Academy Award for Best Original Score (1934 to 2023 Winners)

The Academy Awards, also known as the Oscars, are one of the most prestigious and well-known awards you can receive in film.

Audiences love memorable acting, cinematography, and iconic scenes. However, the film music can also make a powerful impact by setting the tone, creating emotion, and enhancing the overall feeling of the movie.

Today, film music continues to have a profound influence on American culture, providing an emotional backdrop to some of the most iconic moments in our nation’s history. That’s why the Academy has featured a “Best Original Score” category since 1935 (the 7th Academy Awards)!

Something else I’ve noticed is that the Oscars are also a very popular trivia topic. I can’t tell you how many times a question about “the Academy Award for Best Original Score” has come up, and suddenly all eyes are on me, ‘the guitarist friend’, as if I’m supposed to have all the answers.

I actually blew it the other night at my favorite bar when a question came up asking “What was the first Disney film to win Best Original Score?”.

“Well, Jonathan?” my girlfriend Becca asked.

“It’s gotta be Dumbo!” I exclaimed with confidence, not giving much of an afterthought.

You can imagine my embarrassment when the correct answer was announced through the crackling bar speaker: “The correct answer is Pinocchio”. 馃槼

My friends were nice about it, but I could feel the disappointment looming around the table. I thought to myself, “that’s it, I need to create my own resource that has ALL of the Academy Awards for Best Original Score”.

And that’s exactly what you’ll find in this article: a massive collection of every film that’s won the Best Original Score Oscar since 1934.

So if you’re the resident musician in your friend group, please make sure to give this article a glance before you head out to your next trivia event. Who knows? It just might save your team, and earn you a few free drinks in the process!

Academy award for best original score article cover with gold Oscar trophies

Chart of Academy Award for Best Original Score Winners

Ever since the 72nd Academy Award ceremony in the year 2000, there’s just been one winner for best “Original Score”. However, the category and award title has gone through many changes over time, and it wasn’t always this simple.

For instance, there are many years where one film won the award for “Scoring of a Musical Picture”, and another film won the award for “Music Score of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture”. Today, we consider both films winners in the category of best “Original Score”.

That said, you’ll see multiple “winners” for the same year in the chart below.

Also, note that the year in the left column is the year the film was released, not the year it won the award. For example, the 1934 film One Night of Love won the Oscar in the subsequent year 1935.

Lastly, please note that the release date below is for a film’s U.S. release date. For example, Life is Beautiful was released in Europe in 1997. However, it wasn’t released in the U.S. until 1998.

You can click on any of the film names below to jump to a description of the film score, including a link to download the soundtrack on Amazon Music, or in some cases, stream it on YouTube.

