Favourite USA Composers

No ranking, just sorted First Name / Family Name.
Personal favourites are Elmer Bernstein and Jerry Goldsmith.
John Williams is kinda uncomparable and for sure plays in a league of his own.
Thanks for checking, enjoy.
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1.
Alan Williams
Composer, Amazon
 
2.
Albert Glasser
One of the most prolific B-movie composers, Albert Glasser started off as a copyist in the music department at Warner Brothers in the late 1930s, learning the art of film scoring from scratch while working under such big guns as Max Steiner and Erich Wolfgang Korngold. He graduated to orchestrating, and by the mid-'40s was composing and directing his own scores...
 
4.
Bebe Barron
Music Department, Forbidden Planet
 
5.
Bill Conti
Music Department, Falcon Crest
 
6.
Billy Goldenberg
Music Department, Rhoda
Composer, conductor, arranger, pianist and songwriter, the son of Morris Goldenberg. He was educated at Columbia College (BA), where he composed and arranged the Columbia Varsity Shows, and also Camp Tamiment. He took private music studies with Hall Overton and he wrote incidental music for the Broadway revue "An Evening With Mike Nichols & Elaine May"...
 
7.
Billy May
Music Department, The Green Hornet
Distinguished multiple Grammy-winning trumpeter, arranger, conductor and songwriter whose instantly-recognizable style remains a longtime trademark. The son of a roofer and a youthful asthmatic, his physician advised therapy through playing the tuba. In his school band, he developed an appreciation of the other instruments and became a self-taught trumpeter and trombonist...
 
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9.
Bob Crewe
Soundtrack, Moulin Rouge!
Bob Crewe was an American songwriter, singer, manager, record producer and fine artist. His career is among the most varied, successful and innovative in pop music history. He is probably best known for producing and co-writing with Bob Gaudio a string of Top 10 singles for The Four Seasons. He is equally known for his hit recordings with The Rays...
 
10.
Bob James
Composer, Taxi
 
11.
Bobby Scott
Soundtrack, Zoolander
 
12.
Burton Lane
Soundtrack, The Fisher King
Composer, songwriter ("That Old Devil Moon") and author, educated at the High School of Commerce and Dwight Academy, and a private music student of Simon Bucharoff. At fifteen, he was a staff writer for the Remick Music Company. He wrote the Broadway stage scores for "Earl Carroll Vanities of 1931"...
 
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14.
Carmine Coppola
Composer, conductor, arranger and flautist, educated at the Manhattan School of Music (BA, MA) and Juilliard (on scholarship) (MM). He was first flautist for Radio City Music Hall from 1934 to 1936, the Detroit Symphony from 1936 to 1941, the NBC Toscanini Orchestra from 1942 to 1948 and staff arranger for Radio City Music Hall from 1948 to 1956...
 
15.
Charles Bernstein
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 of California; he received an Outstanding Graduate of the College Award...
 
16.
Charles Fox
Music Department, Barbarella
Graduated High School of Music & Art in New York, then studied composition with Nadia Boulanger in Paris. In addition to extensive film and TV work, composed music for hit songs including "Killing Me Softly With His Song", "I Got A Name" and "Ready To Take A Chance Again". Classical compositions include two full length ballets: "Song For Dead Warriors" (San Franciso Ballet Company...
 
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18.
Chet Baker
Soundtrack, The Sixth Sense
Born Chesney Henry Baker Jr. on 23 December 1929, in Yale, Oklahoma, Chet Baker was the son of Vera Baker and Chesney H. Baker Sr. The family moved to California in about 1939. A couple of years later, around the time that the US entered World War II, young Chet began playing the horn. Initially his father had given him a trombone...
 
19.
Chico Hamilton
Composer, Boogie Nights
Composer, conductor and drummer who formed his first band with schoolmates Ernie Royal, Charlie Mingus and Illinois Jacquet. He played in the orchestras of Lionel Hampton, Lester Young, Floyd Ray, Jim Mundy, Count Basie and Charlie Barnet. He formed a quartet with Gerry Mulligan in 1952...
 
20.
Clay Pitts
Music Department, I Drink Your Blood
 
21.
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...
 
22.
Dave Grusin
Music Department, Good Times
 
23.
David Hess
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 compose "Start Movin'" for Sal Mineo and "Rockin' Shoes" for the The Ames Brothers...
 
24.
David Amram
David Amram has been described as "the Renaissance man of American music." He has composed over 100 orchestral and chamber works, written two operas, and many scores for theatre and films. He has collaborated with such notables as Leonard Bernstein, Dizzy Gillespie, Dustin Hoffman, Charlie Mingus, Elia Kazan...
 
