

J. Peter Robinson was born on September 16, 1945 in Fulmer, Buckinghamshire, England. He is known for his work on Cocktail (1988), Wayne's World (1992) and The World's Fastest Indian (2005). He has been married to Denise Hudson since 2000.

90. Barry Goldberg

Composer | Captain America

Barry Goldberg is known for his work on Captain America (1990), Forrest Gump (1994) and Bang! The Bert Berns Story (2016).

92. Stefano Mainetti

Music_department | Tale of the Mummy

Mainetti, born in Rome, Italy, August 8th 1957. After studying classical guitar attended Santa Cecilia Conservatory of Rome where he earned a Bachelor of Music, summa cum laude in Composition. He studied Conducting with Cesare Croci and Ennio Nicotra and holds a 1st class honours Master of Music in...

93. Richard Band

Composer | From Beyond

Richard Howard Band (born December 28, 1953 in Los Angeles, CA) is an American composer of film and television music. He has scored more than 80 films, including From Beyond which won the award for Best Original Soundtrack at the Sitges - Catalan International Film Festival. His score for ...

94. Robert O. Ragland

Composer | Top of the World

Robert O. Ragland is one of the most prolific music composers in the film industry. Originally from Chicago, Ragland gave up a comfortable executive position in advertising to gamble on his musical talents in Hollywood. Since that decision made in 1968, Ragland has made his impressive presence ...

95. Lalo Schifrin

Music_department | Rush Hour

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 (1966), Mannix (1967), Starsky and Hutch (1975), Cool Hand Luke (1967), and Bullitt (1968). Schifrin has ...

96. Bill Conti

Composer | For Your Eyes Only

Bill Conti was born on April 13, 1942 in Providence, Rhode Island, USA. He is known for his work on For Your Eyes Only (1981), Rocky (1976) and The Right Stuff (1983).

99. 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 ...

100. RZA

Soundtrack | The Man with the Iron Fists

RZA was born on July 5, 1969 in Brownsville, Brooklyn, New York City, New York, USA as Robert Fitzgerald Diggs. He has been married to Talani Rabb since August 29, 2009. He was previously married to Eboni Mills.

A talented legendary rap artist of WU Tang Clan & Gravediggaz, musician, actor and producer.