Release YearFilmWinner
1934One Night of LoveColumbia Studio Music Department, Louis Silvers, head of department
1935The InformerRKO Radio Studio Music Department, Max Steiner, head of department (Score by Steiner)
1936Anthony AdverseWarner Bros. Studio Music Department, Leo F. Forbstein, head of department (Score by Erich Wolfgang Korngold)
1937One Hundred Men and a GirlUniversal Studio Music Department, Charles Previn, head of department 
1938The Adventures of Robin HoodErich Wolfgang Korngold (Original Score)
1938Alexander’s Ragtime BandAlfred Newman (Scoring)
1939The Wizard of OzHerbert Stothart
1939StagecoachRichard Hageman, W. Franke Harling, John Leipold & Leo Shuken (Scoring)
1940PinocchioLeigh Harline, Paul Smith & Ned Washington (Original Score)
1940Tin Pan AlleyAlfred Newman (Scoring)
1941The Devil and Daniel WebsterBernard Herrmann (Music Score of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture)
1941DumboFrank Churchill & Oliver Wallace (Scoring of a Musical Picture)
1942Now, VoyagerMax Steiner (Music Score of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture)
1942Yankee Doodle DandyRay Heindorf & Heinz Roemheld (Scoring of a Musical Picture)
1943The Song of BernadetteAlfred Newman (Music Score of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture)
1943This Is the ArmyRay Heindorf (Scoring of a Musical Picture)
1944Since You Went AwayMax Steiner (Music Score of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture)
1944Cover GirlMorris Stoloff & Carmen Dragon (Scoring of a Musical Picture)
1945SpellboundMikl贸s R贸zsa (Music Score of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture)
1945Anchors AweighGeorgie Stoll (Scoring of a Musical Picture)
1946The Best Years of Our LivesHugo Friedhofer (Music Score of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture)
1946The Jolson StoryMorris Stoloff (Scoring of a Musical Picture)
1947A Double LifeMikl贸s R贸zsa (Music Score of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture)
1947Mother Wore TightsAlfred Newman (Scoring of a Musical Picture)
1948The Red ShoesBrian Easdale (Music Score of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture)
1948Easter ParadeJohnny Green & Roger Edens (Scoring of a Musical Picture)
1949The HeiressAaron Copland (Music Score of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture)
1949On the TownRoger Edens & Lennie Hayton (Scoring of a Musical Picture)
1950Sunset BoulevardFranz Waxman (Music Score of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture)
1950Annie Get Your GunAdolph Deutsch & Roger Edens (Scoring of a Musical Picture)
1951A Place in the SunFranz Waxman (Music Score of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture)
1951An American in ParisSaul Chaplin & Johnny Green (Scoring of a Musical Picture)
1952 High NoonDimitri Tiomkin (Music Score of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture)
1952With a Song in My HeartAlfred Newman (Scoring of a Musical Picture)
1953LiliBronis艂aw Kaper (Scoring of a Musical Picture)
1953Call Me MadamAlfred Newman (Scoring of a Musical Picture)
1954The High and the MightyDimitri Tiomkin (Music Score of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture)
1954Seven Brides for Seven BrothersSaul Chaplin & Adolph Deutsch (Scoring of a Musical Picture)
1955Love Is a Many-Splendored ThingAlfred Newman (Music Score of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture)
1955Oklahoma!Robert Russell Bennett, Jay Blackton & Adolph Deutsch (Scoring of a Musical Picture)
1956Around the World in 80 DaysVictor Young (Music Score of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture)
1956The King and IKen Darby & Newman (Scoring of a Musical Picture)
1957The Bridge on the River KwaiMalcolm Arnold (Scoring of a Musical Picture)
1958The Old Man and the SeaDimitri Tiomkin (Music Score of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture)
1958GigiAndr茅 Previn (Scoring of a Musical Picture)
1959Ben-HurMikl贸s R贸zsa (Music Score of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture)
1959Porgy and BessKen Darby & Andr茅 Previn (Scoring of a Musical Picture)
1960ExodusErnest Gold (Music Score of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture)
1960Song Without EndMorris Stoloff & Harry Sukman (Scoring of a Musical Picture)
1961Breakfast at Tiffany’sHenry Mancini (Music Score of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture)
1961West Side StorySaul Chaplin, Johnny Green, Sid Ramin, and Irwin Kostal (Scoring of a Musical Picture)
1962Lawrence of ArabiaMaurice Jarre (Music Score 鈥 Substantially Original)
1962The Music ManRay Heindorf (Scoring of Music 鈥 Adaptation or Treatment)
1963Tom JonesJohn Addison (Music Score 鈥 Substantially Original)
1963Irma la DouceAndr茅 Previn (Scoring of Music 鈥 Adaptation or Treatment)
