Legendary film scores have a way of staying with us way after we’ve watched the film. Who hasn’t hummed along to the Star Wars theme under their breath or sung along to ‘Ride of the Valkyries’ during that scene in Apocolypse Now? The composers of such pieces have left much more of a legacy than one may initially consider. As a continuation of my previous list, here are another top 5 film score composers of all time.
Elfman started his musical career as part of his brother Richard’s surrealist performance art theatre troupe The Mystic Knights of the Oingo Boingo who would later transform into the band Oingo Boingo in 1979. The man with hits such as ‘Dead Man’s Party’ and ‘Weird Science.’ He composed his first score in the early 80s with the Oingo Boingo‘s surreal film vehicle Forbidden Zone. A few years later he would begin his long-time collaboration with director Tim Burton by composing the score for Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure. He went on to compose scores for a plethora of films including Batman Begins, Edward Scissorhands, Good Will Hunting, Silver Linings Playbook and the remake of Dumbo. Elfman is a composer who not only composes with a rich combination of orchestral instruments but is also versatile in his use of style. Elfman’s next release is The Voyage of Doctor Dolittle.
As a five year old boy, Horner started learning the piano. In his twenties, he composed his debut film score for the 1980 space opera film Battle Beyond the Stars but his big break through came a couple of years later when he composed the score for Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. From there he went on to compose a variety of scores for films including Aliens, Braveheart, Titanic, Avatar and the 2016 remake of The Magnificent Seven. Horner was known for his frequent use of celtic music motifs and combining electronic music with choral music. It’s entirely possible that he would still be composing film scores today but unfortunately Horner died in a single-fatality aircraft crash in June 2015.
It’s hard to imagine that a man who started his career as a saxophonist for the rock group Lighthouse would go on to become one of the most prolific film composers of modern times. Shore has had his hand in almost every genre from light-hearted family-friendly movies to horror to fantasty epics and more. A man whose daily schedule still contains film composing even in his early 70s, Shore’s style is broad but with a clear penchant for choir and heavy violin use. You can listen to some of his work in a multitude of films including The Fly, Mrs Doubtfire, Dogma, Spotlight and The Lord of the Rings trilogy.
Newman started his career in musical theatre, working regularly with musical theatre legend Sondheim. He got into film score composing in the early 1980s working on Revenge of the Nerds, Reckless and Grandview U.S.A. His career blossomed from there, now holding the distinction of composing scores for at least one Oscar-nominated film a year since 1994. His style is best displayed in American Beauty: heavy use of tuned percussion. You can listen out for his work in these following films: Scent of a Woman, Little Women, The Shawshank Redemption, The Iron Lady and Tolkein.
Fans of Buffy the Vampire Slayer will know Beck as the man who can reduce some of them to a puddle with the simple notes that compose the first few bars of Angel & Buffy’s love theme. The Canadian-born musician ended up being taught by, among others, well known film composer Jerry Goldsmith at USC’s film scoring program. His first major job was composing the score for Crossworlds. From there he came to prominence as the composer of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer score for the first five seasons and its season 6 musical episode. He’s gone on to be one of the better known film composers with an emphasis on emotive truth and odd time beats. Some of his best known work includes the scores for the Ant-Man films, the Hangover series, Pitch Perfect, Cheaper by the Dozen and Frozen.