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Composers - Film Music

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My personal favorites being Jerry Goldsmith, whos 'Opening Title' music for 'Chinatown' sends a shiver down my spine every time I hear it.


Elmer Bernstein. Imagine 'The Magnificent Seven' without the music. There would be no movie !


Randy Newman. His soundtrack for 'The Natural' is a masterpiece. I believe (if I remember rightly) that Newman said that he didn't compose 'Hero Music', but his music for 'The Natural' was heroic stuff !


Hans Zimmer. An amazingly prolific and consistantly excellent composer. The hardest working man in show business (after James Brown). Zimmer's music tends to remind me of Philip Glass, I guess there was some influence there.


There are many other great movie music composers, and I hope you TCM posters will contribute to this thread and give them credit.



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This is a great subject. In my dream world this would be my job. I have great respect for people who can write music but also write to a subject and a time frame. I often wish composers would develop a "suite" from the film music for concert or a more formal recording style.


Great choices. My personal favorite is John Barry. Not so much for the Bond films but for beautiful scores of "Out Of Africa", "Dances With Wolves", etc.


Korngold and Rosza were great also.

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I always have soundtracks playing on the mp3 player in my car. As an editor, I am always looking for good music to cut to.


Some of my favorites:


Jerry Goldsmith: Love Chinatown, LA Confidential, Under Fire may be his most under-rated score.


Thomas Newman: Road to Peredition and Angels in America and Shawshank Redemption


Elmer Bernstein: Mockingbird, Magnificent Seven


Hans Zimmer: Gladiator and Thin Red Line


Brian Keane: (does stuff for Ric Burns and HBO docs) O'Neill, New York, Sports Photography, Babe Ruth


Ennio Morricone: The Good, Bad and the Ugly, Once Upon a Time in the West, OUT in America, The Mission, Untouchables, Cinema Paradiso


Basil Poladorius: "Conan the Barbarian", "Lonesome Dove", Quigley Down Under


Old school, I love Steiner's score for "Now Voyager" and "Kings Row"


Korngold's "Robin Hood" and "Sea Hawk"


These are the ones off the top of my head. I have more.

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Max Steiner: as a youth, he studied under Johannes Brahms and Gustav Mahler. After some time working on Broadway, he came to Hollywood to arrange the score for RKO's Rio Rita and wrote the score for Cimarron. King Kong's impressive score solidified Mr. Steiner's reputation; portions of this 1933 score were revived for the 2005 remake. He brought the leitmotif to movies, lending themes identifiable to specific characters or places. Each major character in Gone With the Wind has his/her own musical theme. Mr. Steiner's aural icons include "Tara's Theme" and the title piece to A Summer Place; the latter which seems to define a time as well as a movie.


His relationship with the golden boy, Oscar, was long-term and enthusiastic:


Academy Awards


The Informer (1935)

Now, Voyager (1942)

Since You Went Away (1944)


Academy Award Nominations


The Gay Divorcee (1934)

The Lost Patrol (1934)

The Garden of Allah (1936)

The Life of Emile Zola (1937)

Jezebel (1938)

Dark Victory (1939)

Gone with the Wind (1939)

The Letter (1940)

Sergeant York (1941)

Casablanca (1943)

The Adventures of Mark Twain (1944)

Rhapsody in Blue [shared with Ray Heindorf] (1945)

Night and Day [shared with Ray Heindorf] (1946)

Life with Father (1947)

My Wild Irish Rose [shared with Ray Heindorf] (1947)

Johnny Belinda (1948)

Beyond the Forest (1949)

The Flame and the Arrow (1950)

Miracle of Fatima (1952)

The Jazz Singer [shared with Ray Heindorf] (1952)

The Caine Mutiny (1954)

Battle Cry (1955)

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John Barry is very good for the ones you mentioned and others.


Other good ones are,Marvin Hamlisch,John Williams,Enrico Morricone,Henry Mancini (who doesn't love "Moonriver?), Burt Bacharach, I know there are more.


I'll come back later, I can't remember right now.

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> Max Steiner: as a youth, he studied under

> Johannes Brahms and Gustav Mahler.


No wonder he was so good. If you can't learn anything from those two then you don't belong in that profession.


Speaking of classical composers I like Aaron Copland as well. He seemed to adapt to movies well. Several of his film scores have remained in the concert world.


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I love Leonard Bernstein's moody music for "On the Waterfront."


The American composer Virgil Thompson did several film scores - I can remember only "Louisiana Story" and "The Plow that Broke the Plains" right now, but there were others. The music is in the Copland vein.

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Elmer Bernstein for Western, even thought Jerome Moross's score for " The Big Country " is hard to beat. Hageman and Victor Young did a lot of great work on Westerns.


