The 25 Greatest Film Composers

The twenty-five greatest composers in the history of cinema.  Respective film scores are also loosely ranked within.

  1.  John Williams (born 1932)
    Film scores: Star Wars, Jaws, Superman, E.T. The Extra Terrestrial, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Jurassic Park, Schindler’s List, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, The Cowboys, The Witches of Eastwick, Empire of the Sun, Catch Me If You Can, Hook, Home Alone
  2.  Bernard Herrmann (1911-1975)
    Film scores: Psycho, Citizen Kane, Vertigo, North by Northwest, The Twilight Zone, Taxi Driver, The Day the Earth Stood Still, Obsession, The Devil and Daniel Webster, The Ghost and Mrs. Muir, Cape Fear, The Man Who Knew Too Much, Jane Eyre, All That Money Can Buy, Fahrenheit 451
  3.  Ennio Morricone (born 1928)
    Film scores: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, The Mission, Cinema Paradiso, Once Upon a Time in the West, The Hateful Eight, The Untouchables, Days of Heaven, Bugsy, Once Upon a Time in America, Casualties of War, The Legend of 1900, Malena, Bulworth, The Starmaker, The Starmaker, Wolf, In the Line of Fire, The Best Offer
  4.  Alfred Newman (1900-1970)
    Film scores: How the West Was Won, All About Eve, How Green Was My Valley, 20th Century Fox theme, Wuthering Heights, The Greatest Story Ever Told, Airport, Captain From Castle, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, The Robe, Love is a Many-Splendored Thing
  5.  Max Steiner (1888-1971)
    Film scores: Gone with the Wind, King Kong, Casablanca, Treasure of the Sierra Madre, The Informer, Jezebel, Johnny Belinda, Now Voyager, Dark Victory, Adventures of Don Juan, A Summer Place
  6. Hans Zimmer (born 1957)
    Film scores: Gladiator, The Dark Knight, Inception, The Lion King, Pirates of the Caribbean, The Thin Red Line, Dunkirk, Interstellar, Rain Man, Crimson Tide, The Last Samurai, Driving Mrs Daisy, As Good As It Gets, Sherlock Holmes, The Prince of Egypt, 12 Years a Slave
  7.  Jerry Goldsmith (1929-2004)
    Film scores: Chinatown, Planet of the Apes, Star Trek, The Omen, Alien, Mulan, Patton, Papillon, LA Confidential, A Patch of Blue, The Wind and the Lion, The Sand Pebbles, Logan’s Run, Rambo, Total Recall, Hoosiers, Poltergeist, Capricorn One, Air Force One, The Mummy, Under Fire, Basic Instinct,
  8.  Erich Wolfgang Korngold (1897-1957)
    Film scores: The Adventures of Robin Hood, The Sea Hawk, The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex, Captain Blood, The Prince and the Pauper, Kings Row, Anthony Adverse, Deception
  9.  Elmer Bernstein (1922-2004)
    Film scores: The Magnificent Seven, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Great Escape, The Ten Commandments, Far From Heaven, Walk on the Wild Side, The Man With the Golden Gun, Hawaii, The Age of Innocence, Summer and Smoke, Sweet Smell of Success
  10.  Danny Elfman (born 1953)
    Film scores: Batman, The Simpsons, The Nightmare Before Christmas, Good Will Hunting, Men in Black, Milk, Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure, Big Fish, Beetlejuice, Mission Impossible, A Simple Plan, Desperate Housewives, Edward Scissorhands, Sleepy Hollow, Chicago, Alice in Wonderland
  11.  Howard Shore (born 1946)
    Film scores: The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit series, Se7en, Hugo, The Aviator, Eastern Promises, The Silence of the Lambs, Crash, Gangs of New York, Spotlight, The Departed
  12.  James Horner (1953-2015)