25.
David Newman
Composer, Ice Age
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 Hoffa; top-grossing comedies Norbit...
 
26.
David Shire
Music Department, Zodiac
 
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28.
Duke Ellington
Soundtrack, The Matrix
Composer ("It Don't Mean a Thing if It Ain't Got That Swing", "Sophisticated Lady", "Mood Indigo", "Solitude", "In a Mellotone", "Satin Doll"), pianist and conductor, holder of an honorary music degree from Wilberforce University and an LHD from Milton College, Duke Ellington led his own orchestra by 1918...
 
30.
Eddie Sauter
Composer, Mickey One
Co-leader of the famed Sauter-Finegan Orchestra (1952-1958), composer, arranger and conductor, he was educated at Columbia University and Juilliard, and studied under Stefan Wolpe, Bernard Wagenaar, and Louis Gruenberg. He joined the Archie Bleyer Orchestra in 1932, and arranged for Red Norvo, Mildred Bailey (1925-1939)...
 
31.
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...
 
32.
 
33.
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...
 
34.
Frank De Vol
Music Department, Kiss Me Deadly
Born on 20 September 1911, in West Virginia, Frank De Vol joined ASCAP in 1964. He collaborated musically with Mack David and Bobby Helfer, and his popular-song compositions include "I've Written A Letter to Daddy", "What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?", "Hush ... Hush Sweet Charlotte", "I and Claudie", "My Chinese Fair Lady", and "The Chaperone".
 
35.
Fred Karger
Music Department, Kissin' Cousins
 
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37.
Fred Myrow
Composer, Soylent Green
Composer Fred Myrow was born on July 16, 1939 in Brooklyn, New York. His grandfather was music publishing giant, producer and manager Irving Mills and his father was noted composer Josef Myrow (he wrote the popular hit song "You Make Me Feel So Young"). He moved to Hollywood, California at age six....
 
38.
George Bruns
Composer, Robin Hood
Born in Oregon in 1914, George Bruns was the son of a sawmill worker. He took music lessons as a child, becoming proficient on the piano, tuba and trombone. He attended Oregon State Agricultural College, and in order to pay tuition he played in the ROTC band. Deciding on a musical career, he left college to be a full-time musician, and was soon playing with the likes of Jack Teagarden...
 
39.
George Gershwin
He was born Jacob Gershowitz, 26 September 1898, in Brooklyn, New York, of Russian-Jewish immigrants. As a boy he could play popular and classical works on his brother Ira's piano by ear. In 1913 he quit school to study music and began composing for Tin Pan Alley; by 1919 he had his first hit "Swanee" and his first Broadway show "La...
 
40.
Geordie Hormel
Music Department, Night of the Living Dead
George A. Hormel was the son of Jay Catherwood and Germaine (DuBois) Hormel, CEO's of the George A. Hormel Company in Austin, Minnesota, the creators of Spam. He was the grandson of George A. Hormel, the founder of the Hormel meat packing plant in Austin. In his parent's Chateau-style home near Austin Geordie operated a hotel and restaurant known as Kingswood...
 
41.
Gil Melle
A recording artist, song writer, jazz musician and composer, Gil Melle launched his career in the sixties. He first displayed his talent for art work and was also a regular jazz performer in Greenwich Village in Manhattan. After relocating to Los Angeles in 1969, Gil Melle displayed his musical talent...
 
43.
Harry Connick Jr.
Joseph Harry Fowler Connick, Jr. was born in New Orleans, Louisiana. He is the son of Anita Frances (Levy), a lawyer and judge, and Harry Connick, Sr. (Joseph Harry Fowler Connick), who served as District Attorney of New Orleans from 1973 to 2003. His father is of Irish, English, and German ancestry...
 
44.
 
46.
Jack Ackerman
Music Department, Faces
 
47.
Jack Nitzsche
Music Department, Death Proof
 
48.
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...
 
50.
Jeff Alexander
Composer, Julia
Composer, author, conductor and arranger. He was educated at the Becker Conservatory, and studied under Edmund Ross and Joseph Schillinger. For his work on "The Seeing Eye", he was presented with the New York International Film Fest Award. He joined ASCAP in 1952, and his chief musical collaborators included Jack Brooks and Larry Orenstein...
 
51.
Jerry Fielding
Composer, Hogan's Heroes
A three-time Oscar nominee, Jerry Fielding was among the boldest and most experimental of all Hollywood film composers. His music typically utilized advanced compositional procedures, producing dense, often richly dissonant orchestral textures, sometimes flavored with jazz. Fielding's film music career was marked by enduring and rewarding collaborations with Sam Peckinpah...
 
