The 30 best film score composers

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1.
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...
 
3.
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...
 
4.
André Previn
Music Department, Fight Club
 
5.
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)...
 
6.
Mikis Theodorakis
Mikis Theodorakis was born in the Greek island of Chios, in 1925. The exact same year that the other great composer of Greece was born in Xanthi, Manos Hatzidakis. He fought during the 2nd World War, and he was captured at the city of Tripoli. He was tortured, but when he was set free, he joined the partisan army of Greece named EAM...
 
7.
Dimitri Tiomkin
Music Department, It's a Wonderful Life
Dimitri Tiomkin was a Russian Jewish composer who emigrated to America and became one of the most distinguished and best-loved music writers of Hollywood. He won a hallowed place in the pantheon of the most successful and productive composers in American film history, earning himself four Oscars and sixteen Academy Awards nominations...
 
8.
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...
 
9.
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)...
 
10.
Trevor Jones
Composer, Notting Hill
As a child in Cape Town, Trevor Jones lived opposite the Gem Cinema. The theater was so old and worn out that there was often a loss of the soundtrack, which caused him to realize its power. The fact that everyone in his family worked in film or the theater made it easy to get support in his career choice...
 
11.
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 in grade school at Seattle's Garfield High School...
 
12.
Henry Mancini
Music Department, The Pink Panther
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...
 
13.
Leonard Bernstein
Soundtrack, Moonrise Kingdom
Renowned composer ("West Side Story", "Candide", "On The Town"), conductor, arranger, pianist, educator, author, TV/radio host, educated at the Boston Latin School and Harvard University (BA) with Walter Piston. Edward Burlingame Hill and A. Tillman Merritt. He studied piano with Helen Coates, Heinrich Gebhard and Isabelle Vengerova...
 
14.
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...
 
15.
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...
 
16.
Andrew Lloyd Webber
Music Department, The Phantom of the Opera
Andrew Lloyd Webber is arguably the most successful composer of our time. He is best known for stage and film adaptations of his musicals Jesus Christ Superstar, Cats (1994), Evita, and The Phantom of the Opera. He was born on March 22, 1948, in South Kensington in London, England, the first of two sons of William Lloyd Webber...
 
17.
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...
 
18.
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...
 
19.
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...
 
20.
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.
 
21.
Malcolm Arnold
Born in Northampton on 21st October 1921, Malcolm Arnold studied composition with Gordon Jacob and trumpet with Ernest Hall at the Royal College of Music. In 1941 he joined the trumpet section of the London Philharmonic Orchestra, becoming principal by 1943. After two years of war service and one season...
 
22.
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...
 
23.
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".
 
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25.
Hugo Friedhofer
Music Department, Casablanca
Hugo Friedhofer -- how many times have you seen that name in the credits of 1930s and '40s movies for "orchestration" or "musical arranger" and thought -- Gee, what a busy guy! He was, and, ironically, much of that work went uncredited. He is not usually mentioned with the great film composers of early Hollywood...
 
26.
Victor Young
Music Department, Logan
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...
 
27.
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...
 
28.
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...
 
29.
Thomas Newman
Music Department, WALL·E
Thomas Newman is an American film score composer. He was born in Los Angeles. His father was notable film score composer Alfred Newman (1900-1970). The Newman family is of Russian-Jewish descent, and includes several other well-known musicians. Thomas' mother Martha Louis Montgomery (1920-2005) wanted her sons to have a musical education...