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Top 15 Best Film Composers and their Compositions in Hollywood


It is almost 90 years from when film music started, and there have composers in every movie. Among them, they achieved success who were able to set an innovative art form. Musical Film scores are the most undivided and observed perspective of movie-making. Music brings in the mood of the movie where only dialogue fails to earn. In this article, we have discussed those some best film composers and their composition. Check out the list below –

Best Film Composers In Hollywood

Here is the list of top film composers in Hollywood

  1. Maurice Jarre
  2. Ennio Morricon
  3. Max Steiner
  4. Joe Hisaishi
  5. Hans Zimmer
  6. Rachel Portman
  7. John Barry
  8. John Williams
  9. Bernard Herrmann
  10. AR Rahman
  11. Henry Mancini
  12. Jerry Goldsmith
  13. Elmer Bernstein
  14. Howard Shore
  15. Alexandre Desplat

1. Maurice Jarre (1924-2009)

best film composers Maurice-Jarre

Maurice Jarre, the first French musician to win an Oscar for Lawrence of Arabia(1962), spent a position of attracting much attention or publicity in his topical France, United Kingdom, and Hollywood. He had a sharp sense of music befitted with experimental stroke. In his song, we find him to fuse ethnic instruments with electronic sounds. He was one of the greatest film composers of all time.  

Recommended Recording: Lawrence of Arabia (available on Apple Music or buy from Amazon).

2.Ennio Morricone (1928-2020)


Morricone was one of the original music artists and hard-working composers in the Hollywood film industry. He was an Italian film composer who produced original music for the “Spaghetti Westerns” alone. 

He was as iconic as melody. Some scores for the movie are “Cinema Paradiso”(1988), “Once Upon a Time in America”, “The Mission”. He won the Awards like Academy Award for Best Music, Golden Globe Award, BAFTA Award, Grammy Hall of Fame. 

Recommended Recording: Morricone 60 (available on Apple Music or buy from Amazon).

3.Max Steiner (1888-1971)


Max Steiner, a Vienna-born composer, whose name must always be listed in the best film composers of all time. In the early 1930s, he created the art of film music with innovative Hollywood scores mostly alone. 

To impersonate the industry and make the audience understand the original music for a movie with dramatic shade and high musicianship, his music for the movie like “King Kong”(1933), played an important role. He earned Academy Award for Best Music, Golden Globe Award, Grammy Hall of Fame.  

Recommended Recording: The Treasure of the Sierra Madre – The Classic 1948 Film score ( Stream on Apple Music or buy from Amazon).

4.Joe Hisaishi (b1950)

greatest film composers of all time

He is well known as Hisaishi in his home country after dubbing “the Japanese John Williams”. But by his wide-ranging, interesting scores for the movies of Hayao Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli, he made his multitude of fans all over the world. He also Acquired eight Japanese Academy Awards. 

Recommended recordings: Dream Songs – The Essential Joe Hisaishi ( stream on Apple Music or buy from Amazon).

5.Hans Zimmer (b1957)


Among the top film composers, Hans Zimmer controls the 21st-century music industry. Being a German-born composer, he rules over Hollywood film music. His creation methods, inter-professional spirits, and musical drama help him to reach the height of success. 

His some well-known works are- scores for “The Lion King “(1995), “Gladiator”(2000), “Pirates of The Caribbean”(2003). At 2013 Classic Brits, he receives Music Award for outstanding contribution to music. 

Recommended recordings: The World of Hans Zimmer- A Symphonic celebration( available on Apple Music or buy from Amazon).

6.Rachel Portman (b1960) 

Rachel-Portman-best movie composer

Among the best film composers female, Rachel Portman keeps her position as the most respected film composer in the United Kingdom. Her scores adorned award-winning films in all modes. 

She has won Oscar for Emma(1996) in 1997. Her scores for “Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted Christmas”(1997), “Addicted to Love” were some famous. 

Recommended recordings: Chocolat – music from the Miramax Motion Picture (Stream on Apple Music or buy from Amazon).

7.John Barry (1933-2011)


John Barry, one of the greatest film composers spent a position with much attention during the ’60s, ’70s, and ’80s. He was one of Britain’s most famous film music composers. 

He composed many songs for James Bond films. His hit songs are The John Dunbar Theme, Somewhere In Time, Midnight Cowboy, etc. He has achieved a rich and diverse career and won five Oscars in boot.

Recommended recordings: Dances with Wolves – Original Motion Picture soundtrack (Streaming on Apple Music or buy from Amazon).

