Composers: Best of the best

by johnxisor | created - 17 Mar 2013 | updated - 07 Sep 2014 | Public

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 ...

Best of the best

2. 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 ...

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. 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), ...

The man of tomorrow

5. Max Steiner

Composer | The Treasure of the Sierra Madre

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...

6. Alfred Newman

Composer | All About Eve

Alfred Newman was born on March 17, 1901 in New Haven, Connecticut, USA. He is known for his work on All About Eve (1950), How the West Was Won (1962) and V for Vendetta (2005). He was married to Martha Montgomery and Mary Lou Dix. He died on February 17, 1970 in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California,...

7. Erich Wolfgang Korngold

Composer | The Adventures of Robin Hood

Erich Wolfgang Korngold was the son of a well-known music critic. He was a child prodigy who composed his first orchestral piece at 14 and drew the attention of Richard Strauss, Gustav Mahler and many other prominent composers and conductors. He had begun a promising career as a serious composer of...

8. Miklós Rózsa

Composer | 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 ...

9. Hugo Friedhofer

Composer | The Best Years of Our Lives

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 ...

10. Charles Chaplin

Writer | The Great Dictator

Considered to be one of the most pivotal stars of the early days of Hollywood, Charlie Chaplin 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 ...

Actor, Writer, Producer, Director, Editor, Composer - Playboy - Billionaire - Genius - The real Tony Stark

11. Dimitri Tiomkin

Music_department | High Noon

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 ...

12. Victor Young

Composer | The Quiet Man

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 ...

13. Bronislau Kaper

Composer | Mutiny on the Bounty

Born: February 5, 1902 in Warsaw, Poland Died: April 25, 1983 in Los Angeles, California, USA Kaper displayed musical talent as early as the age of seven when his family acquired a piano. His inclination to music led him to study both piano and composition, while also taking courses in law to ...

14. 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, ...

15. Henry Mancini

Soundtrack | Breakfast at Tiffany's

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 ...

16. Elmer Bernstein

Composer | Far from Heaven

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 ...

17. 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 ...

18. Jerome Moross

Composer | The Big Country

Brooklyn-born composer and orchestrator, who graduated from New York University at the age of eighteen. A child prodigy, he was already an accomplished pianist at the age of five and began composing music three years later. His first serious work ('Paeans') was performed in public when he was ...

19. Franz Waxman

Composer | Sunset Blvd.

Franz Waxman (Wachsmann) pursued his dream of a career in music despite his family's misgivings. He worked for several years as a bank teller and paid for piano, harmony and composition lessons with his salary. He later moved to Berlin, where he continued his study and progress as a musician. He ...

20. Bernard Herrmann

Soundtrack | Taxi Driver

The man behind the low woodwinds that open Citizen Kane (1941), the shrieking violins of Psycho (1960), and the plaintive saxophone of Taxi Driver (1976) 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 ...

21. Wojciech Kilar

Composer | The Pianist

Wojciech Kilar was born on July 17, 1932 in Lwów, Lwowskie, Poland. He was a composer, known for The Pianist (2002), Dracula (1992) and The Ninth Gate (1999). He was married to Barbara Pomianowska. He died on December 29, 2013 in Katowice, Slaskie, Poland.

22. 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...

23. 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 ...

24. 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...

25. Abel Korzeniowski

Composer | A Single Man

Born on the 18th of July, 1972, in Cracow, Poland. In 1996 graduated the instrumental studies (specialization: cello), and then in 2000 graduated with merit from the composition class of Krzysztof Penderecki at the Music Academy in Cracow. At the same Academy, in the years 1999-2000, he was an ...

26. 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 ...

27. Basil Poledouris

Composer | The Hunt for Red October

Basil Poledouris was born on August 21, 1945 in Kansas City. He started taking piano lessons when he was 7 years old. Eventually, he went on to become a student at USC, where he studied the arts of directing, cinematography, editing, sound and, of course, music. It was also at USC he met John Milius...

28. Bill Conti

Composer | For Your Eyes Only

Bill Conti was born on April 13, 1942 in Providence, Rhode Island, USA. He is known for his work on For Your Eyes Only (1981), Rocky (1976) and The Right Stuff (1983).

29. 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 ...

30. Leonard Rosenman

Composer | Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home

Leonard Rosenman was born on September 7, 1924 in Brooklyn, New York City, New York, USA. He is known for his work on Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986), Barry Lyndon (1975) and The Lord of the Rings (1978). He was married to Judie Gregg, Adele Bracker and Kay Scott. He died on March 4, 2008 in ...

31. Laurence Rosenthal

Composer | Clash of the Titans

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 ...

32. John Debney

Music_department | 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...

33. Ernest Gold

Music_department | It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World

Ernest Gold was born on July 13, 1921 in Vienna, Austria as Ernst Siegmund Goldner. He is known for his work on It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World (1963), Exodus (1960) and On the Beach (1959). He was married to Jan Keller and Marni Nixon. He died on March 17, 1999 in Santa Monica, California, USA.

34. James Newton Howard

Composer | King Kong

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, ...

35. David Arnold

Soundtrack | Casino Royale

David Arnold was born on January 23, 1962 in Luton, England. He is known for his work on Casino Royale (2006), Independence Day (1996) and Godzilla (1998). He has been married to Ellie Pole since June 8, 1996. They have three children.

36. 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. ...

37. Gottfried Huppertz

Composer | Metropolis

Gottfried Huppertz was born on March 11, 1887 in Cologne, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany. He was a composer and actor, known for Metropolis (1927), Die Nibelungen: Siegfried (1924) and Die Nibelungen: Kriemhild's Revenge (1924). He died on February 7, 1937 in Berlin, Germany.

38. Martin Böttcher

Composer | Derrick

Böttcher was born 1927 in Berlin/Germany. After the second world war the young Böttcher began as solo guitarist at Nordwestdeutscher Rundfunk. In the year 1955 he wrote the music for his first film Der Hauptmann und sein Held (1955). Already his next movie Teenage Wolfpack (1956), was a great ...

39. Peter Thomas

Music_department | Confessions of a Dangerous Mind

Peter Thomas was born on December 1, 1925 in Breslau, Silesia, Germany. He is known for his work on Confessions of a Dangerous Mind (2002), Flucht nach Berlin (1961) and Die endlose Nacht (1963). He has been married to Cordy Thomas since 1959. They have one child.

40. Paul J. Smith

Composer | Pinocchio

Paul was the son of J.J. Smith, who was a professor at the College of Idaho in Caldwell, Idaho in the early 1900's. It was a very musical family. Father J J composed a number of songs for the College. Paul became music director for Disney. His brother Arthur also became a studio musician and played...

41. 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) ...

42. David Newman

Composer | The Nutty Professor

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...

43. Marco Beltrami

Composer | I, Robot

Marco Beltrami was born on October 7, 1966 in New York City, New York, USA. He is known for his work on I, Robot (2004), World War Z (2013) and The Wolverine (2013).