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Danny Elfman

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Danny Elfman

Biography

Daniel Robert "Danny" Elfman (b. 29 May 1953, Los Angeles, Calif.) is an American composer, singer, songwriter, and record producer.

Elfman spent much of his teenage years in the local movie theatre, adoring the music of such film composers as Bernard Herrmann and Franz Waxman. Stating that he hung out with the "band geeks" in high school, he started a ska band. After dropping out of high school, he followed his brother Richard to France, where he performed with Le Grand Magic Circus, an avant-garde musical theater group. Violin in tow, Elfman next journeyed to Africa where he traveled through Ghana, Mali, and Upper Volta, absorbing new musical styles, including the Ghanaian highlife genre which would eventually influence his own music.

Modern classicist composers, including Béla Bartók, Philip Glass, Lou Harrison, Carl Orff, Harry Partch, Sergei Prokofiev, Maurice Ravel, Erik Satie, Igor Stravinsky, and Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky have influenced the style of Elfman's music. Elfman cited his first time noticing film music being when he heard Bernard Hermann's score to The Day the Earth Stood Still as an eleven-year-old and being a fan of film music since then. Other influences based in film music include Erich Wolfgang Korngold, Max Steiner, David Tamkin, and Franz Waxman. Also, Nino Rota served as a significant influence and was the main inspiration for Elfman's score to Pee-wee's Big Adventure.

In 1972 Richard Elfman founded the American new wave band/performance art group, originally called The Mystic Knights of the Oingo Boingo. They played several shows throughout the 1970s until Richard Elfman left the band to become a filmmaker. As a send-off to the band's original concept, Richard Elfman created the film Forbidden Zone based on their stage performances. Danny Elfman composed his first score for the film. By the time the movie was completed, they had taken the name Oingo Boingo and begun recording and touring as a rock group. From 1976 and on, it was led by Danny Elfman, until 1995 when they suddenly retired.

In 1985, Tim Burton and Paul Reubens invited Elfman to write the score for their first feature film, Pee-wee's Big Adventure. Elfman was apprehensive at first because of his lack of formal training, but with orchestration assistance from Oingo Boingo guitarist and arranger Steve Bartek, he achieved his goal of emulating the mood of such composers as Nino Rota and Bernard Herrmann. Elfman immediately developed a rapport with Burton and has gone on to score all but two of Burton's major studio releases.

Elfman has been nominated for four Academy Awards and won a Grammy Award for Best Instrumental Composition Written for a Motion Picture, Television or Other Visual Media for Tim Burton's Batman and an Emmy Award for his Desperate Housewives theme. Elfman was honored with the Richard Kirk Award at the 2002 BMI Film and TV Awards; the award is given annually to a composer who has made significant contributions to film and television music. He was also inducted as a Disney Legend in 2015.


Works for Winds

Adaptable Music

  • The Simpsons (Flex instrumentation) (arr. Murtha) (1990/2008)


All Wind Works


References