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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.

Name

Birth

Death

Nationality

Representative Pieces

MMC

Bernstein, Elmer

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

Elfman, Danny
 ML410 .E396

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

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 CDs

Herrmann, Bernard
 ML410 .H562

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

Horner, James

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

Howard, James Newton

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

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  
DVDs

Mancini, Henry

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

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 CDs
DVDs

Newman, Thomas

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

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  
DVDs

Rózsa, Miklós

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

Schifrin, Lalo
 ML410 .S2575

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

Shore, Howard
 ML410 .S528

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

Silvestri, Alan

1950

American

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

Steiner, Max
 ML410 .S8163

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

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  
DVDs

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) CDs
DVDs

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 CDs
DVDs

Zimmer, Hans

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

Film Music Composers

If you are a student of Music History, Composition, or Film Music, here is a more detailed list of film music composers you should know.

Name

Birth

Death

Nationality

Representative Pieces

MMC

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 CDs
DVDs

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

 
DVDs

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
 ML410 .E396

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

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 CDs

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  
DVDs

Hamlisch, Marvin
 ML410 .H1745

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

Herrmann, Bernard
 ML410 .H562

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

Hisaishi, Joe

1950 Japanese Spirited Away, Ponyo, Departures, Princess Mononoke  
DVDs

Horner, James

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

Howard, James Newton

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

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  
DVDs

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 CDs
DVDs

Korngold, Erich Wolfgang

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

Mancini, Henry

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

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 CDs
DVDs

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 CDs

Newman, Randy

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

Newman, Thomas

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

North, Alex
 ML410 .N6745

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

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  
DVDs

Rózsa, Miklós

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

Schifrin, Lalo
 ML410 .S2575

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

Shankar, Ravi

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

Shore, Howard
 ML410 .S528

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

Silvestri, Alan

1950

American

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

Steiner, Max
 ML410 .S8163

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

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  
DVDs

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) CDs
DVDs

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 CDs
DVDs

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)  
DVDs