4 Film Composers You Should Know

Discover the film composers behind some of the most iconic movie soundtracks.

Music has always played an important role in film and TV. The right music can make or break a scene. A good film score can add suspense, change the mood, create tension, and support character arcs. Some of the best film scores are even able to stand alone as epic symphonic scores. You may even catch some at your next trip to the symphony, or even on Marquee TV.   

Here are four of the most famous film composers behind some of Hollywood’s biggest hits. 

Michael Giachino ( Born 1967)

Known For 

  • Up 
  • The Incredibles 
  • Mission Impossible III
  • Coco 

Where would Pixar be without this talented composer? From the Parisian streets of Ratatouille to the mind of young Riley in Inside Out. Giacchino’s music has played an important part in countless childhood classics. He doesn’t just score fantastic family-friendly films. He’s also the man behind the music for epic action films like Mission Impossible, Ghost Protocol, and Jurassic World. He’s even scored music for video games like Call of Duty and iconic TV shows like Lost. A favorite of film directors like J.J Abrams and Taika Waititi, Giacchino really knows his way around Hollywood. He’s got a lot to show for it too, with a nice collection of three Grammys, one Emmy, and one Academy Award. 

The Danish National Symphony Orchestra performs the exhilarating theme from Mission Impossible Ghost Protocol. 

What makes Giacchino’s music so good? 

Michael Giachino is a master of emotion. His seamless writing takes you from a tear-jerking opening scene through to epic action shots, and back again. All while staying in an immersive soundscape that perfectly lives within the film’s imaginary world. 

Not only is he a musical genius, but he also has a real talent for puns that makes him all the more likable ( as if he needed any help). Giacchino is famous for using silly puns to title his tracks. Seriously, if you want a good chuckle check out some of his track titles. Some of our favorites are: ”Kevin Break’n” ( from UP), ”See Jane Thor” ( from Thor Love and Thunder), and ”It’s like herding Parasaurolophus”( from Jurassic World Dominion). 

Fun Fact: Michael Giacchino sometimes makes small cameos in movies he scores, like the ”First Order Stormtrooper FN-3181” Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and the ”It’s a Small World Operator” in Tomorrowland


Hans Zimmer ( Born 1957)

Known For 

  • The Lion King 
  • Interstellar
  • Despicable Me
  • Pirates of the Caribbean

Chances are, you’ve seen more than a few movies scored by Hans Zimmer. This German composer is the Michael Caine of film music, he’s worked on just about every major film in the last 35 years. Seriously, his IMDB page goes on for ages! He’s a favorite of movie director Christopher Nolan. So far, he’s scored 7 of Nolan’s films including The Dark Knight Rises and Dunkirk. All you 90s babies out there will probably know him best for the Disney classic The Lion King

Zimmer does more than just action films and cartoons. He also works on some of the most popular TV shows including The Simpsons, and he even wrote the opening credits for The Crown

 Here, The Danish National Symphony Orchestra performs music from Interstellar, featuring the famous ticking motif. 

Why is Zimmer’s music so good? 

There’s a good reason directors love Hans Zimmer so much. He can write for any genre. From The Lion King to Dune, Zimmer isn’t afraid to explore new genres and invent exciting new sounds along the way. He’s known to use unconventional instruments, like bagpipes, banjos, and pocket watches, and he sometimes even builds new instruments from scratch to get the perfect sound. Zimmer is also the indisputable master of suspense. He frequently creates sound illusions, like the sound of a ticking clock in the soundtracks for Interstellar and Dunkirk, that give films an extra layer of edge-of-your-seat anticipation. 

Fun Fact: Hans Zimmer has been touring the world with his show Hans Zimmer Live, playing his music live for sold-out arenas. In his June 16, 2023 concert at London’s O2 Arena, he proposed live on stage to his girlfriend Dina De Luca. 


John Williams ( Born 1932) 

Known for 

  • Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny
  • Star Wars The Empire Strikes Back
  • Jaws
  • Harry Potter

John Williams has written the scores for countless cult classics. He frequently works with directorial legends like Steven Speilberg, and his music has soundtracked some of the world’s leading franchises like Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Harry Potter, and Jurassic Park, to name a few. He’s been composing since the 1960s, and along the way, he’s racked up an impressive amount of awards. So far, he’s won 25 Grammy Awards and Five Academy Awards. It’s also worth mentioning that, he is the second most-nominated person in Academy Award history with a total of 53 nominations. 

Williams doesn’t just create music for the big screen. He is also a talented concert composer and conductor. He was a pioneer when it came to performing film music live. As the Principal Conductor for the Boston Pops Orchestra, he planned exciting concert programs that featured his film music alongside classical favorites.

Here, The Danish National Symphony Orchestra plays the iconic ”Imperial March” from Star Wars. 

What makes John Williams’ music so good?

John Williams is a fan of the classics. When he composes, he takes a page out of the books of classical music greats like Wagner, Strauss, and Holst. Like the great composers before him, Williams structures his scores like great symphonies. He frequently uses leitmotifs, or musical themes, to create exciting character-driven storylines. The Imperial March from Star Wars is a great example of this. He also likes to work with live orchestras, like the London Symphony Orchestra, who recorded the soundtracks to many of the Star Wars films. There’s just something special about the sound of a live orchestra. 

Fun Fact: He composed the opening theme music for the Olympics.


Ennio Morricone (1928-2020)

Known For 

  • The Good The Bad and The Ugly 
  • The Untouchables 
  • Once Upon a Time in the West
  • The Hateful Eight 

This Italian composer wrote the music for all your favorite Spaghetti Westerns. With over 500 film scores to his name, Ennio Morricone is one of the great film composers of history. Throughout his long career, he racked up an impressive three Grammy Awards, three Golden Globes, two Academy Awards, and six BAFTAs. Although he enjoyed acclaim writing for nearly every genre of film, it was his music for Spaghetti Westerns that really put him on the map. His score for the Sergio Leone classic, Once Upon a Time in The West, sold an estimated 10 million copies! In total, he wrote the scores for about 30 of the 1970s favorite cowboy classics. 

Morricone’s talent didn’t stop at the silver screen. He also wrote nearly 100 stand-alone classical pieces, some of which were even recorded by the great Yo-Yo Ma. 

Here, the Danish National Symphony Orchestra performs the famous theme music from The Good The Bad and The Ugly. 

What makes Morricone’s music so good? 

Morricone’s creative imaginings of what the old west sounds like forever changed the genre. Imagine Clint Eastwood drawing a gun without the birdlike whistles, suspenseful drums, and dramatic shrieking choir to back him up. It just wouldn’t be the same. Every score for a Western film since Morricone has drawn inspiration from the groundbreaking composer. His music captures the atmosphere of whichever genre he’s working in. Evoking the calls of desert coyotes with whistles, or capturing the serene beauty of the South American landscape for the film The Mission by using traditional wind instruments.

Fun Fact: Morricone was part of Gruppo di Improvvisazione Nuova Consonanza, a group of composers dedicated to exploring avant-garde music. 

Now that you know who’s behind the music, press play and start listening to it on Marquee TV. You can watch the Danish National Symphony Orchestra play movie classics anytime on Marquee TV. With fun themes like Fantasymphony, Galaxymphony, Agents are Forever, and The Morricone Duel, they’re guaranteed to play a score you love. 

Fabulous film scores this way

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