Best Composers

by IMAlec | created - 31 Jan 2015 | updated - 2 months ago | Public

1. 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 ...

2. John Williams

Soundtrack | Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back

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 ...

3. 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 ...

4. 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 ...

5. Alexandre Desplat

Composer | The King's Speech

Composer and conductor Alexandre Desplat, Oscar winner and seven-time Academy Award nominated, for his prolific filmography and his collaborations with Stephen Frears, Terrence Malick, Ang Lee, Kathryn Bigelow, Jacques Audiard, Wes Anderson, Roman Polanski, George Clooney or Matteo Garrone is one ...

6. 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...

7. Philip Glass

Soundtrack | 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 ...

7. 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 ...

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. 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...

10. 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. ...

12. Howard Shore

Music_department | The Twilight Saga: Eclipse

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 ...

13. 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 ...

14. 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), Bram Stoker's Dracula (1992) and The Ninth Gate (1999). He was married to Barbara Pomianowska. He died on December 29, 2013 in Katowice, Slaskie, Poland.

15. Alex North

Music_department | Spartacus

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 ...

16. Georges Delerue

Composer | Platoon

Georges Delerue was born on March 12, 1925 in Roubaix, Nord, France as Georges Henri Jean-Baptiste Delerue. He was a composer, known for Platoon (1986), Twins (1988) and The Day of the Dolphin (1973). He was married to Micheline Gautron. He died on March 20, 1992 in Los Angeles, California, USA.

17. Joe Hisaishi

Composer | Sen to Chihiro no kamikakushi

Joe Hisaishi was born on December 6, 1950 in Nagano, Japan as Mamoru Fujisawa. He is known for his work on Spirited Away (2001), The Wind Rises (2013) and Porco Rosso (1992).

18. Thomas Newman

Music_department | Skyfall

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) ...

19. 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 ...

20. 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 ...

20. 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 ...

21. 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,...

23. Alan Silvestri

Composer | The Polar Express

In his ongoing, decades-long career as a 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. With a credit list of over 100 films Silvestri has composed some of the most recognizable and ...

24. Clint Mansell

Composer | Black Swan

Clint Mansell was born on January 7, 1963 in Coventry, West Midlands, England. He is a composer, known for Black Swan (2010), The Fountain (2006) and Moon (2009).

24. Alessandro Cicognini

Composer | Ladri di biciclette

Favoured small ensembles rather than large orchestras.

25. Erich Wolfgang Korngold

Composer | The Adventures of Robin Hood

Erich Wolfgang Korngold was the son of a well-known music critic. A child prodigy, he accompanied his father in playing four-handed piano arrangements by the age of five. By the age of eleven he drew his first plaudits from enthusiastic Viennese audiences (including the emperor Franz Josef) with ...

27. Ludovico Einaudi

Composer | This Is England

Ludovico Einaudi was born on November 23, 1955 in Turin, Italy as Ludovico Maria Enrico Einaudi. He is a composer, known for This Is England (2006), The Intouchables (2011) and Under a False Name (2004).

27. 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.

30. 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 ...

31. Leonard Bernstein

Soundtrack | New York Philharmonic Young People's Concerts

Renowned composer ("West Side Story", "Candide", "On The Town"), conductor, arranger, pianist, educator, author, TV/radio host, educated at the Boston Latin School and Harvard University (BA) with Walter Piston. Edward Burlingame Hill and A. Tillman Merritt. He studied piano with Helen Coates, ...

32. Jerry Goldsmith

Composer | L.A. Confidential

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 ...

32. Nicola Piovani

Composer | La vita è bella

Nicola Piovani was born on May 26, 1946 in Rome, Lazio, Italy. He is a composer, known for Life Is Beautiful (1997), The Tiger and the Snow (2005) and Ginger and Fred (1986).

34. Trent Reznor

Soundtrack | The Social Network

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 ...

35. Atticus Ross

Soundtrack | The Social Network

Atticus Ross was born on January 16, 1968 in England. He is married to Claudia Sarne.

35. Carter Burwell

Music_department | Carol

Carter Burwell was born on November 18, 1954 in New York City, New York, USA as Carter Benedict Burwell. He is known for his work on Carol (2015), Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (2017) and The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 1 (2011). He has been married to Christine Sciulli since ...

37. 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 ...

38. Yann Tiersen

Composer | Le fabuleux destin d'Amélie Poulain

Yann Tiersen was born on June 23, 1970 in Brest, Finistère, France. He is a composer, known for Amélie (2001), Good Bye Lenin! (2003) and Inescapable (2012).

39. Klaus Badelt

Composer | Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl

Composer Klaus Badelt started his musical career writing and producing music for dozens of highly successful movies and commercials in his native Germany. In 1998, Oscar-winning composer Hans Zimmer invited him to move his musical home to Media Ventures in Santa Monica, CA. Since then, Klaus has ...

40. Giorgio Moroder

Soundtrack | Top Gun

Giorgio Moroder was born on April 26, 1940 in Urtijëi, Trentino-Alto Adige, Italy as Hansjörg Moroder.

41. 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, ...

42. 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 ...

43. Michel Legrand

Composer | The Thomas Crown Affair

Michel Legrand is a three-time Academy Award-winning French composer, conductor and pianist who composed over 200 film and television scores as well as recorded over a hundred albums of jazz, popular and classical music.

He was born on February 24, 1932, in Becon-les-Bruyeres, in the Paris suburbs, ...

44. 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 ...

45. Nicholas Britell

Composer | Moonlight

Nicholas Britell is a two-time Academy Award-nominated composer, pianist, and producer. His critically acclaimed score for Barry Jenkins' Oscar-winning film Moonlight was nominated for the 2017 Oscar for Best Original Score and was awarded the 2016 Hollywood Music in Media Award for Best Original ...

46. 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. ...

47. 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), Emma (1996) and Chocolat (2000). She has been married to Uberto Pasolini since 1995. They have three children.

48. Éric Demarsan

Composer | L'armée des ombres

Eric Demarsan (sometimes Eric De Marsan) was born on October 2nd, 1938 in Paris.

His father was a businessman and his grandmother a painter and musician.

At 12 he was impressed by a pianist's glissando during a family dinner in a restaurant. From then onwards he took piano lessons.

At about 18, he ...



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