Top Notch Music Composers

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1.
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...
 
2.
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)...
 
4.
Henry Jackman
Henry Jackman, born in Hillingdon, Middlesex, UK, began composing his first symphony at age six, and was an accomplished composer by age nine. He went on to study classical music at St. Paul's Cathedral Choir School, Eton College, Framlingham College and Oxford University. As a teenager, he became heavily influenced by the underground rave scene...
 
5.
Graeme Revell
Composer, Sin City
Graeme Revell was born in New Zealand in 1955. He was graduated from The University of Auckland with degrees in economics and politics. He is a classically trained pianist and French horn player. Revell worked for as a regional planner in Australia and Indonesia and as an orderly in an Australian psychiatric hospital...
 
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Sean Callery
Composer, 24
 
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The Crystal Method
Music Department, Bones
 
11.
Mark Isham
Composer, Crash
From his days as one of the pioneering icons of electronic music to his current status as a world-renowned legendary film composer, Mark Isham continues to be one of the most prolific and provocative artists on the scene. His gift for creating unforgettable melodies and his love of fresh, innovative sonic palettes have earned Isham many awards including a Grammy...
 
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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.
 
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Don Davis
Composer, The Matrix
 
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Jamie Christopherson
Whether it be writing evocative orchestral music, recording world instruments on location in exotic places or programming cutting-edge modern synths, multi-award-winning composer Jamie Christopherson has built a reputation for consistently delivering unique, fresh and unexpected scores. He constantly experiments with new ways to create music that gets to the heart of a project...
 
16.
Trevor Rabin
Composer, The Guardian
Trevor Rabin was born in South Africa in 1954. He began playing guitar at the age of 12 after having had piano lessons since he was a toddler. In 1972 he formed the band Rabbit becoming the most successful rock act ever to emerge from South Africa. Rabin left Rabbit to pursue a solo career in London and released three solo albums...
 
17.
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...
 
18.
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)...
 
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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...
 
22.
Bill Brown
Composer, CSI: NY
Bill Brown began his career composing orchestral and electronic scores for game titles including Tom Clancy's 'Rainbow Six' and 'Ghost Recon', Clive Barker's 'Undying', 'Return to Castle Wolfenstein', 'Lineage 2', 'Command and Conquer: Generals' and most recently 'Captain America: Super Soldier'. He recently completed scoring his ninth season of the hit CBS series 'CSI:NY'...
 
23.
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...
 
24.
Michael Kamen
Music Department, Lethal Weapon
 
25.
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...
 
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Trent Reznor
Trent Reznor is an American songwriter/musician/producer and sole member of multi-platinum act Nine Inch Nails, and now an Academy Award winning film composer. He began creating music as a child in Western Pennsylvania, first on piano and then taking up other instruments. He eventually moved to Cleveland...
 
29.
Gary Numan
Gary Numan was born, Gary Anthony James Webb in Hammersmith, London on 8th of March 1958. His first job was working as a dispatch boy with a courier company at Heathrow where his father worked as a bus driver. His first band was Mean Street who only used him because he had a lot of music gear. He later joined The Lasers where he met Paul Gardiner who he later formed Tubeay Army with...
 
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Nick Glennie-Smith
Music Department, The Lion King
 
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Gary Chang
Music Department, The Breakfast Club
 
33.
Craig Armstrong
Composer, Love Actually
Craig Armstrong, born in Glasgow, 1959. Studied composition and piano at the Royal Academy of Music, London from 1977 to 1981. From his base in Glasgow he has written for film, classical commissions and solo recordings. He has composed for Baz Lurhmann's Romeo and Juliet and Moulin Rouge!, The Quiet American...
 
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Carter Burwell
Music Department, Fargo
 
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Basil Poledouris
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 and Randal Kleiser...
 
36.
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...
 
37.
Dick Dale
Soundtrack, Pulp Fiction
Hailed as the "King of Surf Guitar, " Dick Dale virtually galvanized the surf rock sound in the 1950s. An avid surfer and accomplished musician, Dale and his band, 'Dick Dale and the Del-Tones', appeared in several of the ever-popular "Beach Party" teen flicks starring Annette Funicello and Frankie Avalon during the 1960s...
 
38.
Clint Eastwood
Perhaps the icon of macho movie stars, and a living legend, Clint Eastwood has become a standard in international cinema. Born May 31, 1930 in San Francisco, the elder of two children in a middle-class family, Eastwood stayed in high school until the comparatively late age of nineteen and worked menial jobs over a period of several years before enrolling at Los Angeles City College...
 
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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...
 
44.
Joel Goldsmith
Composer, Stargate SG-1
One of six children of the legendary composer Jerry Goldsmith, and the oldest son, Joel Goldsmith's own career in film scoring began in 1978, when he collaborated with Richard Band on the score for Laserblast. Joel Goldsmith next worked as sound mixer for another Band project, The Day Time Ended before receiving his first solo scoring assignment...
 
46.
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...
 
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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...
 
48.
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...
 
49.
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...
 
50.
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...
 
53.
Massive Attack
Music Department, House M.D.
Massive Attack are an English trip hop group formed in 1988 in Bristol, consisting of Robert "3D" Del Naja and Grant "Daddy G" Marshall. The group started as a trio. Andrew Vowles was a founding member, next to Robert Del Naja and Grant Marshall, but decided to leave in 1999 because of the differences of opinion...
 