1964Mary PoppinsSherman Brothers (Music Score 鈥 Substantially Original)
1964Mary PoppinsAndr茅 Previn (Scoring of Music 鈥 Adaptation or Treatment)
1965Doctor ZhivagoMaurice Jarre (Music Score 鈥 Substantially Original)
1965The Sound of MusicIrwin Kostal (Scoring of Music 鈥 Adaptation or Treatment)
1966Born FreeJohn Barry (Original Music Score)
1966A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the ForumKen Thorne (Scoring of Music 鈥 Adaptation or Treatment)
1967Thoroughly Modern MillieElmer Bernstein (Original Music Score)
1967CamelotKen Darby & Alfred Newman (Scoring of Music 鈥 Adaptation or Treatment)
1968The Lion in WinterJohn Barry (Original Score 鈥 For a Motion Picture [Not a Musical])
1968Oliver!Johnny Green (Scoring of a Musical Picture 鈥 Original or Adaptation)
1969Butch Cassidy and the Sundance KidBurt Bacharach [Original Score 鈥 For a Motion Picture (Not a Musical)]
1969Hello, Dolly!Lennie Hayton & Lionel Newman (Scoring of a Musical Picture 鈥 Original or Adaptation)
1970Love StoryFrancis Lai (Original Score)
1970Let It BeThe Beatles (Original Song Score)
1971Summer of ’42Michel Legrand (Original Dramatic Score)
1971Fiddler on the RoofJohn Williams (Scoring: Adaptation and Original Song Score)
1972LimelightCharlie Chaplin, Raymond Rasch & Larry Russell (Original Dramatic Score)
1972CabaretRalph Burns (Scoring: Adaptation and Original Song Score)
1973The Way We WereMarvin Hamlisch (Original Dramatic Score)
1973The StingMarvin Hamlisch (Scoring: Original Song Score and Adaptation or Scoring: Adaptation)
1974The Godfather Part IINino Rota & Carmine Coppola (Original Dramatic Score)
1974The Great GatsbyNelson Riddle (Scoring: Original Song Score and Adaptation or Scoring: Adaptation)
1975JawsJohn Williams (Original Score)
1975Barry LyndonLeonard Rosenman (Scoring: Original Song Score and Adaptation or Scoring: Adaptation)
1976The OmenJerry Goldsmith (Original Score)
1976Bound for GloryLeonard Rosenman (Original Song Score and Its Adaptation or Adaptation Score)
1977Star WarsJohn Williams (Original Score)
1977A Little Night MusicJonathan Tunick (Original Song Score and Its Adaptation or Adaptation Score)
1978Midnight ExpressGiorgio Moroder (Original Score)
1978The Buddy Holly StoryJoe Renzetti (Adaptation Score)
1979A Little RomanceGeorges Delerue (Original Score)
1979All That JazzRalph Burns (Original Song Score and Its Adaptation or Adaptation Score)
1980FameMichael Gore
1981Chariots of FireVangelis
1982E.T. the Extra-TerrestrialJohn Williams (Original Score)
1982Victor/VictoriaHenry Mancini & Leslie Bricusse (Original Song Score and Its Adaptation or Adaptation Score)
1983The Right StuffBill Conti (Original Score)
1983YentlMichel Legrand & Alan & Marilyn Bergman (Original Song Score and Its Adaptation or Adaptation Score)
1984A Passage to IndiaMaurice Jarre (Original Score)
1984Purple RainPrince (Original Song Score)
1985Out of AfricaJohn Barry (Original Song Score)
1986Round MidnightHerbie Hancock (Original Song Score)
1987The Last EmperorRyuichi Sakamoto, David Byrne & Cong Su (Original Song Score)
1988The Milagro Beanfield WarDave Grusin (Original Song Score)
1989The Little MermaidAlan Menken (Original Song Score)
1990Dances with WolvesJohn Barry
1991Beauty and the BeastAlan Menken
1992AladdinAlan Menken
1993Schindler’s ListJohn Williams
1994The Lion KingHans Zimmer
1995The Postman (Il Postino)Luis Bacalov (Original Dramatic Score)
1995PocahontasAlan Menken & Stephen Schwartz (Original Musical or Comedy Score)
1996The English PatientGabriel Yared (Original Dramatic Score)
1996EmmaRachel Portman (Original Musical or Comedy Score)
1997TitanicJames Horner (Original Dramatic Score)
1997The Full MontyAnne Dudley (Original Musical or Comedy Score)
1998Life Is BeautifulNicola Piovani (Original Dramatic Score)
1998Shakespeare in LoveStephen Warbeck (Original Musical or Comedy Score)
1999The Red ViolinJohn Corigliano (Original Musical or Comedy Score)
2000Crouching Tiger, Hidden DragonTan Dun
2001The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the RingHoward Shore
2002FridaElliot Goldenthal
2003The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the KingHoward Shore
2004Finding NeverlandJan A. P. Kaczmarek
2005Brokeback MountainGustavo Santaolalla
2006BabelGustavo Santaolalla
2007AtonementDario Marianelli
2008Slumdog MillionaireA. R. Rahman
2009UpMichael Giacchino
2010The Social NetworkTrent Reznor & Atticus Ross
2011The ArtistLudovic Bource
2012Life of PiMychael Danna
2013GravitySteven Price
2014The Grand Budapest HotelAlexandre Desplat
2015The Hateful EightEnnio Morricone
2016La La LandJustin Hurwitz
2017The Shape of WaterAlexandre Desplat
2018Black PantherLudwig G枚ransson
2019JokerHildur Gu冒nad贸ttir
2020SoulTrent Reznor, Atticus Ross & Jon Batiste
2021DuneHans Zimmer
2022All Quiet On The Western FrontVolker Bertelmann

