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Over the past 25 years, Los Angeles native and resident Danny Elfman has established himself as one of film’s leading composers.
His collaborations with director Gus Van Sant on Milk and Good Will Hunting brought Mr. Elfman Academy Award nominations; he has been nominated twice more, for Barry Sonnenfeld’s Men in Black and Tim Burton’s Big Fish. The latter also earned him a Golden Globe Award nomination.
Movie audiences worldwide have heard the composer’s unique sound and style with some 60 film scores. His signature scores include ones for Tim Burton’s Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure, Beetlejuice, Batman, Edward Scissorhands, and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, among their many movies together; Henry Selick’s The Nightmare Before Christmas, which brought Mr. Elfman his first Golden Globe Award nomination; Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man; Taylor Hackford’s Dolores Claiborne; Martin Brest’s Midnight Run; Jon Amiel’s Sommersby; the Hughes Brothers’ Dead Presidents; and Rob Marshall’s Academy Award-winning Chicago.
Television audiences worldwide can instantly identify his theme music for The Simpsons and Desperate Housewives, for which he was honored with an Emmy Award nomination and win, respectively. He has been nominated for a Grammy Award eight times.
Mr. Elfman’s first experience in performing and composition was for a French theatrical troupe, Le Grand Magic Circus, at the age of 18. The following year, he collaborated with his brother Richard performing musical theatre on the streets of California. He then worked with a “surrealistic musical cabaret” for six years, using this outlet to explore multifarious musical genres. For seventeen years, he wrote and performed with the rock band Oingo Boingo, producing such hits as “Weird Science” and “Dead Man’s Party.”
His first composition for ballet, entitled “Rabbit and Rogue,” had its American Ballet Theatre (ABT) world premiere at the Metropolitan Opera House at Lincoln Center in New York City in June 2008. The ballet was choreographed by Twyla Tharp and commissioned by ABT.
In addition to Milk (also for Focus Features), Mr. Elfman’s 2008 film scores included Timur Bekmambetov’s Wanted; Guillermo del Toro’s Hellboy II: The Golden Army; and the documentary Standard Operating Procedure, directed by Errol Morris. Collectively, the quartet earned him the Composer of the Year Award from the Hollywood Awards.
His 2009 film scores include George Tillman Jr.’s Notorious; McG’s Terminator Salvation; Joe Johnston’s The Wolf Man; and (also for Focus Features) Ang Lee’s Taking Woodstock.