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Thomas Newman has composed memorable music that has earned him ten Academy Award nominations and five Grammy Awards.
He is the youngest son of Alfred Newman (1900-1970), the longtime musical director of 20th Century Fox and the composer of scores for such classic films as The Diary of Anne Frank and All About Eve. As a child, Thomas Newman pursued basic music and piano studies; at age 14, with his father’s passing, he felt charged with the desire to write.
He studied composition and orchestration at USC with Professor Frederick Lesemann and noted film composer David Raksin, and privately with composer George Tremblay. He completed his academic work at Yale University, studying with Jacob Druckman, Bruce MacCombie, and Robert Moore. The legendary Broadway composer Stephen Sondheim was a great mentor and champion.
A turning point in Thomas Newman’s career took place while he was working as a musical assistant on Reckless, directed by James Foley; he was promoted to the position of composer and thus created his first film score. He has since composed the music for nearly five dozen features, most recently George Nolfi’s The Adjustment Bureau. The ones that have brought him Academy Award nominations are Frank Darabont’s The Shawshank Redemption; Gillian Armstrong’s Little Women; Diane Keaton’s Unstrung Heroes; Sam Mendes’ Best Picture Oscar winner American Beauty, for which he won Grammy and BAFTA Awards, and Road to Perdition; Brad Silberling’s Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events; Steven Soderbergh’s The Good German; and Andrew Stanton’s Oscar-winning animated movies Finding Nemo and WALL-E. He was a double nominee for the latter, in both the Original Score and Original Song (“Down to Earth,” with Peter Gabriel) categories; and won two Grammy Awards, for Song and Instrumental Arrangement (“Define Dancing”).
His title theme music for the acclaimed television series Six Feet Under brought him two Grammy Awards as well, respectively for his Instrumental Composition and Arrangement work. He was additionally honored with an Emmy Award for Outstanding Main Title Theme Music. Among his other notable television credits is the epic miniseries Angels in America, directed by Mike Nichols, for which he was again a Grammy Award nominee.
Thomas Newman has also composed for the concert stage, including the symphonic work Reach Forth Our Hands, commissioned in 1996 by the Cleveland Orchestra tocommemorate the city’s bicentennial; and At Ward’s Ferry, Length 180 ft., a concerto for double bass and orchestra commissioned in 2001 by the Pittsburgh Symphony. His latest concert piece was a 2009 chamber work entitled It Got Dark, commissioned by the acclaimed Kronos Quartet; as part of a separate commission by the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the work was expanded and adapted for symphony orchestra and string quartet, and premiered at Walt Disney Concert Hall in December 2009.