Best Film Composers of New Hollywood

by pookpooi | created - 10 Aug 2013 | updated - 23 Aug 2013 | Public

Only consider composers that have remarkable scores from 1985 - 2012, update once a year.

1. 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 ...

2. 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 ...

3. 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 ...

4. Alexandre Desplat

Composer | The King's Speech

Alexandre Desplat was born on August 23, 1961 in Paris, Île-de-France, France as Alexandre Michel Gerard Desplat. He is known for his work on The King's Speech (2010), Argo (2012) and The Queen (2006).

5. 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 ...

6. 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) ...

7. 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 ...

8. 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 ...

9. Maurice Jarre

Composer | Lawrence of Arabia

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, ...

10. 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).

11. Gabriel Yared

Composer | The Talented Mr. Ripley

Gabriel Yared stopped his law studies at the age of 20 to work as a professional music composer. He studied with Henri Dutilleux and Maurice Ohana. He worked as a composer, orchestrator or producer for such singers as Françoise Hardy, Charles Aznavour, Gilbert Bécaud and Mireille Mathieu. He made ...

12. Dave Grusin

Composer | The Firm

Dave Grusin was born on June 26, 1934 in Littleton, Colorado, USA as David Grusin. He is known for his work on The Firm (1993), The Graduate (1967) and Tootsie (1982).

13. 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, ...

14. 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 ...

15. 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 ...

16. 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.

17. 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 ...

18. Gustavo Santaolalla

Music_department | Brokeback Mountain

Argentine musician and leader of the now defunct bands "Arco Iris" and "Soluna", Gustavo Santaolalla was one of the references of his country's national music by the end of the 1960s and beginning of the 1970s. During the 70s he relocated to the United States, where he formed the band Wet Picnic, ...

19. Dario Marianelli

Composer | Atonement

Dario Marianelli was born on June 21, 1963 in Pisa, Tuscany, Italy. He is known for his work on Atonement (2007), Anna Karenina (2012) and Pride & Prejudice (2005).

20. 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 ...

21. Alberto Iglesias

Composer | Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

Alberto Iglesias was born in 1955 in Donostia-San Sebastián, Guipúzcoa, País Vasco, Spain as Alberto Iglesias Fernández-Berridi. He is known for his work on Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011), La piel que habito (2011) and The Constant Gardener (2005).

22. A.R. Rahman

Composer | Lagaan: Once Upon a Time in India

A two-time winner and five-times nominee of the Academy Award (Oscar), A. R. Rahman is popularly known as the man who has redefined contemporary Indian music. Rahman, according to a BBC estimate, has sold more than 150 million copies of his work comprising of music from more than 100 film ...

23. 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. ...

24. David Hirschfelder

Composer | The Dressmaker

David Hirschfelder was born in 1960 in Ballarat, Victoria, Australia. He is a composer, known for The Dressmaker (2015), The Railway Man (2013) and Australia (2008).

25. Patrick Doyle

Composer | Rise of the Planet of the Apes

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...

26. Michael Nyman

Composer | The Piano

Michael Nyman studied piano, harpsichord and music history with Alan Bush at the Royal Academy of Music, and musicology with Thurston Dart at King's College, London. Between 1968 and 1978 he worked as a music critic and in 1977 he founded the Campiello Band, later renamed the Michael Nyman Band. ...

27. 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), ...

28. Rachel Portman

Composer | Never Let Me Go

Rachel Portman was born on December 11, 1960 in Haslemere, Surrey, England as Rachel Mary Berkeley Portman. She is known for her work on Never Let Me Go (2010), Chocolat (2000) and Emma (1996). She has been married to Uberto Pasolini since 1995. They have three children.

29. Marc Shaiman

Soundtrack | Smash

A great talent who started his career in Saturday Night Live (1975), where he worked with colleagues like Rob Reiner or Billy Crystal. He worked for some great stage values as Eric Clapton, Rosemary Clooney, Harry Connick Jr., Billy Crystal, Lauryn Hill, Jennifer Holliday, Nathan Lane, Jenifer Lewis...

30. Trevor Jones

Composer | Cliffhanger

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...

31. T Bone Burnett

Soundtrack | The Hunger Games

T Bone Burnett was born on January 14, 1948 in St. Louis, Missouri, USA as Joseph Henry Burnett. He has been married to Callie Khouri since 2006. He was previously married to Sam Phillips.

32. Lisa Gerrard

Soundtrack | Gladiator

Lisa Gerrard was born on April 12, 1961 in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. She is known for her work on Gladiator (2000), Whale Rider (2002) and Balibo (2009).

33. John Powell

Composer | How to Train Your Dragon

John Powell was born on September 18, 1963 in London, England. He is a composer, known for How to Train Your Dragon (2010), Rio (2011) and The Bourne Identity (2002). He was previously married to Melinda Lerner.