Saturday, January 26, 2008

My Favourite composers - in no particular order

Hans Zimmer

My favourites Zimmer scores are Thin Red Line, Da Vinci Code, Beyond Rangoon and King Arthur. At present Zimmer is producing some fantastic work.

John Williams

Check out these - Memoirs of a Geisha, Saving Private Ryan and The Eigar Sanction. I've really only recently warmed to John Williams, through scores like Munich but his earlier Close Encounters of a Third kind was fantastic.

Stephen Warbeck
The best Warbeck soundtrack in my opinion is Charlotte Gray. I think Warbeck is much under-rated. Try also Quills and Shakespeare in Love.

Rachel Portman
Probably the only woman in the field, along with Angela Morely (who did Watership Down). The best Portman score is Cider House Rules, closely followed by Beloved, Emma (Academy Award) and The Legend of Bagger Vance.

Ennio Morricone
Justifiably called "The Maestro", probably the best in the field today. It is almost impossible to choose a favourite Morricone score, but ones that i do consistently enjoy are: Lolita, Fateless, Once Upon a Time in the West, and Moses the Law-Giver. My favourite may well be the little known Guns of San Sebastian.

Mark Isham
Compared to most other composers, Isham scores are simple, melodic and highly disciplined. I think that's his appeal. He has always been one of my favourites with scores such as; Never Cry Wolf, The Browning Version, The Beast of War, which included the incredible vocals by Shahla Sharslesinger.

James Newton Howard

For a long time, I thought Howard was under-rated but these days he is well and truely coming into his own. His music is full, rich and melodic, wonderful to listen to. My favourite is The Village, which features the child protege violinist, Hilary Hahn. Other Howard scores that are worth listening to are : Snow Falling on Cedars and the more recent Blood Diamonds, which is rich in African rhythms.

Klaus Badelt
Badelt is of course a protege of Hans Zimmer having worked together on numerous scores like The Gladiator. In fact Zimmer resonates within Badelt's scores, no problem for those of us who really like Hans Zimmer. My favourite of Badelt's is K19 The Widow-Maker, but I recently acquired The Promise, a Chinese Movie. It's a fantastic score and you should check it out.

James Horner
Horner is probably my favourite film score composer. Its a hard choice between, Horner, Zimmer, Morricone... and all the others. James Horner is incredibly prolific; there is something about his style that I really enjoy. Its a tragedy that his New World score, wasn't really used; i thought it was wonderful. Like Morricone, its very hard to choose a favourite Horner score. However my favourites would be Man Without a Face, Iris (which features the young violinist Joshua Bell), A Beautiful Mind, and Apocalypto. An earlier work, The Name of the Rose, is also very good.

George Fenton
George Fenton is another composer who seems under-rated, although he keeps very busy. His score to the television series Blue Planet was fantastic. But my favourite Fenton score is Anna and the King.

John Barry
If I were ever to direct a movie, I would choose John Barry to write the score. His style is languid, long-phrased and exceptionally easy to listen to. With John Williams, I think he holds the record for Academy Awards for Best Soundtrack. My favourite Barry score is probably, Until September, but close in behind would be Swept From the Sea, Mercury Rising and Enigma.

Photographs of the composers above, are from (see link above) with thanks.


I've been collecting movie soundtracks for about 20 years or so, its been quite a passion. I normally choose the movies I see by the soundtrack composer. Over the last few years, I've also collected a few ideas about what makes a good soundtrack, though I am no expert, I just know what I like. I've just found out, too, what a blog is, so this seems of good chance to post some of my thoughts I guess on film music. Thanks for reading this. I'd love to hear what your views are, especially if you have any lists of favourites, as I've published below.
I think film soundtrack music is a great undiscovered secret, well, that's the case in New Zealand. Film music makes or breaks a movie; so, in my case, it was a great discovery, one that I've really enjoyed for ages. And, knowing that new soundtracks are being released all the time by great composers makes keeps me in a pertpetual state of .. well, it keeps me happy.