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Who’s the Greatest Film Composer of All Time? Round Three

on June 27, 2014, 4:19pm
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::cue Star Wars theme:: It is a period of civil war. Six composers, striking from all corners, have won their second round victory against the evil odds. During the battle, Italian composer Nino Rota managed to steal the sacred third round spot from Clint Mansell, a powerful English composer who was given plenty of power from Consequence of Sound readers. Pursued by the horror of John Carpenter, Vangelis races on aboard his orchestral electronica, custodian of the sort of eclecticism that will be needed to restore freedom to the galaxy.

Eh, maybe that’s a little loaded. Still, the search for the Greatest Film Composer of All Time has warranted some spectacular results, and it’s led us to the dreaded third round, where current favorite Ennio Morricone will go against other favorite Danny Elfman in the battle to shatter all polls. Oy. Okay, enough of the intergalactic talk. Just vote, let’s move along, and we’ll finally get to the final round, which will see three composers go toe to toe, or shall we say, screen to screen? Nah, stick with the other wording.

As they say in StarFox64, “Good luuuuuck.”

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Deadline for Round Three voting is next Wednesday, July 2nd.

Ennio Morricone vs. Danny Elfman

Ennio-MorriconeEnnio Morricone’s strength is in his diversity. Three specific scores back up this claim: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, The Untouchables, and The Mission. The score for GBU gallops at a reserved speed, just slow enough for Clint Eastwood’s Blondie to ride off into the sunset with some swagger. The main theme from The Untouchables and its opening credit score are as different as night and day; the former with sweeping strings and horns, the latter with its mysterious piano atop a rat-tat-tat drumbeat. Morricone’s so good that even the great John Carpenter let him score one of his films (The Thing). But at the end of the day, Morricone’s greatest achievement is the go-jus “Gabriel’s Oboe” from the so-so film The Mission. The show’s about to begin… –Justin Gerber


danny elfman Whos the Greatest Film Composer of All Time? Round ThreeAs the vocalist for Oingo Boingo, a band known for their raucous Halloween concerts, it only makes sense that Danny Elfman would click with Tim Burton, the king of macabre comedies and dramas. Elfman provided the compositions for all of the classic films Burton either produced or directed: Pee-wee’s Big Adventure (his first score, which he created without any formal training), Beetlejuice, The Nightmare Before Christmas, Batman, Batman Returns, and Edward Scissorhands. (Fun fact: He also lent his voice for Jack Skellington’s singing parts.) Elfman’s and Burton’s styles seem effortlessly intertwined — the sounds of these films captured both gothic grandeur and a more whimsical sense of wonder. Although he has never won an Academy Award, Elfman has been nominated four times for doing the scores for Good Will Hunting, Men in Black, Big Fish, and Milk. As if that weren’t enough, he’s also responsible for the theme to The Simpsons. Aye carumba. –Killian Young


John Williams vs. Vangelis

John WilliamsI could just type in Superman, Indiana Jones, and Star Wars and call it a day, but I won’t. John Williams blows away most of his contemporaries because in his glory days, he focused not only on composing a great main theme/march for his assigned film, but the entire score of the film. Superman’s “Leaving Home” is the third best piece of music found in that film, and it’s better than anything you’ll hear in any Marvel or DC film today. The Empire Strikes Back’s “The Imperial March”, aka Darth Vader’s theme, is as iconic as the Star Wars theme itself. Oh, and Jaws, which has a piece of music that deters you from ever dipping your toes in the ocean. The best. –Justin Gerber


VangelisIf you’ve ever participated in a marathon, or watched one, you’ve heard Vangelis. Then again, if you’re a self-respected science fiction freak, you’ve also obsessed over the guy’s score for Blade Runner, without a doubt the greatest film for the genre, rivaled only by Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: a space odyssey. Admittedly, Vangelis, or Evangelos Odysseas Papathanassiou, doesn’t exactly have the broadest resume in film, but everything he has accomplished has either nabbed awards (Chariots of Fire) or become all-time favorites (Blade Runner). To date, no composer has been able to capture the Greek wunderkind’s fantastical electronica, and his influence continues to soak up any soul that’s ever connected with a synthesizer, which by our count is a lot. Too many, in fact. –Michael Roffman


Nino Rota vs. Philip Glass

Nino RotaIn adapting Mario Puzo’s novel about an Italian-American crime family, Francis Ford Coppola couldn’t have found a better candidate for the score than Nino Rota. As the unofficial personal composer for legendary filmmaker Federico Fellini, the Italian composer had combined traditional Italian music with American pop and jazz on gems like 8 1/2, La Dolce Vita, and La Strada. But (at least in America) none matches his scores from The Godfather films, from which the main theme went on to be one of the most iconic in film history. –Adam Kivel


phillip glass Whos the Greatest Film Composer of All Time? Round ThreeIt’s not easy to find fissure in the quintessential American composer Philip Glass, but in theory the classical minimalism he reflects through repetition can crack your brain like a hammer to a glass pain. His music requires undivided attention, causing profound cognitive transportation. For years, we’ve been writing fictional stories about time travel, concocting complex clusters of theories analogous to the feelings of wonder, excitement, and fantasy, but as the overture of time unfurls in Glass’s music, you’re able to travel, in real time, to an entirely new dimension of listening. From his operatic victory, Einstein on the Beach, to his 50+ film scores (e.g., The Thin Blue Line, The Truman Show, The Hours) to his many Academy Award nominations, it’s easy to call Philip Glass one of the most influential composers of all time. –Lior Phillips


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