Top Film Composers

by umszaidi | created - 04 Feb 2013 | updated - 19 May 2014 | Public

My favourite film composers

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. 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. 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 ...

4. 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 ...

5. 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 ...

6. 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 ...

7. 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 ...

8. 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 ...

9. 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), ...

10. Alan Silvestri

Composer | The Polar Express

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 ...

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. 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 ...

13. 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...

14. 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 ...

15. 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.

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. 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, ...

18. 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) ...

19. 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 ...

20. 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,...

21. 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 ...

22. 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 ...

23. 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 ...

24. 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 ...

25. Carl W. Stalling

Soundtrack | Super 8

Carl Stalling is the most famous unknown composer of the 20th century, almost solely based on his work composing musical scores for animated cartoons. Stalling's first work in music was as house organist in Newman Theatre in Kansas City, where he would accompany the latest silent film with his ...

26. 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...

27. 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, ...

28. Michael Kamen

Soundtrack | Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves

Michael Kamen was born on April 15, 1948 in New York City, New York, USA as Michael Arnold Kamen. He was married to Sandra Keenan. He died on November 18, 2003 in London, England.

29. 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.

30. 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...

31. 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), Kaze tachinu (2013) and Ponyo (2008).

32. Harry Gregson-Williams

Composer | The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian

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: ...

33. John Ottman

Composer | Valkyrie

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...

34. Carter Burwell

Composer | 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), True Grit (2010) and Fargo (1996). He has been married to Christine Sciulli since 1999.

35. Alan Menken

Soundtrack | Beauty and the Beast

New York-songwriter and film composer, Alan Menken is best known for his unforgettable music for Disney movies like Calypso music of The Little Mermaid (1989), the tale as old as time of Beauty and the Beast (1991), the Arabian tale Aladdin (1992) or the beloved song Colors of the Wind from ...

36. 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).

37. 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 ...

38. David Holmes

Composer | Ocean's Eleven

David Holmes was born in Belfast the youngest of 10 children. David collected vinyl throughout his teenage years and became a club DJ at the age of 15. David's taste of music as a teenager was very eclectic, ranging from Motown R&B, Latin jazz, punk rock, film scores, and disco. During these years ...

39. Robert Rodriguez

Producer | El mariachi

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 (1981), none ...

40. John Murphy

Composer | Sunshine

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 ...