John Williams and Steven Spielberg working on the score for E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial (1982). Pure magic.
At its worst, it’s just noise in the background. At its best, it can carry a movie and trigger a violently emotional response from the audience. Film music has been a constant part of my life since my teens when I started buying CD soundtracks. One of my first was Howard Shore’s The Silence of the Lambs (1991). Jerry Goldsmith’s The Omen (1976) is still a frightening masterpiece; I remember listening to “Ave Satani” with some trepidation in my boyhood room.
In the past few years I’ve been creating and updating my own Spotify lists of composers. It’s been an opportunity to explore their scores and pick favorite pieces, old ones and newly discovered. In this blog entry I’ll list the composers and embed my Spotify playlists – which will continue to be updated, especially those belonging to composers who are still active. Enjoy.
This list turned out to be such a massive undertaking that I had to divide the original blog post into two. Here are the first 25 composers, from David Arnold to Trevor Jones. Here’s the second half of the list.
Born in Britain in 1962. Composer of multiple James Bond scores. My favorite is Casino Royale (2006), especially his insane “Miami International” track.
1933-2011, born in Britain. Won five Oscars for the scores of Born Free (also Best Original Song), The Lion in Winter, Out of Africa and Dances With Wolves. My favorite: His 007 scores.
Born in the U.S. in 1966. My favorite: Scream (1996).
1922-2004, born in the U.S. Won Oscar for Thoroughly Modern Millie (1967). My favorite: The Magnificent Seven (1960).
Born in the U.S. in 1962. Frequent collaborator: Spike Lee. My favorite: Mo’ Better Blues (1991).
Born in the U.S. in 1954. Frequent collaborator: the Coen brothers. My favorite: True Grit (2010).
Born in the U.S. in 1948. My favorite: Halloween (1978).
Born in the U.S. in 1956. My favorite: The Passion of the Christ (2004).
1925-1992, born in France. Won Oscar for A Little Romance (1980). Frequent collaborator: François Truffaut. My favorite: Rich and Famous (1981).
Born in West Germany in 1974. My favorite: the varied and extensive music he has written for Game of Thrones.
Born in Italy in 1941. Frequent collaborator: Brian De Palma. My favorite: Body Double (1984).
Born in Britain in 1953. Frequent collaborator: Kenneth Branagh. My favorite: Sense and Sensibility (1995).
Born in the U.S. in 1953. Frequent collaborator: Tim Burton. My favorite: Batman (1989).
1929-2004, born in the U.S. Won Oscar for The Omen (1976), which is also my favorite.
Born in Britain in 1961. My favorite: The Martian (2015).
James Newton Howard
Born in the U.S. in 1951. Frequent collaborator: M. Night Shyamalan. My favorite: Signs (2002).
Born in Spain in 1955. Frequent collaborator: Pedro Almodóvar. My favorite: the theme for Broken Embraces (2009).
1969-2018, born in Iceland. Frequent collaborator: Denis Villeneuve. My favorite: The Theory of Everything (2015).
Born in South Africa in 1949. My favorite: The Last of the Mohicans (1992).