54.
Mark Snow
Composer, The X-Files
Mark Snow became a good friend with Michael Kamen while they were studying music at New York's Art and Music High School. After graduation, they became roommates at Juilliard (an elite music school). After studying at Juilliard, he became very fond of pop music. He, Michael Kamen and 3 others formed the New York Rock'n'Roll ensemble...
 
55.
Mike Post
Mike Post was born in San Fernando, California. He became a musician for acts as varied as Sammy Davis Jr., Dean Martin, Kenny Rogers, Sonny Bono and Cher, playing guitar on the latter team's 1965 hit "I Got You, Babe". Two years later, Post won his first Grammy award for producing and arranging the Mason Williams track "Classical Gas"...
 
56.
Herman Beeftink
Herman Beeftink, born in the Netherlands, has made an extensive contribution to film and television with his musical compositions since arriving to America in 1982. He began his path towards musical success while attending the Utrecht Conservatory as a student of piano and composition. His development of original jazz methods lead him to become an educator in the Jazz Department from 1978-1982...
 
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Les Claypool
Music Department, Robot Chicken
 
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Al Kaplan
Composer, Zombeavers
 
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Jay Ferguson
Also wrote the theme music to Television shows such as Going to Extremes (1992), Viper (1996), The Office and Women's Murder Club. Got into writing TV theme songs after being asked if there were any of his songs lying around that needed some rock songs that would be used for The Terminator movie.
 
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Eric Serra
Music Department, The Fifth Element
Eric Serra was born on September 9th, 1959 near Paris in France. His mother died when he was only 7 years old. His father, Claude Serra was a well-know songwriter in France in late 50s and 60s. Serra began to learn play the guitar at 11 years old and became a professional musician for Mory Kante;, Didier Lockwood and Michel Murty at 15 years old...
 
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Photek
Music Department, The Italian Job
 
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Rob Lane
Composer, Merlin
 
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Johnny Klimek
Music Department, Cloud Atlas
 
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Reinhold Heil
Music Department, Cloud Atlas
Reinhold Heil is a German-born, L.A.-based Golden Globe nominated film and television composer. Prior to Reinhold's career as a film composer, he was well known throughout Germany and Europe for his monster synth chops. At 21, he became a fixture in the Berlin music scene as the keyboardist of a popular jazz funk fusion band...
 
71.
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...
 
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Brian Adler
Composer, The '60s
 
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Elia Cmiral
Composer, Wrong Turn
Elia Cmiral (pronounced smear-al)'s first break came when his father let him score "Cyrano de Bergerac" at his theater when he was just eighteen years old. But before he could build a career in Czechoslovakia, he escaped to Sweden and, to his surprise, was soon asked to score a full-length battle for the National Theater entitled "Nemesis." Deciding to study film scoring in the United States...
 
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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...
 
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John Carpenter
Writer, Halloween
John Howard Carpenter was born in Carthage, New York, to mother Milton Jean (Carter) and father Howard Ralph Carpenter. His family moved to Bowling Green, Kentucky, where his father, a professor, was head of the music department at Western Kentucky University. He attended Western Kentucky University and then USC film school in Los Angeles...
 
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David Arnold
Music Department, Stargate SG-1
 
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Patrick Doyle
Composer, Brave
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 About Nothing", "Frankenstein" and "Hamlet"...
 
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John Massari
Music Department, 24: Conspiracy
John Massari is a cherished American film composer whose recent works include the world's first virtual reality feature-length film, "Jesus VR: The Story of Christ". The epic emotional score for this film will connect audiences with a historic first-ever, powerful virtual reality experience. This project holds deep, spiritual meaning for Massari...
 
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Tyler Bates
Tyler Bates is a Los Angeles-born composer who has scored more than sixty feature films, hundreds of episodes of television, major studio video games and artist records. Bates has more than twenty commercially released film soundtrack albums, several of which debuted number one at the box-office. Bates' recent work includes Marvel's 2014 smash hit...
 
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Murray Gold
Composer, Doctor Who
Five-time BAFTA nominee Murray Gold has been the composer of Doctor Who since its 2005 re-launch. One of the most inspired and uncompromising composers in his field, Gold composes for theatre, film, and television. In addition to his two BAFTA nominations for Doctor Who, Gold earned BAFTA nominations for Vanity Fair...
 
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Kevin Bassinson
Music Department, Burn Notice
 
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Nathan Whitehead
Nathan Whitehead is best known for the dark, textural scores for the blockbuster film franchise "The Purge." Recently he completed scoring the feature films "Keanu," "The Purge: Election Year," and Akiva Goldsman's "Stephanie." Nathan is originally from Tennessee and makes award-winning cornbread. He lives with his wife in Los Angeles.
 
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Jim Dooley
Composer, Pushing Daisies
Jim Dooley is a graduate of New York University where he majored in Music Composition. Upon completion of his degree, he moved to Los Angeles to study the art of film composing with such prolific scoring legends as Christopher Young, Elmer Bernstein and Leonard Rosenman. He joined Media Ventures (now...
 
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James S. Levine
Composer, Glee
 
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Alex Wurman
Emmy Award-winning composer Alex Wurman is highly versatile with a broad musical palette. He can traverse the film-score landscape by writing a critically-acclaimed score for an Oscar®-winning film, to supporting comedy with musical punctuation for box office giants, to capturing the essence of brainy ideas for indie films...
 
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