2020s Winners

All Quiet On The Western Front – Volker Bertelmann

German composer Volker Bertelmann won the 95th Academy Award for Best Original Score for the film All Quiet On The Western Front (2022).

The score features an iconic three note motif that builds intensity throughout the film. Bertelmann’s score features the use of the harmonium, which is one of the most distinctive aspects of the film score. Bertelmann even created bullet-like effect with the harmonium, an incredible and moving form of music depiction.

Dune – Hans Zimmer

The soundtrack for the film adaptation of Dune (2021) features an original score composed by Hans Zimmer. Zimmer has described the score as “epic and emotional” and has said that it draws upon a variety of musical influences. It also features a variety of classical, electronic, and world music elements.

Other contributors to the soundtrack include Radiohead鈥檚 Jonny Greenwood. The soundtrack also includes songs from bands like Pink Floyd, Tool, and Massive Attack. Zimmer won the 94th Academy Award for best “Original Score”.

Soul – Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross & Jon Batiste

The soundtrack to the movie Soul (2020) features a mix of modern and classic soul music, as well as jazz, funk, and hip-hop. The soundtrack includes songs by Bilal, Robert Glasper, Ahmir, The Roots, and more.

Additionally, Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross have composed an original score for the film. The soundtrack is reflective of the movie’s themes of life, death, and the power of music to bridge the gap between the two. Soul won the 93rd Academy Award for best “Original Score”.

2010s Winners

Joker – Hildur Gu冒nad贸ttir

The soundtrack for Joker (2019) is a haunting, atmospheric, and moody blend of classical, jazz, and electronic music. The score is composed by Hildur Gu冒nad贸ttir, a composer who has worked extensively in the film and television industry and is best known for her work on the TV series Chernobyl and Sicario: Day of the Soldado.

Her score for Joker is a dark and brooding mix of strings, brass, and percussion, featuring ominous and melancholic melodies. The soundtrack also features classic jazz, blues, and rock songs as well as original electronic music created specifically for the film, all of which give the film its unique atmosphere. Joker won the 92nd Academy Award for best “Original Score”.

Black Panther – Ludwig G枚ransson

The Black Panther (2018) movie soundtrack is a thunderous collection of hip-hop, soul, and traditional African music that captures the spirit of Wakanda. The soundtrack features original music from Kendrick Lamar, SZA, The Weeknd, and Vince Staples, as well as classic tracks from artists like Run the Jewels, Anderson .Paak, and Baaba Maal.

The album also includes a stirring orchestral score composed by the legendary Ludwig G枚ransson. Together, these powerful tracks create a sonic landscape that honors the richness of African culture and the power of the Black Panther. Black Panther won the 91st Academy Award for best “Original Score”.