Copland was fantastic for " Of Mice and Men ", and "The Red Pony "/ Rosza for noirs and Ben - Hur, and Bernard Herrman for countless films.

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Nino Rota was a composer of opera and ballet, but is best known as the man who scored so many of Federico Fellini's movies. Maestro Arturo Toscanini urged him go to Philadelphia to study under Fritz Reiner at the Curtis Institute, and so Sr. Rota headed to America in the early 1930's. After two years in the U.S., he returned to Italy, and audiences first took note of his film scores when he wrote the music for Renato Castellani's Zaz?. He continued with a prolific career, working for Edward Dmytryk (Obsession), Edgar Ulmer (I Pirati di Capri), in addition to many popular Italian directors. In 1947 and 1948 Maestro Fellini wrote for two of Alberto Lattuada's movies which Sr. Rota scored. A few years later Fellini would hire Rota to write the score for his second feature, a comedy called Lo Sciecco Biancho (which was screened on TCM in September, 2006). This musical marriage lasted until the end of Rota's life in 1979, as he scored every Fellini movie between 1952 and 1979. His scores ranged from the heartbreaking trumpet strains of La Strada to the sweet nostalgia of Amarcord and the crass circus music of I Clowns. Though Fellini kept Rota busy, he also wrote scores of others: Visconti's aching romance Le Notte Bianchi and sweeping epic Il Gattopardo; Zefferelli's Romeo and Juliette (where his score was reborn as the lounge lizard's hit "A Time for Us") and winning an Oscar for Coppola's The Godfather II. He also had a knack for incorporating popular music with his scores. In La Dolce Vita Rota would intertwine his own notes with Arlen's "Stormy Weather", Perez Prado's "Patricia" and even "Jingle Bells". In 8 1/2 he creates a musical cioppino with Rossini and Wagner. Bravo Rota!

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A particular favorite of mine is the John Barry score for the movie 'Zulu'. Unfortunately the available soundtrack CD's don't include the beautiful Zulu brides song and the Zulu warriors chant from the beginning of the movie. I went ahead and recorded the Zulu songs from the DVD and burned them, along with John Barry's music, onto a new CD. Now it's perfect.


Sometimes, if you want something done right, you just have to damn well do it yourself.


Best Wishes


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I don't know if it's because most of his work is from the 70's on, but nobody seems to have mentioned John Williams. From themes for Superman, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Schindler's List, Home Alone and many others to the Star Wars original trilogy, he has created some fantastic sound tracks. His Olympic Fanfare is synonymous with the Games. (cinemabuff64 did mention his name, but little else.)


I'm not as technically savvy as the majority of posters on these boards, but I do know I like John Williams' style.



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  • 3 weeks later...

Bernard Herrmann- The son of Russian immigrants, he was born in New York City in 1911. Herrmann was a child prodigy and by the time he was in his teens had already composed chamber works as well as The Forest and November Dusk, two tone poems for orchestra. He went to Juilliard and studied under Percy Grainger at New York University. At age 20, he founded The New Chamber Orchestra of New York. In 1934 Johnny Green hired him to conduct, arrange and score background music for radio programs at CBS, which led to his work with the "Mercury Theatre on the Air" -- Orson Welles' radio program. Have you heard the radio broadcast of War of the Worlds? Throughout this show, a dance orchestra is interrupted with updates regarding the invaders from outer space. Herrmann was conducting that dance band.


In 1939, Welles left for Hollywood and he brought Herrmann with him to write the score for Citizen Kane. This spectacular score covers the gamut of musical effects, from the raucous dance hall gals singing the burlesque "What Is His Name? It's Charlie Kane!", to the sublime and nostalgic theme of a childhood that is snatched from Charles Foster Kane (this theme is used in TCM's 100 Years of Cinema, that is often played between movies), to the exotica of the Thais-like grand opera "Salammbo" that Susan Alexander Kane is forced to sing. For an example of his subtle power in creating mood, listen to the breakfast scenes between Kane and his first wife. When the newspaper colleagues first see Mr. Kane with his bride to be, we're introduced to a lovely waltz that represents Emily. The breakfast scene opens with a languid version of this waltz of young love as it melds into the mocking winds that fortell the beginning of trouble to the marriage, then to bickering muted brass battling a scherzo of flutes, then to a foreboding minor key, and finally to the legato lines of violins that underscore the silence of the aliented couple (we'll be reminded of these strings years later in Psycho). The dialogue of this scene of marital disintegration is clever and telling, but it's the icing on the cake: Herrmann's music paired with the visual composition are enough to tell the entire story.


He won an Oscar for his next score, The Devil and Daniel Webster and soon after completed the score for Welles' Magnificent Ambersons. As the studio severely recut Welles' work, they also cut Herrmann's score; so much so he demanded that RKO remove his name from the credits.