    Film scores: Titanic, Braveheart, Aliens, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Avatar, Field of Dreams, Glory, A Beautiful Mind, Cocoon, An American Tail, Honey I Shrunk the Kids, Apollo 13, Legends of the Fall, The Land Before Time, The Perfect Storm
  13.  Maurice Jarre (1924-2009)
    Film scores: Lawrence of Arabia, Doctor Zhivago, A Passage to India, Ryan’s Daughter, Witness, Ghost, Lion of the Desert, The Train, Dead Poets Society, Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome, The Message, The Mosquito Coast, Gorillas in the Mist, A Walk in the Clouds
  14.  Thomas Newman (born 1955)
    Film scores: The Shawshank Redemption, American Beauty, Skyfall, Wall-E, Bridge of Spies, Finding Nemo, Road to Perdition, Six Feet Under, Saving Mr. Banks, Meet Joe Black
  15.  Nino Rota (1911-1979)
    Film scores: The Godfather, The Godfather II, War and Peace, 8 1/2, La Strada, I vitelloni, Romeo and Juliet
  16.  Franz Waxman (1906-1967)
    Film scores: Sunset Blvd, A Place in the Sun, The Bride of Frankenstein, Rebecca, The Philadelphia Story, The Nun’s Story, Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, The Spirit of St Louis, Sayonara, Payton Place, Taras Bulba
  17.  Miklós Rózsa (1907-1995)
    Film scores: Ben-Hur, Double Indemnity, Ivanhoe, King of Kings, Spellbound, El Cid, A Double Life, The Thief of Bagdad, The Lost Weekend, Madame Bovary, Quo Vadis?
  18.  John Barry (1933-2011)
    Film scores: Dr No, Goldfinger and and nine other James Bond films, Dances with Wolves, Out of Africa, Born Free, The Lion in Winter, Somewhere in Time, Body Heat, Chaplin, Mary Queen of Scots, Midnight Cowboy
  19.  Henry Mancini (1924-1994)
    Film scores: The Pink Panther, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Touch of Evil, Wait Until Dark, Hatari!, Charade, Peter Gunn
  20.  James Newton Howard (born 1951)
    Film scores: The Village, The Dark Knight, Defiance, The Fugitive, The Hunger Games, Wyatt Earp, Pretty Woman, Batman Begins, Blood Diamond, The Sixth Sense, The Prince of Tides, Dinosaur, King Kong, Michael Clayton, I Am Legend, ER theme
  21.  Alan Silvestri (born 1950)
    Film scores: Back to the Future, Forest Gump, The Polar Express, The Avengers, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Cast Away, Predator, The Abyss, Van Helsing, The Bodyguard, Contact
  22.  Dimtri Tiomkin (1894-1979)
    Film scores: High Noon, Duel in the Sun, Dial M For Murder, The Guns of Navarone, Friendly Persuasion, Lost Horizon, It’s a Wonderful Life, The High and the Mighty, The Old Man and the Sea, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, The Fall of the Roman Empire, Rio Bravo
  23.  Alex North (1910-1991)
    Film scores: A Streetcar Named Desire, Spartacus, Cleopatra, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, Viva Zapata!, The Misfits, Death of a Salesman, Good Morning Vietnam
  24.  Lalo Schifrin (born 1932)
    Film scores: Mission Impossible theme, Bullitt, Enter the Dragon, Dirty Harry, Cool Hand Luke, Rush Hour, The Amityville Horror, The Fox, Voyage of the Damned, The Sting II
  25.  Jonny Greenwood (born 1971)
    Film scores: There Will Be Blood, The Master, Phantom Thread, We Need to Talk About Kevin, You Were Never Really Here, Norwegian Wood


Honorable Mentions: Rachel Portman, Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, Clint Mansell, Carter Burwell, Randy Newman, Angelo Badalamenti, David Shire, Alexandre Desplat, Michael Giacchino, The Sherman Brothers, Victor Young, David Raskin, Bill Conti, Alan Menken, Bronislau Kaper, Aaron Copland, Herbert Stothart, Vengelis, Johan Johannsson, Andre Previn


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