The Shape of Water – Alexandre Desplat

The score for the film The Shape of Water (2017) was composed by Alexandre Desplat. The music is heavily steeped in the film’s setting of the 1960s, with a blend of jazz, soul, and classical music.

It is a beautiful and romantic score, featuring lush strings, jazzy improvisations, and subtle electronic textures. Desplat’s score is both haunting and romantic, creating a unique atmosphere that perfectly captures the film’s emotional journey. The Shape of Water won the 90th Academy Award for best “Original Score”.

La La Land – Justin Hurwitz

La La Land is a 2016 musical romantic comedy-drama film written and directed by Damien Chazelle. The film’s score was composed and orchestrated by Justin Hurwitz, with the orchestrations mainly handled by Tim Simonec and additional orchestrations by J. A. C. Redford. The score prominently features a full orchestra, with a heavy emphasis on jazz, swing, and French influences.

The score is characterized by its lighthearted melodies and vibrant rhythms, with a few melancholy pieces mixed in. The music is often used to enhance the film’s romantic moments, such as the song “City of Stars”, which is used to underscore Mia and Seb’s dreamy, starry night dance on the planetarium roof. Other notable songs include “Another Day of Sun”, “Someone in the Crowd”, and “Audition (The Fools Who Dream)”. La La Land won the 89th Academy Award for best “Original Score”.

The Hateful Eight – Ennio Morricone

The score for The Hateful Eight (2015) was composed by legendary composer Ennio Morricone, making it his first Western score in over 40 years. Morricone鈥檚 score is a dark and powerful mix of orchestral and choral arrangements. The score is reminiscent of his classic Western scores like The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, but with a modern twist.

Featuring a large orchestra, choir, and a selection of Morricone鈥檚 own compositions, the score is full of tension, suspense and drama. The soundtrack also features some of Morricone鈥檚 more modern works, like his theme from The Untouchables, as well as his classic themes from The Mission and Cinema Paradiso.

The Hateful Eight won the 88th Academy Award for best “Original Score”.

The Grand Budapest Hotel – Alexandre Desplat

The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014)movie score is composed by Alexandre Desplat, and is a light, whimsical, and subtly adventurous score. It features a variety of instruments, including strings, woodwinds and brass, as well as a range of styles from traditional orchestral music to jazz and tango.

The score creates an atmosphere of nostalgia and whimsy, and is perfect for accompanying the film’s quirky, offbeat characters and storyline. The Grand Budapest Hotel won the 87th Academy Award for best “Original Score”.

Gravity – Steven Price

The score of the movie Gravity (2013) is composed by Steven Price and was generally praised by critics and audiences alike. The score has a very ethereal, haunting, and minimalistic feel to it that perfectly complements the movie’s visual and emotional themes. The score also helps to create an atmosphere of tension, mystery, and suspense that perfectly captures the film’s overall tone.

In addition to its use of ambient sounds, the score also utilizes piano and orchestra to provide moments of clarity and resolution. Gravity won the 86th Academy Award for best “Original Score”.

Life of Pi – Mychael Danna

The Life of Pi (2012) movie score is composed by Mychael Danna, and is a beautiful, haunting, and powerful score that perfectly complements the stunning visuals of the movie. It ranges from gentle, ethereal sounds to bombastic and emotionally charged pieces.

The score is also highly influenced by Indian classical music as well as modern production techniques. It features distinctively Indian instruments such as the santoor, tabla, and sitar, as well as a choral element. The pieces are both daring and delicate, and the score effectively conveys the journey of the main character, Pi, as he faces his challenges and discovers his true purpose. The Life of Pi won the 85th Academy Award for best “Original Score”.

The Artist – Ludovic Bource

The score for The Artist (2011) is a mix of traditional orchestral elements and classic Hollywood-style music. It is composed by Ludovic Bource and features themes inspired by the era in which the film is set.

The score is melodic and emotive, featuring a sweeping main theme that is featured throughout the film, as well as occasional moments of suspense and levity. The score also contains brief period references, such as a 1920s-style jazz number and a few cues that evoke the sound of a silent movie. The Artist won the 84th Academy Award for best “Original Score”.

