My Top 10 Film Composers

These are the very best composers who have all produced a substabtial body of work of the highest quality.
Of course the list could be expanded to include notable ommissions like Miklos Rozca, Erich Wolfgang Korngold, Howard Shore and James Horner.
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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 Golsmith had a prolific career as an innovative composer who could tackle every genre. He was nominated for an Oscar 17 times but only won one for The Omen.
As technically skilled as John Williams but more varied in his approach.
His collaboration with Franklin J Schaffner produced a string of musically groundbreaking scores in particular Planet of the Apes.
His work includes The Blue Max, Our Man Flint, Papillon, Star Trek, Chinatown, L.A. Confidential and Basic Instinct. ” - markgunston-197-661169
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...
“ Most widely known for his scores for The Magnificent Seven and The Great Escape. Nominated 14 times but only won once for Thoroughly Modern Millie. ” - markgunston-197-661169
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...
“ Incredibly prolific composer who was nominated for 24 Oscars.
He did not win, however, for his most famous score Gone With the Wind. ” - markgunston-197-661169
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)...
“ A massive 45 Oscar nominations and 5 wins. John Williams is probably the most well known and finacially succesful film composer of all time.
He won his first oscar for Fiddler on the Roof and others for Jaws, Star Wars, E.T. and Schindlers List ” - markgunston-197-661169
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)...
“ The King of the blockbuster, Hans Zimmer is the number one choice as composer for large scale movies today.
Gladiator, Pirates of the Caribbean and Batman Begins all bear his distinctive signature.
Often immitated, no one writes better Hero music. ” - markgunston-197-661169
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...
“ Incredibly innovative composer who has scored over 500 movies never won an Oscar in competition.
More a writer of themes than a traditional film composer Sergio Leone often choregraphed and edited his scenes after the music had been written by Morricone ” - markgunston-197-661169
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...
“ Although not as prolific as the other composers on this list he is highly regarded for his classic scores composed during his collaboration with Alfred Hitchcock, in particular Vertigo, North by Northwest and Psycho.
He only worked with directors who he felt were particularly sensitive to the use of music in film, including Orson Welles, which may explain his limited output. ” - markgunston-197-661169
Alfred Newman
Music Department, The King and I
“ Alfred Mewman, along with Max Steiner and Dimitri Tiomkin, is considered one of the 3 Godfathers of film music. He won 9 Oscars, more than any individual except Walt Disney and was nominated 45 times.
Oscar winning scores include How the West Was Won, The Greatest Story Ever Told and Love Is A many Splendoured Thing.
He was the head of a family of major Hollywood composers ” - markgunston-197-661169
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...
“ LThe most famous film composer of the 60s John Barry wrote the scores for 12 of the Bond films and several TV themes including The Persuaders.
He was one of the first composers to use a synthesizer, for On Her Majesty's Secret Service.
Won 5 Oscars including Out of Africa, Born Free and The Lion In WInter. ” - markgunston-197-661169
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...
“ Nominated 22 times for Oscar Dimitri's scores had a very distinctive and muscular style, he is most well known for his westerns including High Noon, Rio Bravo and The Alamo. ” - markgunston-197-661169