Top Film Composers

My favourite film composers
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1.
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)...
 
2.
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...
 
4.
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...
 
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.
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...
 
7.
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...
 
8.
Henry Mancini
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...
 
10.
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...
 
12.
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...
 
13.
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...
 
14.
Bernard Herrmann
Music Department, Citizen Kane
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...
 
15.
Randy Newman
Music Department, Toy Story 3
 
16.
Lalo Schifrin
Music Department, Mission: Impossible
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, Mannix, Starsky and Hutch, Cool Hand Luke, and Bullitt. Schifrin has regularly worked alongside Clint Eastwood...
 
17.
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...
 
18.
Thomas Newman
Music Department, WALL·E
 
19.
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...
 
20.
Alfred Newman
Music Department, The King and I
 
21.
Charles Chaplin
Writer, Modern Times
Charlie Chaplin, considered to be one of the most pivotal stars of the early days of Hollywood, lived an interesting life both in his films and behind the camera. He is most recognized as an icon of the silent film era, often associated with his popular character, the Little Tramp; the man with the toothbrush mustache, bowler hat, bamboo cane, and a funny walk...
 
22.
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...
 
23.
Alex North
Music Department, Goodfellas
Alex North studied music at the Curtis Institute of Philadelphia, then won a scholarship to Juilliard in New York (1929) and the Moscow Conservatoire (1933), making him the first-ever American to become a member of the Union of Soviet Composers. In Europe, he worked as music director for the Latvian State Theatre...
 
24.
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...
 
25.
Carl W. Stalling
Music Department, Gremlins 2: The New Batch
Carl Stalling is the most famous unknown composer of the 20th century, almost solely based on his work composing musical scores for animated cartoons. Stalling's first work in music was as house organist in Newman Theatre in Kansas City, where he would accompany the latest silent film with his organ playing...
 
26.
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...
 
27.
James Newton Howard
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 in 1985. He has been nominated for eight Academy Awards. He currently is a songwriter, record producer, conductor, keyboardist, and film composer.
 
28.
Michael Kamen
Music Department, Lethal Weapon
 
30.
John Debney
Composer, 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 and began guitar lessons at age six...
 
31.
 
32.
Harry Gregson-Williams
Composer, Shrek
Harry Gregson-Williams is a composer. He was the composer on all four installments of the blockbuster Shrek franchise; garnered a BAFTA nomination for the score for the first Shrek; and received Golden Globe and Grammy Award nominations for his score to Andrew Adamson's The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion...
 
33.
John Ottman
John Ottman holds dual distinctions as a leading film composer and an award winning film editor. Ottman has often completed both monumental tasks on the same films. Such remarkable double duties have included The Usual Suspects, X-Men 2, Superman Returns, Valkyrie, and Jack the Giant Killer. He has also held producer roles on several of these films...
 
34.
Carter Burwell
Music Department, Fargo
 
35.
Alan Menken
Music Department, Beauty and the Beast
Alan Menken born on July 22, 1949 in New Rochelle, New York, USA as Alan Irwin Menken. Composer, Actor and Artist, he is famous to working with the legendary Disney Studios since 1987. begun his career as a Composer in 1971 be composing for New York City Ballet and Jingles. He also works many works in the Cinema including as a Actor...
 
36.
Bill Conti
Music Department, Falcon Crest
 
37.
Brad Fiedel
Music Department, True Lies
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 low-budget pictures as The Astrologer...
 
38.
David Holmes
Composer, Ocean's Eleven
David Holmes was born in Belfast the youngest of 10 children. David collected vinyl throughout his teenage years and became a club DJ at the age of 15. David's taste of music as a teenager was very eclectic, ranging from Motown R&B, Latin jazz, punk rock, film scores, and disco. During these years he worked as a fanzine writer...
 
39.
Robert Rodriguez
Producer, Grindhouse
Robert Anthony Rodriguez was born and raised in San Antonio, Texas, USA, to Rebecca (Villegas), a nurse, and Cecilio G. Rodríguez, a salesman. His family is of Mexican descent. Of all the people to be amazed by the images of John Carpenter's 1981 sci-fi parable, Escape from New York, none were as captivated as the 12-year-old Rodriguez...
 
40.
John Murphy
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 been based in Los Angeles...