Movie scores are original music written specifically for individual films and they are very important as music helps create the perfect tone, mood and atmosphere for a particular scene, without the need for a single dialogue. Other than evoking emotions, it can also be used to tie unrelated scenes together. A successful film captures the audience’s emotions and a powerful score helps to stir up those feelings and enriches and deepens the audiences’ experiences.

Here is a list of notable film composers that everyone should know:

Ennio Morricone

Ennio Morricone ( 10 Nov 1928 – 6 July 2020), an Italian composer, orchestrator, conductor, and trumpet player who wrote music in a wide range of styles. With more than 400 scores for cinema and television, as well as more than 100 classical works, Morricone is widely considered as one of the most prolific and greatest film composers of all time. His filmography includes more than 70 award-winning films.

Music is an experience, not a science.

Ennio Morricone

John Williams

John Towner Williams (born February 8, 1932) is an American composer, conductor, pianist and trombonist. Regarded by many as the greatest film composer of all time, he has composed some of the most popular, recognisable, and critically acclaimed film scores in cinematic history in a career spanning over six decades.

To continue to work, to continue to love what you do, is certainly a contributing element to one’s longevity and health.

John Williams

Hans Zimmer

Hans Florian Zimmer (born 12 September 1957) is a German film score composer and record producer. Zimmer’s works are notable for integrating electronic music sounds with traditional orchestral arrangements. Since the 1980s, he has composed music for over 150 films. 

You have to remain flexible, and you must be your own critic at all times.

Hans Zimmer

Danny Elfman

Daniel Robert Elfman (born May 29, 1953) is an American composer, singer, songwriter, record producer and actor. He first became well known as the singer-songwriter for the new wave band Oingo Boingo in the early 1980s, and has since garnered international recognition for writing over 100 feature film scores, as well as compositions for television, stage productions, and the concert hall.

If there’s one thing I really love… it’s sad music.

Danny Elfman

Bernard Herrmann

Bernard Herrmann (June 29, 1911 – December 24, 1975) was an American composer, best known for his work in composing for motion pictures. As a conductor, he championed the music of lesser-known composers.

Your views are as narrow as your tie.

Bernard Herrmann

James Horner

James Roy Horner (August 14, 1953 – June 22, 2015) was an American composer, conductor and orchestrator of over 100 film scores. He was known for the integration of choral and electronic elements, and for his frequent use of motifs associated with Celtic music.

I think people hire me for the slightly weird angle that I bring. Part of the trick is keeping it sort of simple; you have to give the impression of not that much music playing when there’s really a lot.

James Horner

Max Steiner

Maximilian Raoul Steiner (May 10, 1888 – December 28, 1971) was an Austrian-born American music composer for theatre and films, as well as a conductor.

I never run out of tunes. Music is always in my mind. Sometimes I wake up at three in the morning and begin tossing. My wife will say, ‘Daddy, why don’t you write it down?’ So I get up, put it on a paper, and go back to sleep.

Max Steiner


Alfred Newman

Alfred Newman (March 17, 1900 – February 17, 1970) was an American composer, arranger, and conductor of film music. From his start as a music prodigy, he came to be regarded as a respected figure in the history of film music.

We are living in a world today where lemonade is made from artificial flavors and furniture polish is made from real lemons.

Alfred Newman


Erich Wolfgang Korngold

Erich Wolfgang Korngold (May 29, 1897 – November 29, 1957) was an Austrian-born composer and conductor. A child prodigy, he became one of the most important and influential composers in Hollywood history.

When there are sequences when the eye, and not the ear, is the primary object, then the composer has his fling in the writing of incidental background music.

Erich Wolfgang Korngold

John Barry

John Barry was a legendary English composer and conductor of film music of several Oscar-winning soundtracks.

Occasionally, you get a nice surprise when someone covers your song in an extraordinary way.

John Barry

Vangelis

Evángelos Odysséas Papathanassíou (born 29 March 1943), known professionally as Vangelis, is a Greek musician who has never been able to read music. He recorded his composition which was then translated into a musical score and given to members of the orchestra. Having had a career in music spanning over 50 years and having composed and performed more than 50 albums, ranging from electronic, progressive, ambient, jazz, and orchestral music, he is regarded as one of the most important figures in the history of electronic music.

Music is the most multi-dimensional knowledge we have. It’s as specific as nature can be. Any form nature takes contains a specific sound combination. Music is a language. It’s a memory of the cosmic system, a memory of past and future. Above all it’s science not entertainment.

Vangelis