52.
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...
 
53.
Jim Helms
Composer, Kung Fu
 
55.
Jimmy Webb
Soundtrack, Fargo
Acclaimed singer, songwriter and composer Jimmy Webb was born on August 15, 1946 in Elk City, Oklahoma. His father was a Baptist minister. An avid lover of music since he was a little boy, Webb made his first public appearance as a performer playing the organ at his father's church. He also improvised...
 
56.
John Carpenter
Writer, Halloween
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 University and then USC film school in Los Angeles...
 
57.
John Corigliano
Composer, The Red Violin
Composer, educated at Columbia College (BA, cum laude). He was music director for WBAI.
 
58.
John Lurie
John Lurie is a musician, actor, and painter. In 1978, he formed The Lounge Lizards jazz ensemble with his brother Evan, and the band made music for 20 years. Lurie has also composed scores for films, and his soundtrack for Get Shorty was nominated for a Grammy award. He had starring roles in the 1980s Jim Jarmusch films Stranger Than Paradise and Down by Law...
 
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61.
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)...
 
62.
Johnny Green
Music Department, Oliver!
Composer-pianist-arranger Johnny Green was born in Far Rockaway, New York. The son of musical parents, Green was accepted by Harvard at the age of 15, and entered the University in 1924. Between semesters, bandleader Guy Lombardo heard his Harvard Gold Coast Orchestra and hired him to create dance arrangements for his nationally famous orchestra...
 
63.
Johnny Mandel
Music Department, M*A*S*H
 
64.
Kenyon Hopkins
Music Department, 12 Angry Men
 
65.
Laurence Rosenthal
Music Department, Fantasy Island
Composer Laurence Rosenthal was born in Detroit, Michigan. He studied piano and composition at the Eastman School of Music and later with Nadia Boulanger in Paris. His symphonic compositions have been premiered by Leonard Bernstein with the New York Philarmonic, among others. He has composed extensively for films and television...
 
66.
 
67.
Marvin Hamlisch
Music Department, The Spy Who Loved Me
Composer, songwriter ("Sunshine, Lollipops and Rainbows"), and conductor, educated at the Professional Children's School, Juilliard, and Queens College. He was the musical director for Equity Library Theatre productions, and wrote songs for Liza Minnelli and for Julius Monk's 'Upstairs at the Downstairs' revues...
 
70.
Michael Kamen
Music Department, Lethal Weapon
 
71.
 
72.
Michel Rubini
Composer, Manhunter
Michel Rubini was born into a musical family on December 3, 1942 in Los Angeles, California. He started playing piano at age three and began his professional music career as an accompanist to his violinist father Jan Rubini. Michel started playing blues and gospel music at age thirteen and left classical music behind at age eighteen to focus instead on blues...
 
74.
Neal Hefti
Music Department, The Odd Couple
Composer ("'Batman' Theme), conductor, arrager and trumpeter, educated in high school and through private music study. He was a trumpeter and arranger with dance orchestras including those of Harry James, Woody Herman, and Charlie Spivak between 1941 and 1951. He was a staff arranger and arranger for the "Arthur Godfrey Show" and the "Kate Smith Show" over ABC...
 
75.
Nelson Riddle
Music Department, Route 66
Versatile Ameican arranger/conducter who started as a trombonist with several big bands, including Tommy Dorsey. In a long, distinguished career, he not only scored numerous films and television shows, but made many now-legendary recordings in collaboration with such people as Rosemary Clooney, Nat 'King' Cole...
 
76.
Oliver Nelson
Oliver Nelson began playing piano at age six and picked up the saxophone when he was eleven. Later he continued his musical education at Washington University in St. Louis, as well as studying with composer Elliott Carter. Nelson gained practical experience by playing in bands with Erskine Hawkins, Louie Bellson...
 
77.
Paul Glass
Music Department, General Hospital
Although born into a film star family (his father Gaston-Jacques Glass had taken over from John Wayne on the simultaneous French language version of The Big Trail in 1930), Paul Glass decided early to follow the path of serious music. After gaining a B.Mus. degree at the University of Southern California...
 
78.
 
79.
Paul Williams
Music Department, The Muppet Movie
Known for timeless classics such as "We've Only Just Begun", "Rainy Days and Mondays", "Evergreen", "Just an Old Fashioned Love Song" and "Rainbow Connection", Paul Williams is responsible for what will remain part of our popular culture for many years to come. His music has been recorded by some of the biggest names in the entertainment industry...
 
