Part 2: Celebrating Music in the Movies

Industry greats

Many award ceremonies recognise the importance of film scores, with the Academy Awards awarding for the best Original Score and Original Song. At this year’s Academy Awards, Alexandre Desplat claimed his first Oscar for best Original Score for The Grand Budapest Hotel. He also claimed this year’s Bafta.

Looking at the Academy Awards’ statistics database, it’s no surprise to see that John Williams (born 1932) has received the most nominations in the Original Score category, with a staggering 44. Of those, he has won five. In a close second place is Alfred Newman (1901-1970) with 41 nominations and 9 wins while in third place is Max Steiner (1888-1971) with 20 nominations and two wins.

John Williams’ Academy Award success

  • 1971 – Fiddler on the Roof – Best Scoring Adaptation and Original Song Score
  • 1975 – Jaws – Best Original Dramatic Score
  • 1975 – Star Wars – Best Original Score
  • 1982 – E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial – Best Original Score
  • 1993 – Schindler’s List – Best Original Score

The Newman family

  • David Newman, Alfred’s son, has scored nearly 100 films, including The War of the Roses, Matilda and Ice Age
  • Thomas Newman, Alfred’s son, has received 12 Academy Award nominations for film scoring. His filmography includes The Shawshank Redemption, American Beauty and Skyfall
  • Randy Newman, Alfred’s nephew, is a two-time Academy Award winner and popular singer/songwriter, also winning various Emmys and Grammy Awards

‘The Father of Film Music’

An Austrian-born composer, Steiner was a child prodigy who would go on to compose over 300 film scores, including Gone with the Wind. He was the recipient of the first Golden Globe Award for Best Original Score, won for 1947’s Life with Father.

The next generation

Understandably, at 83-years-old, Williams has slowed down, with his most recent compositions being for 2011’s The Adventures of Tintin and War Horse, 2012’s Lincoln and 2013’s The Book Thief. He has also composed the score for Star Wars: The Force Awakens, due for release later this year.

Contemporary names frequently seen in credits and at award shows include Hans Zimmer (Gladiator, The Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, Inception), Alexandre Desplat (The King’s Speech, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Parts 1 and 2, The Imitation Game) and Danny Elfman (Milk, Alice in Wonderland, Silver Linings Playbook).

James Horner also deserves a mention, with his score for Titanic being the bestselling orchestral film soundtrack of all time; Titanic and Avatar (which he also scored) are the two highest-grossing films of all time.

Next time:

Part 3 – Enduring classics
What is the most recognisable piece of film music? Would you say it is Barry’s ‘James Bond’, Williams’ ‘Star Wars’ or something else?


Part 1 – Invoking emotions
Music can stir feelings within you in a unique way. What do you feel when you hear the Jaws soundtrack or Jones’ ‘Last of the Mohicans’?

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