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Composers You Should Know: Film

Lists, facts, dates, links, and more, organized by time period

Notable Film Music Composers

If you wish to be generally familiar with film music, here is a short list of composers you should know. Also try some reference books like Contemporary Musicians or books with a call number starting with ML 2075.

Name

Birth

Death

Nationality

Representative Pieces

Bernstein, Elmer

1922 2004 American The Magnificent Seven, The Ten Commandments, Airplane!, Cape Fear (1991), Ghostbusters, Three Amigos, Thoroughly Modern Millie

Elfman, Danny

1953   American Beetlejuice, Batman, The Simpsons, Men in Black, Sleepy Hollow, The Nightmare Before Christmas, Big Fish, Spider-Man

Goldsmith, Jerry

1929 2004 American The Omen (1976), Star Trek, Gremlins, Planet of the Apes, Chinatown, Alien, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., Mulan, The Mummy, Total Recall

Herrmann, Bernard

1911 1975 American Citizen Kane, Psycho, Vertigo, The Birds, The Devil and Daniel Webster, The Day the Earth Stood Still, Taxi Driver, Cape Fear

Horner, James

1953 2015 American Aliens, Braveheart, Titanic, Glory, A Beautiful Mind, Avatar, Troy, Flightplan, Patriot Games, Field of Dreams, The Missing

Howard, James Newton

1951   American Unbreakable, The Fugitive, The Sixth Sense, King Kong (2005), ER, The Dark Knight & Batman Begins (with Hans Zimmer)

Ifukube, Akira

1914

2006

Japanese

Godzilla (1954) and many sequels, Destroy All Monsters, The Burmese Harp

Jarre, Maurice

1924 2009 French Lawrence of Arabia, Doctor Zhivago, A Passage to India, Witness, Ghost, Dead Poets Society, Fatal Attraction

Mancini, Henry
 ML410 .M2715

1924 1994 American The Pink Panther, Moon River, Peter Gunn, Hatari!, The Glass Menagerie, The Party

Morricone, Ennio

1928   Italian Once Upon a Time in the West, A Fistful of Dollars, The Untouchables, The Mission, The Good The Bad and The Ugly

Newman, Thomas

1955   American WALL-E, The Shawshank Redemption, Finding Nemo, Real Genius, American Beauty, The Lost Boys, Little Women

Poledouris, Basil

1945 2006 American Conan the Barbarian, The Hunt for Red October, RoboCop, Free Willy, Starship Troopers, Lonesome Dove, Red Dawn

Rota, Nino

1911 1979 Italian The Godfather, Romeo & Juliet, La dolce vita, other Fellini films

Rózsa, Miklós

1907 1995 Hungarian-American Ben-Hur, Spellbound, A Double Life, Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid

Schifrin, Lalo
 ML410 .S2575

1932   Argentine Mission Impossible, The Amityville Horror, Rush Hour, Dirty Harry

Shore, Howard

1946   Canadian The Lord of the Rings, Silence of the Lambs, Mrs. Doubtfire, Big, The Fly, The Aviator, The Last Mimzy

Silvestri, Alan

1950

 

American

Beowulf, Forrest Gump, Back to the Future, The Polar Express, Van Helsing, Cast Away, The Avengers, Predator

Steiner, Max

1888 1971 Austrian-American King Kong (1933), Casablanca, The Caine Mutiny, The Informer, Gone with the Wind

Tiomkin, Dimitri

1894 1979 Russian High Noon, It's a Wonderful Life, The Bridge of San Luis Rey, The Unforgiven, Town Without Pity, The Guns of Navarone

Vangelis

1943   Greek Blade Runner, Chariots of Fire, 1492: Conquest of Paradise, Alexander, Antarctica

Waxman, Franz

1906 1967 German-American Taras Bulba, Rear Window, Suspicion, Rebecca, Bride of Frankenstein, Sunset Boulevard, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1941)

Williams, John

1932   American Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Jurassic Park, Jaws, Schindler's List, Superman, E.T., Catch Me if You Can, Memoirs of a Geisha

Zimmer, Hans

1957   German Inception, Batman Begins, Pirates of the Caribbean, Black Hawk Down, The Lone Ranger (2013), Madagascar, Sherlock Holmes (2009)

Film Music Composers

If you wish to be generally familiar with film music, here is a short list of composers you should know. Also try some reference books like Contemporary Musicians or books with a call number starting with ML 2075.