80.
Pete King
Music Department, An Affair to Remember
Composer, songwriter, conductor and arranger, educated at the University of Michigan and the Cincinnati Conservatory. He was an arranger for singers and orchestras, then a conductor for radio and television, recordings and films. Joining ASCAP in 1957, his popular-song compositions include "The Mood...
 
82.
Peter Schickele
Composer, Silent Running
Peter Schickele is a renowned American composer. Inspired by the music of Spike Jones, as a young teenager, he also studied composition and music history at Julliard. After graduating from Julliard he asked himself what in the world he was going to do with a PhD in music history, and proceeded to rewrite it (history...
 
83.
Quincy Jones
Considered to be one of the greatest minds in music and television history, Quincy Delight Jones, Jr. was born on March 14, 1933 in Chicago, Illinois. He is the son of Sarah Frances (Wells), a bank executive, and Quincy Delight Jones, Sr., a carpenter. Jones found his love for music while he was enrolled...
 
84.
Randy Edelman
Music Department, 27 Dresses
 
85.
Richard Band
Composer, Re-Animator
Brother to filmmaker Charles Band and son to veteran producer Albert Band, Richard Band is often similar to other film composers like Robert O. Ragland and Lalo Schifrin. The Band family has had a history of filmmaking. Richard's brother Charles, became a known executive producer when he founded Empire Entertainment...
 
86.
Ronald Stein
Composer, The Terror
Composer, conductor, pianist and author Ronald Stein was educated at Washington University (BA), the Yale School of Music and the University of Southern California. In college he wrote musical shows. He was named the assistant musical director for the St. Louis Municipal Opera in 1950, 1951 and 1954...
 
87.
Rudy Vallee
Soundtrack, Bonnie and Clyde
Rudy Vallee started his career as a saxophone player and singer and later became a band leader. In the 1920s and early 30s he had a hit radio program, The Fleishmann's Yeast Hour (where he was hated by his cast and crew due to his explosive ego-driven personality). In the early 1930's he was ranked with the likes of Bing Crosby and the tragic Russ Columbo in the Hit Parade...
 
88.
Ry Cooder
Music Department, Dead Man Walking
Born in Santa Monica, Ca., Ry Cooder, at the age of four had an accident which left him blind in one eye. He became a bit secluded and began playing the guitar. His biggest influences include Blind Willie Johnson, Arthur "Blind" Blake, Joseph Spence and Curtis Mayfield. Cooder has played on several albums from the Rolling Stones...
 
89.
Sammy Johns
Soundtrack, Starsky & Hutch
Singer/songwriter Sammy Johns was born February 7, 1946, in Charlotte, North Carolina. He received his first guitar as a present from his father at age nine. He started his own band, called The Devilles, while still in his teens. The Devilles lasted from 1963 to 1973, performed at various local clubs and recorded a few singles on the Dixie label...
 
91.
Stanley Wilson
Music Department, Wagon Train
 
93.
Thomas Newman
Music Department, WALL·E
 
94.
Tom Waits
Soundtrack, Fight Club
Thomas Alan Waits was born in Pomona, California, to schoolteachers Alma Fern (Johnson) and Jesse Frank Waits. Described as one of the last beatniks of the contemporary music, Waits in fact has two separate careers. From 1973 (LP "Closing Time") to 1983 ("One From The Heart" soundtrack), he recorded nine LPs for Asylum Records...
 
95.
 
96.
Vincent Gallo
Vincent Gallo. American-born, Buffalo, New York, 1961. Left home, moved to New York City in 1978, and began playing in the experimental musical group, Gray, with artist Jean Michel Basquiat. After leaving Gray, he formed the band, Bohack, and recorded the highly regarded avant-garde industrial noise album, "It Took Several Wives"...
 
97.
Wendy Carlos
Composer, The Shining
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 "Sonic Seasonings" (1972)...
 
98.
Werner Janssen
Conductor, composer and songwriter, a music student of Frederick Converse and holder of an honorary Mus. D. from Dartmouth College and a Prix de Rome from The American Academy in Rome. He was associate conductor (with Arturo Toscanini) of the New York Philharmonic in 1934, and conducted symphony orchestras throughout the world...
 
99.
William Loose
Music Department, Naked City
 
100.
Alexander Janko
Music Department, My Big Fat Greek Wedding
An award-winning composer, songwriter and screenplay scribe, Alexander Janko's creative repertoire spans the music, literary, legit, TV and film industries. Classically trained as a cellist, his first single "Omniscient Woman" won Billboard's Best Original Song competition in 1991. After graduating Princeton University...