The Social Network – Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross

The Social Network is a 2010 American biographical drama film directed by David Fincher. The film’s score was composed by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross.
The score for The Social Network is a dark, ambient, and minimalistic blend of electronic and classical music.

Reznor and Ross stated that the soundtrack is “a heady mix of orchestral textures and chilled-out electronica”. The score features a variety of instruments and sounds, including synthesizers, strings, and piano. The Social Network won the 83th Academy Award for best “Original Score”.

2000s Winners

Up – Michael Giacchino

The score for the movie Up (2009) is an instrumental score composed by Michael Giacchino. It is an uplifting, orchestral score that uses a mix of choral and electronic elements. The themes in the score often emphasize the themes of adventure and exploration, while also providing a sense of emotional resonance.

The score has received positive reviews from critics, with many noting its ability to draw out the emotions of the characters and bring the audience into the world of the movie. The Pixar film Up won the 82th Academy Award for best “Original Score”.

Slumdog Millionaire – A. R. Rahman

Slumdog Millionaire (2008) is an Academy Award-winning British drama film directed by Danny Boyle and written by Simon Beaufoy. The film follows the story of Jamal Malik, a street kid from the slums of Mumbai, India, who appears on the Hindi version of the game show Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? and surprises everyone by being able to answer every question correctly.

The score for Slumdog Millionaire was composed by Academy Award winner A. R. Rahman and was praised for its mix of traditional Indian music with contemporary western music. Slumdog MIllionaire won the 81st Academy Award for best “Original Score”.

Atonement – Dario Marianelli

The score for the 2007 British film Atonement was composed by Dario Marianelli and performed by the English Chamber Orchestra. It is a lush, romantic score that perfectly captures the film’s romantic and tragic themes. The score has a classical feel to it, with a variety of instruments and sounds that are often used in classical music.

The main theme is a beautiful, sweeping piano melody that is used throughout the film. The music conveys a sense of yearning and longing, as well as a haunting, emotional quality that perfectly captures the film’s themes of love, loss and redemption. Atonement won the 80th Academy Award for best “Original Score”.

Babel – Gustavo Santaolalla

The Babel (2006) movie score is described as an emotionally charged, melancholy soundtrack. Composed by Gustavo Santaolalla, the score includes a mix of orchestral sounds and electronic elements to mirror the film’s complex story of interconnected lives and cultures.

The score reflects the film’s themes of loss, longing, and connection, as well as its shifting locations and moods. It captures the emotional undercurrent of the story while still providing a subtle backdrop to the action. Babel won the 79th Academy Award for best “Original Score”.

Brokeback Mountain – Gustavo Santaolalla

Brokeback Mountain (2005) is an Academy Award-winning American romantic drama film directed by Ang Lee and based on the 1997 short story of the same name by Annie Proulx. The music for the film was composed by Gustavo Santaolalla. Santaolalla’s score is a sparse one, primarily consisting of guitar and percussion instruments, with occasional string and woodwind parts.

The main theme of the film is a haunting guitar melody, which is used in various iterations throughout the film. Brokeback Mountain won the 78th Academy Award for best “Original Score”.

Finding Neverland – Jan A. P. Kaczmarek

The music for the film Finding Neverland (2004) was composed by Jan A.P. Kaczmarek, who also composed the score for the Academy Award-winning film Lost in Translation. The score is a blend of orchestral and chamber music, with the majority of the score being orchestral, and featuring a large string section.

The music is mostly light and optimistic, with a few darker moments to convey the characters’ emotions and struggles. The score also incorporates elements of Edwardian music, to reflect the era in which the film is set. Finding Neverland won the 77th Academy Award for best “Original Score”.

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King – Howard Shore

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003) is the final part of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Its accompanying soundtrack was composed by Howard Shore and was released in 2003. The score is an epic mix of orchestral, choral and electronic elements, often combining the various elements to create a powerful and emotional sound.