Name

Birth

Death

Nationality

Representative Pieces

Barry, John

1933 2011 English The Lion in Winter, Born Free, Dances with Wolves, James Bond movies, Out of Africa, The Game of Death

Bernstein, Elmer

1922 2004 American The Magnificent Seven, The Ten Commandments, Airplane!, Cape Fear (1991), Ghostbusters, Three Amigos, Thoroughly Modern Millie

Broughton, Bruce

1945   American Tombstone, Lost in Space, So I Married an Axe Murderer, Miracle on 34th Street (1994)

Burwell, Carter

1955   Americna

Fargo, True Grit (2010), Being John Malkovich, Twilight, The Rookie, No Country for Old Men, The Big Lebowski

Conti, Bill

1942   American Rocky, The Right Stuff, For Your Eyes Only, The Karate Kid, Private Benjamin

Desplat, Alexandre

1961   French The King's Speech, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Fantasic Mr. Fox, Argo, The Queen, Zero Dark Thirty

Doyle, Patrick

1953   American Henry V, Shipwrecked, Sense & Sensibility, Hamlet, Thor, Brave, Frankenstein (1994), Dead Again, Bridget Jones's Diary

Elfman, Danny

1953   American Beetlejuice, Batman, The Simpsons, Men in Black, Sleepy Hollow, The Nightmare Before Christmas, Big Fish, Spider-Man

Friedhofer, Hugo

1901 1981 American Casablanca, The Sun Also Rises (1957), An Affair to Remember, The Best Years of our Lives

Giacchino, Michael

1967   American Lost, Up, Star Trek (2009), Ratatouille, The Incredibles

Goldsmith, Jerry

1929 2004 American The Omen (1976), Star Trek, Gremlins, Planet of the Apes, Chinatown, Alien, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., Mulan, The Mummy, Total Recall

Goodwin, Ron

1925 2003 British Frenzy, Where Eagles Dare, Battle of Britain, Force 10 from Navarone, Those Magnificent Men in their Flying Machines

Gregson-Williams, Harry

1961   British Shrek, Kingdom of the Sun, The Chronicles of Narnia, Spy Game, Man on Fire, Chicken Run

Hamlisch, Marvin

1944   American The Way We Were, Ice Castles, The Sting, A Streetcar Named Desire, The Spy Who Loved Me, The Mirror Has Two Faces

Herrmann, Bernard

1911 1975 American Citizen Kane, Psycho, Vertigo, The Birds, The Devil and Daniel Webster, The Day the Earth Stood Still, Taxi Driver, Cape Fear

Hisaishi, Joe

1950   Japanese Spirited Away, Ponyo, Departures, Princess Mononoke

Horner, James

1953 2015 American Aliens, Braveheart, Titanic, Glory, A Beautiful Mind, Avatar, Troy, Flightplan, Patriot Games, Field of Dreams, The Missing

Howard, James Newton

1951   American Unbreakable, The Fugitive, The Sixth Sense, King Kong (2005), ER, The Dark Knight & Batman Begins (with Hans Zimmer)

Ifukube, Akira

1914

2006

Japanese

Godzilla (1954) and many sequels, Destroy All Monsters, The Burmese Harp

Jarre, Maurice

1924 2009 French Lawrence of Arabia, Doctor Zhivago, A Passage to India, Witness, Ghost, Dead Poets Society, Fatal Attraction

Kaczmarek, Jan A.P.