In The Day the Earth Stood Still he brilliantly juxtaposed frantic piano work with an urgent wail of the theremin. The next year he wrote the score for the noir classic On Dangerous Ground; the thrilling music that accompanies the opening credits gives us a glimpse of his future work with Alfred Hitchcock. This partnership began with The Trouble with Harry, and flourished with (among others) Vertigo, North by Northwest and Psycho. The latter is probably his best remembered score; the slashing strings became a sonic icon of horror.


He continued writing film scores into the 1970's. Hitchcock fan, Brian DePalma, got him to write the scores to his Sisters and Obsession and hired him for Carrie. Unfortunately, Mr. Herrmann died before Carrie could be started. His score for Scorsese's Taxi Driver would be his last.


Throughout his career, Mr. Herrmann continued to write concert work; sometimes bringing his cinematic themes to the concert hall (The Devil and Daniel Webster Suite), but just as often creating entirely new works. I await a full recording of his opera Wuthering Heights, which was finished in 1951. It wasn't staged until 1982. If you're curious about it, you can hear Cathy's gorgeous aria "I Have Dreamt" on Renee Fleming's album, I Want Magic!.


Though Herrmann died in December of 1975, his work lives on. Martin Scorsese had Elmer Bernstein rework Herrmann's cues from the original Cape Fear for his remake. Tim Burton's favored composer, Danny Elfman cites Herrmann as his greatest influence. Thanks to TCM for keeping his film work alive.

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Right you are, Mr. Sage. Just as "News on the March" used stock footage to tell the life of Charles Foster Kane, the newsreel also used stock scoring by Anthony Collins, Nathaniel Shilkret, Max Steiner, Frank Tours, and Roy Webb, in addition to that of Mr. Newman. I assume Mr. Herrmann had his hand in choosing the the soundtrack pieces to fit the newsreel, yes? I'll reword my phrase to indicate the breadth of his work in Kane...

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  • 2 weeks later...

The following was culled from The New York Times obituary:


Sir Malcolm Arnold just passed away at the age of 84 on Saturday, September 23, 2006. He was one of the best-known British composers of the 20th century, having written nine symphonies and composed 132 film scores, including the Oscar winning soundtrack to The Bridge on the River Kwai.

He lived in Attleborough, Great Britain.


His music is deliberately tonal, melodic and sometimes witty. He wrote it at a remarkable rate: at the height of his powers he composed six film scores a year in addition to other instrumental works, and he was said to have written Bridge on the River Kwai in a matter of days (6 or 10, depending on the source).

He is associated with the English musical tradition of Elgar and Holst, yet his brand of tonality was already unfashionable when he was writing it.


His association with supposedly lighter forms of music also rendered him suspect to the classical establishment in his lifetime. His soundtracks included Hobson?s Choice, Inn of the Sixth Happiness and Whistle Down the Wind, and he reproved himself for turning down Lawrence of Arabia.


He wrote humorous pieces like ?A Grand, Grand Overture,? which featured three vacuum cleaners and a floor polisher, and made gestures unconventional at the time, like working African and West Indian percussion instruments into his Fourth Symphony in sympathetic reaction to the 1958 race riots in the Notting Hill section of London. In 1969 he conducted the Concerto for Group and Orchestra, which Jon Lord wrote for his band, Deep Purple. None of this helped him gain acceptance in the classical mainstream, though as a crossover artist he was ahead of his time.


He was also known as a ?difficult man,? words that reflected a life of extremes: a diagnosis of schizophrenia in his early 20?s; heavy living, heavy drinking; and mental breakdowns so devastating he was institutionalized several times and had a range of treatments that may or may not have included a lobotomy.

Malcolm Arnold was born in Northampton, England. He began studying composition as a child, but his first musical love was the trumpet, which he took up after hearing Louis Armstrong play when he was 12. He played so well that he began appearing with professional orchestras while still a student at the Royal College of Music.


He volunteered for military service in 1944 but hated it so much that he shot himself in the foot to get out of it, returning to civilian life and the first trumpet chair of the London Philharmonic. In 1948 he won the Mendelssohn Scholarship, which gave him the impetus to compose full time. He wrote his first symphony in 1949.


Sir Malcolm?s first marriage, to Sheila Nicholson in 1941, foundered in part as a result of the death of an infant daughter; his second, to Isobel Gray in the 1960?s, produced an autistic son and ended with a court order forbidding the increasingly dangerous, and alcoholic, composer to have any contact with wife or child. In the 1970?s and 80?s, there were suicide attempts, hospital stays and a range of treatments and therapies, and his musical output fell to nearly nothing.


In 1984, Sir Malcolm was deemed unfit to live alone and placed by court order in the care of Anthony Day, who remained his full-time caregiver and personal assistant for the rest of his life. The Ninth Symphony, finished in 1986, is dedicated to Mr. Day, but Sir Malcolm virtually ceased composing in the 1990?s. He was knighted in 1993.

