Top 20 Film Music Composers Alive

by Ab Siddique | created - 07 Feb 2011 | updated - 28 Mar 2011 | 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 ...

2. 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, ...

3. 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 ...

4. A.R. Rahman

Composer | Slumdog Millionaire

A two-time winner and five-times nominee of the Academy Award (Oscar), A. R. Rahman is popularly known as the man who has redefined contemporary Indian music. Rahman, according to a BBC estimate, has sold more than 150 million copies of his work comprising of music from more than 100 film ...

5. 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.

6. Ryuichi Sakamoto

Soundtrack | The Revenant

Ryuichi Sakamoto was born on January 17, 1952 in Tokyo, Japan. He was previously married to Akiko Yano.

7. 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 ...

8. 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 ...

9. 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 ...

10. 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), ...

11. Alexandre Desplat

Composer | The King's Speech

Alexandre Desplat was born on August 23, 1961 in Paris, Île-de-France, France as Alexandre Michel Gerard Desplat. He is known for his work on The King's Speech (2010), Argo (2012) and The Queen (2006).

12. 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 ...

13. 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) ...

14. Dun Tan

Composer | Wo hu cang long

Dun Tan was born on August 18, 1957 in Si Mao, Hunan Province, China. He is known for his work on Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000), Ying xiong (2002) and Fallen (1998).

15. Jan A.P. Kaczmarek

Composer | Finding Neverland

Jan A. P. Kaczmarek is a composer with a tremendous international reputation that continues to grow. As a successful recording artist and touring musician, Jan turned to composing film scores as his primary occupation. Jan's first success in the United States came in theater. After composing ...

16. John Powell

Composer | How to Train Your Dragon

John Powell was born on September 18, 1963 in London, England. He is a composer, known for How to Train Your Dragon (2010), Rio (2011) and The Bourne Identity (2002). He was previously married to Melinda Lerner.

17. 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 ...

18. Ravi Shankar

Composer | Gandhi

Ravi Shankar was a world-renowned musician, composer, performer, and scholar of classical Indian music. He was one of the leading cultural figures of the twentieth century whose accomplishments placed him as the leading figure of an important musical tradition. His long and distinguished musical ...

19. 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, ...

20. 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 ...