Best Film Composers

by ksirnick | created - 12 Nov 2013 | updated - 17 Nov 2013 | Public

In no Particular order…..

1. 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 ...

2. 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 ...

3. 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 ...

4. 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 ...

5. 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 ...

6. John Carpenter

Soundtrack | Escape from New York

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 ...

7. 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,...

8. Vangelis

Composer | Blade Runner

Vangelis is a composer and performer who works almost exclusively with electronic instruments. He is probably most well known for his Chariots of Fire (1981) and Blade Runner (1982) soundtracks or for the tracks used in the Cosmos (1980) television series. He has been involved in many musical ...

9. Miklós Rózsa

Composer | Ben-Hur

A child prodigy, Miklos Rózsa learned to play the violin at the age of five and read music before he was able to read words. In 1926, he began studying at the Leipzig Conservatory where he was considered a brilliant student. He obtained his doctorate in music in 1930. Moving to Paris the following ...

10. Aaron Copland

Soundtrack | He Got Game

Aaron Copland is an Academy Award-winning composer (The Heiress (1949)), author, conductor, lecturer and educator. He was educated at public schools and was a music student of his sister and later Leopold Wolfson, Victor Wittgenstein, Clarence Adler, Rubin Goldmark and Nadia Boulanger. In 1925, he ...

11. 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...

12. 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.

13. 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 ...

14. 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 ...

15. 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, ...

16. Lalo Schifrin

Music_department | Rush Hour

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 (1966), Mannix (1967), Starsky and Hutch (1975), Cool Hand Luke (1967), and Bullitt (1968). Schifrin has ...

17. 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 Karate Kid Part II (1986).

18. 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, ...

19. Mark Isham

Composer | Blade

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, ...

20. 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 ...

21. 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 ...

23. 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...

24. Tangerine Dream

Soundtrack | Legend

The pioneering German collective Tangerine Dream has been delivering their distinctive style of ambient music for nearly three decades, laying down a foundation of sound textures and sonic imagery that has influenced many of today's electronic musicians. Founded in 1967 by fine art aficinado Edgar ...

25. Alexander Courage

Music_department | Jurassic Park

Alexander Courage was born on December 10, 1919 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA as Alexander Mair Courage Jr. He is known for his work on Jurassic Park (1993), X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014) and Star Trek: First Contact (1996). He was married to Shirley Pumpelly. He died on May 15, 2008 in ...

26. 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 ...



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