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  • 2 weeks later...

My favorite film score composers are Bernard Herrmann, John Barry and Henry Mancini. Of Herrmann's oeuvre, the hauntingly lovely theme from THE GHOST AND MRS. MUIR certainly deserves mention. One of my favorites by Barry is from THE TAMARIND SEED and by Mancini it would have to be THE THORN BIRDS.


Another composer that hasn't been mentioned is David Raksin. Who can forget LAURA?


Miss G

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  • 2 months later...

From today's Associated Press:


"Ennio Morricone, the prolific film composer who created music for more than 300 films, such as the memorable coyote-howl theme from The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, is finally getting an Oscar. Morricone, who has been nominated for five Academy Awards but never won, will receive an honorary Oscar at the February 25, 2007 awards.


'I certainly did not expect anything of the sort, by now with great tranquillity and peace of mind I had given up on this,' he told Italy's Sky TG24 TV. 'This is a great, very important recognition, which I deem of great value.'


Morricone had original score nominations for Days of Heaven, The Mission, The Untouchables, Bugsy and Malena.


In announcing the award Wednesday, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences cited the Italian composer's 'magnificent and multifaceted contributions to the art of film music.'


Morricone, 78, composed for many of director Sergio Leone's spaghetti westerns as well as a range of other genres, including Cinema Paradiso, La Cage Aux Folles and Bulworth.

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  • 4 weeks later...

It is Max Steiner who is my all time favorite composer of motion pictures.

Listed below is a list of his Oscar nominations and wins (at one point he was nominated for 13 consecutive years)



1956 Nominated Oscar Best Music, Scoring of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture

for: "Battle Cry" (1955)


1955 Nominated Oscar Best Music, Scoring of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture

for: "The Caine Mutiny" (1954)


1953 Nominated Oscar Best Music, Scoring of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture

for: "The Miracle of Our Lady of Fatima" (1952)


Best Music, Scoring of a Musical Picture

for: "The Jazz Singer" (1952)

Shared with:

Ray Heindorf


1951 Nominated Oscar Best Music, Scoring of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture

for: "The Flame and the Arrow" (1950)


1950 Nominated Oscar Best Music, Scoring of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture

for: "Beyond the Forest" (1949)


1949 Nominated Oscar Best Music, Scoring of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture

for: "Johnny Belinda" (1948)


1948 Nominated Oscar Best Music, Scoring of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture

for: "Life with Father" (1947)


Best Music, Scoring of a Musical Picture

for: "My Wild Irish Rose" (1947)

Shared with:

Ray Heindorf


1947 Nominated Oscar Best Music, Scoring of a Musical Picture

for: "Night and Day" (1946)Shared with:

Ray Heindorf


1946 Nominated Oscar Best Music, Scoring of a Musical Picture

for: "Rhapsody in Blue" (1945)

Shared with:

Ray Heindorf


1945 Won Oscar Best Music, Scoring of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture

for: "Since You Went Away" (1944)


Nominated Oscar Best Music, Scoring of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture

for: "The Adventures of Mark Twain" (1944)


1944 Nominated Oscar Best Music, Scoring of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture

for: "Casablanca" (1942)


1943 Won Oscar Best Music, Scoring of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture

for: "Now, Voyager" (1942)


1942 Nominated Oscar Best Music, Scoring of a Dramatic Picture

for: "Sergeant York" (1941)


1941 Nominated Oscar Best Music, Original Score

for: "The Letter" (1940)


1940 Nominated Oscar Best Music, Original Score

for: "Dark Victory" (1939)


Best Music, Original Score

for: "Gone with the Wind" (1939)


1939 Nominated Oscar Best Music, Scoring

for: "Jezebel" (1938)


1937 Nominated Oscar Best Music, Score

for: "The Garden of Allah" (1936)Score by Max Steiner.


1936 Won Oscar Best Music, Score

for: "The Informer" (1935)Score by Max Steiner.


1935 Nominated Oscar Best Music, Score

for: "The Gay Divorcee" (1934)

Score by Kenneth S. Webb and Samuel Hoffenstein.


Best Music, Score

for: "The Lost Patrol" (1934)Score by Max Steiner.


He should have won for "Gone With the Wind" and it's too bad that there wasn't a tie with "The Wizard of Oz" which was the actual winner.

He also should have been nominated for "The Treasure of the Sierra Madre".

Thank goodness his music lives on in films.

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You have excellent taste. I can't think of three better composers especially Herrmann. His music contributed greatly to the moods the Welles and Hitchcok films he scored. "Taxi Driver" seemed like such an appropriate exit for him.


Of the more contemporary composers I like Thomas Newman.

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