1953   Polish Finding Neverland, The Visitor, The Karamazov Brothers

Kamen, Michael

1948 2003 American Mr. Holland's Opus, Band of Brothers, Lethal Weapon, X-Men, Die Hard, The Iron Giant, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves

Korngold, Erich Wolfgang

1897 1957 Czech-American The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938), Captain Blood

Mancini, Henry
 ML410 .M2715

1924 1994 American The Pink Panther, Moon River, Peter Gunn, Hatari!, The Glass Menagerie, The Party

Morricone, Ennio

1928   Italian Once Upon a Time in the West, A Fistful of Dollars, The Untouchables, The Mission, The Good The Bad and The Ugly

Morris, John

1926   American Young Frankenstein, Blazing Saddles, The Elephant Man (1980), Clue, Spaceballs, Johnny Dangerously

Newman, Alfred

1901 1970 American South Pacific, How the West Was Won, Camelot (1967), The Song of Bernadette, The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1939), Airport

Newman, Randy

1943   American Toy Story, Pleasantville, Monsters Inc., The Natural

Newman, Thomas

1955   American WALL-E, The Shawshank Redemption, Finding Nemo, Real Genius, American Beauty, The Lost Boys, Little Women

North, Alex

1910 1991 American Spartacus, A Streetcar Named Desire (1951), Good Morning Vietnam, Death of a Salesman, Cleopatra

Poledouris, Basil

1945 2006 American Conan the Barbarian, The Hunt for Red October, RoboCop, Free Willy, Starship Troopers, Lonesome Dove, Red Dawn

Powell, John

1963   British Rio, Shrek, How to Train Your Dragon, Happy Feet, Mr. & Mrs. Smith, Kung Fu Panda, The Lorax, Rat Race, Robots

Reznor, Trent

1965   American The Social Network, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Lost Highway

Rosenman, Leonard

1924 2008 American Rebel Without a Cause, Fantastic Voyage, East of Eden, The Lord of the Rings (1978), sequels of Planet of the Apes, RoboCop, Star Trek

Rota, Nino

1911 1979 Italian The Godfather, Romeo & Juliet, La dolce vita, other Fellini films

Rózsa, Miklós

1907 1995 Hungarian-American Ben-Hur, Spellbound, A Double Life, Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid
Sawtell, Paul 1906 1971 Polish-American Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, The Fly (1958), many Tarzan movies in the 1940s & 50s

Schifrin, Lalo
 ML410 .S2575

1932   Argentine Mission Impossible, The Amityville Horror, Rush Hour, Dirty Harry

Shankar, Ravi
 ML419 .S49

1920 2012 Indian Gandhi, Music and Lyrics, Natural Born Killers, Alice in Wonderland (1966)

Shore, Howard

1946   Canadian The Lord of the Rings, Silence of the Lambs, Mrs. Doubtfire, Big, The Fly, The Aviator, The Last Mimzy

Silvestri, Alan

1950

 

American

Beowulf, Forrest Gump, Back to the Future, The Polar Express, Van Helsing, Cast Away, The Avengers, Predator

Steiner, Max

1888 1971 Austrian-American King Kong (1933), Casablanca, The Caine Mutiny, The Informer, Gone with the Wind, Now Voyager

Stothart, Herbert

1885 1949 American The Wizard of Oz, The Three Musketeers (1948), Mutiny on the Bounty (1935), A Night at the Opera

Tiomkin, Dimitri

1894 1979 Russian High Noon, It's a Wonderful Life, The Bridge of San Luis Rey, The Unforgiven, Town Without Pity, The Guns of Navarone

Vangelis

1943   Greek Blade Runner, Chariots of Fire, 1492: Conquest of Paradise, Alexander, Antarctica

Waxman, Franz

1906 1967 German-American Taras Bulba, Rear Window, Suspicion, Rebecca, Bride of Frankenstein, Sunset Boulevard, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1941)

Williams, John

1932   American Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Jurassic Park, Jaws, Schindler's List, Superman, E.T., Catch Me if You Can, Memoirs of a Geisha

Young, Victor

1899 1956 American Around the World in Eighty Days (1956), The Quiet Man, September Affair, For Whom the Bell Tolls

Zimmer, Hans

1957   German Inception, Batman Begins, Pirates of the Caribbean, Black Hawk Down, The Lone Ranger (2013), Madagascar, Sherlock Holmes (2009)