The score contains themes that are both heroic and sorrowful, with a strong emphasis on the fellowship of the Ring and the journey of the characters. The score also includes a number of songs, including the beautiful 鈥淚nto the West,鈥 which was performed by Annie Lennox. The Return of the King won the 76th Academy Award for best “Original Score”.

Frida – Elliot Goldenthal

The score for the movie Frida (2002) is a vibrant, dynamic, and eclectic mix of traditional Mexican music, modern Latin rhythms, and classical influences. It features original music by composer Gustavo Santaolalla and traditional Mexican songs performed by renowned Mexican folk musicians.

The soundtrack also features some of the best-known songs of Mexican legend Chavela Vargas, who died shortly after the movie鈥檚 release. The score is colorful and joyous, capturing the spirit of Mexico and the life of Frida Kahlo. Frida won the 75th Academy Award for best “Original Score”.

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring – Howard Shore

The score for The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001) was composed by Howard Shore. The music is said to be an example of “epic” film music and is highly praised for its complexity and powerful emotional impact.

The score features a combination of traditional orchestral instruments, choral pieces, and soundscapes. It includes a range of styles from Celtic and Middle Eastern music to sweeping, heroic themes. In addition to winning a Grammy, the score was also included in the American Film Institute’s list of the top 100 movie scores of all time. The Fellowship of the Ring won the 74th Academy Award for best “Original Score”.

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon – Tan Dun

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000) is an Academy Award-winning soundtrack composed by Tan Dun and performed by Yo-Yo Ma and the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra. The score features a mix of traditional Chinese instruments, including the erhu, pipa, and percussion, along with western instruments like the cello and piano.

The music is largely based on the traditional Chinese pentatonic scale with occasional touches of Western harmony. The score is notable for its use of silence as a form of tension and emotion, as well as its incorporation of traditional Chinese themes. The score conveys a sense of epic adventure, romance, and sorrow, as well as a reverence for nature. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon won the 73rd Academy Award for best “Original Score”.

1990s Winners

The Red Violin – John Corigliano

The Red Violin (1999) is a Canadian film directed by Fran莽ois Girard that tells the story of a mysterious violin and its many owners over the course of several centuries. The film’s score was composed by John Corigliano, and is an eclectic mix of classical music, folk music, and modern orchestral pieces.

Corigliano draws upon the musical style of several countries and eras, using musical elements from France, Italy, Germany, and other countries. He uses traditional instruments like the violin and cello, as well as modern instruments like synthesizers and samplers. The Red Violin won the 72nd Academy Award for best “Original Score”.

Shakespeare in Love – Stephen Warbeck

The score for the romantic comedy Shakespeare in Love (1998) was composed by Stephen Warbeck and performed by the London Symphony Orchestra. The score was designed to reflect the playfulness and romance of the film, as well as its setting in Elizabethan England.

It features a variety of instrumentation, including strings, flutes, recorders, harpsichord, and percussion. The score also utilizes traditional Elizabethan music, as well as some Renaissance-era musical influences. The soundtrack includes a number of original pieces, as well as some traditional English folk songs. Shakespeare in Love won the 71st Academy Award for best “Original Musical or Comedy Score”.

Life is Beautiful – Nicola Piovani

The score of the film Life Is Beautiful (1997) was composed by Nicola Piovani. It features a large ensemble of classical and contemporary instruments, including strings, woodwinds, brass, and percussion.

The score features a combination of traditional Italian folk music, classical music, and more modern elements. The movie’s main theme is a sweeping, romantic melody that is heard throughout the film in various guises. The music also contains moments of great joy, sadness, and suspense. Life is Beautiful won the 71st Academy Award for best “Original Dramatic Score”.

The Full Monty – Anne Dudley

The score for The Full Monty (1997) was composed by Anne Dudley. The score is best known for its upbeat and catchy use of brass instruments and electric guitars.

The soundtrack features a unique blend of rock, jazz, and classical elements, creating an eclectic, playful atmosphere. It also includes some soulful ballads and tender love songs. The Full Monty won the 70th Academy Award for best “Original Musical or Comedy Score”.