8.John Williams (b1932)

top film composer

John Williams has taken the best film composers of all time. This American composer has shown interest in symphonic film music. He composed for some hit movies like “Star Wars(1977)”, “Jurassic Park”, “Harry Potter” and more others, and has won five Oscars and received the RPS Gold Medal in 2020.

Recommended recordings: John Williams in Vienna(available on Apple or buy from Amazon). 

9.Bernard Herrmann (1911-75)

top film composers

This American composer composed sparkle film scores with an individual voice. His scores had rhythm, tone, and extraordinary instrumentation rather than melody. In between ten years, he broke off the film music rulebook, written by Max Steiner. 

His scores after Alfred Hitchcock will stay as enchanting. Some compositions are Theme from Taxi Driver, The Murder, Mission Organ. He received the Academy Award for the best music and the BAFTA Award for Best Original Score(1977). He belonged to the list of top film composers.

Recommended recordings: Bernard Herrmann – The Essential Film music collection (Stream on Apple Music or buy from Amazon).

10.AR Rahman (b1967)


His scores and original songs have adorned many productions including the UK and the US productions. He wrote a song for “Slumdog Millionaire (2008)” which helps to increase his fan base. He earned two Academy Awards, BAFTA and a Golden Globe Award.

Recommended recordings: Slumdog Millionaire – Music from the Motion Picture (stream or buy from Amazon).

11.Henry Mancini (1924-1994)


This American composer was an original movie scorer. And scored for “The Pink Panther”, “charade”, “Touch of Evil”, “Days of Wine and Roses” with over 350 musical credits. He was one of the greatest film composers of all time that his works are recalled even after 30 years of his death. Besides, he also won four Academy Awards, twenty Grammy Awards, a Golden Globe, and a posthumous Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1995. 

Recommended recordings: Theme from Hatari, Moon river, Tom and Jerry Theme (available on Spotify, Gaana).

12.Jerry Goldsmith( 1929-2004)


Jerry Goldsmith, an American music composer, had over 250 credits. He composed scores for the films like “Planet of the Apes”, “Chinatown”, “Alien”, “L.A Confidential” and many others. He produced music with most of the filmmakers and attempted every genre. One of the best film composers who was nominated for seventeen Academy Awards and got the victory for The Omen in 1976. 

Recommended recordings: It’s a Long Road, Face Hugger, Ave Satani (available on Spotify). 

13.Elmer Bernstein(1922-2004)

best film composers Elmer-Bernstein

With over 250 credits, one of the top film composers, Elmer Bernstein achieved huge success in his life. He was an American composer. His career span was between 1951-2004. He scored in the movies like “The Magnificent Seven”(1960), “Return of the Seven”(1966), “The Man with Golden arm”(1955), “Far from Heaven”. 

He got eleven Oscar nominations and won Academy Award for Best Music, Golden Globe Award for Best Original Score.

Recommended recordings: Ghostbusters, Great Escape March, National Geographic Theme (available on Wynk). 

14.Howard Shore (b1946)


Howard Shore, a Canadian best movie composer, was better known for his scores on Peter Jackson’s “Lord of the Rings movies”. He also introduced himself as a musical director for the film “Saturday Night Live”. 

Along with composing music for Middle Earth he also scores for the movies like “Silence of the Lambs”, “Se7en”, “The Fly”, “The Aviator”, “The Departed”, “Hugo”, “After Hours”. He achieved Academy Award for Best Music, Golden Globe Award for Best Original Score, Grammy awards, and many other awards. 

Recommended recordings: Twilight and Shadow, My Dear Frodo, Old Friends, The Shire( available on Spotify, Gaana, Wynk).

15.Alexandre Desplat (b1961)

This French music composer is one of the best composers in the Hollywood film industry. He has composed 194 credits for film and TV. He chooses the flute as his main instrument. John Williams’s score for “Star Wars: a New Hope” inspired him to put himself as a music composer. 

He is well known for his composition of Wes Anderson’s filmography. His some notable scores for the films like “The Shape of Water”, “The imitation Game”, “The King’s Speech”, the later “Harry Potter” movies. Greta Gerwig’s “Little Women” is his current score which has got the Best original Score nod by the Academy. 

He is one of the best film composers who receives the Academy Award, Globe Golden Award, BAFTA Award. 

Recommended recordings: Lily’s Theme, New Moon, Elisa’s Theme (available on Spotify, Ganna).

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Here we come to know about some best movie composers of all time and their scores which must be remarkable. At times some films become unique for their good scores. Henceforth, composers always try to make good as well as scores movies. There are also many other composers like Danny Elfman, Klaus Badelt who contribute with their best. 

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