Titanic – James Horner

The Titanic (1997) movie score is one of the most iconic and recognizable scores in film history. Composed by James Horner, the score has become an instantly recognizable part of the movie and is beloved by millions of fans worldwide. It’s a sweeping and romantic score that perfectly captures the tragedy and beauty of the film.

The Titanic score includes some of the most iconic songs from the movie, such as the heartbreaking 鈥淢y Heart Will Go On鈥 and the powerful 鈥淗ymn to the Sea.鈥 The score has been praised for its emotional depth, and its ability to bring the story to life for viewers. Titanic won the 70th Academy Award for best “Original Dramatic Score”.

Emma – Rachel Portman

Emma (1996) is a romantic comedy-drama starring Gwyneth Paltrow. The critics consensus reads: “Emma is a delightfully entertaining adaptation of Jane Austen’s classic novel, with a bright, energetic screenplay and a star-studded cast that enlivens the proceedings.”

Rachel Portman’s score for Emma is a perfect fit for the film. She was the first woman composer to win an Academy Award for best “Original Musical or Comedy Score”, which she won at the 69th ceremony.

The English Patient – Gabriel Yared

The English Patient (1996) is a romantic drama film directed by Anthony Minghella. The film’s score is composed by Gabriel Yared, and employs a lush, romantic symphonic sound, utilizing a full orchestra and a variety of traditional instruments such as mandolin and oud.

The main theme, a recurring motif, is a hauntingly beautiful love duet between a violin and cello, which is used to underscore the film’s central love story. Other recurring elements of the score are the use of mandolin to evoke a Mediterranean setting, and the use of oud to reflect the film’s Middle Eastern setting and themes. The English Patient won the 69th Academy Award for best “Original Dramatic Score”.

Pocahontas – Alan Menken & Stephen Schwartz

The score for Disney’s animated film Pocahontas (1995) is composed by Alan Menken, and features instrumental and vocal performances from some of the most renowned musicians in the industry.

The main theme of the score is the “Colors of the Wind,” which is sung by Vanessa Williams. This song is used throughout the movie to represent Pocahontas’s connection to nature, and her journey to find her true self. Pocahontas won the 68th Academy Award for best “Original Musical or Comedy Score”.

The Postman (Il Postino) – Luis Bacalov

The score of the movie Il Postino (1994) is composed by Luis Bacalov. It is an instrumental score that combines traditional Italian folk music with modern classical music. The score is full of emotion and has a warm, gentle feel to it. The themes range from light and playful to melancholic and reflective.

The most prominent themes are the main theme, which is a beautiful melody that is played throughout the movie, and the love theme, which is a gorgeous and romantic piece. The score has a lot of emotion and beauty, and it perfectly captures the atmosphere of the movie. Il Postino won the 68th Academy Award for best “Original Dramatic Score”.

The Lion King – Hans Zimmer

The score for The Lion King (1994) was composed by Hans Zimmer and features a mix of African-inspired music with modern orchestral pieces. It contains a number of choral pieces that are performed by a large choir and feature a variety of African languages.

The instrumentation is largely made up of traditional African instruments such as drums and xylophones, as well as more modern instruments like synthesizers. The score also features a number of Elton John’s songs, which all fit in seamlessly with the African-inspired music. The Lion King won best “Original Musical or Comedy Score” at the 67th Academy Award ceremony.

Schindler’s List – John Williams

The score for Schindler’s List (1993)was composed and conducted by John Williams and was performed by the violinist Itzhak Perlman. The music is primarily sad, melancholic, and mournful, with a minimalistic and sparse quality.

The score features a solo violin, often playing slow and sorrowful melodies. At other times, it features a more upbeat, whimsical tune. The score also features a choral chant, representing the Jewish victims of the Holocaust. Schindler’s List won the 66th Academy Award for best “Original Score”.

The main theme in Schindler’s List also has a popular classical guitar arrangement.

Aladdin – Alan Menken

The score for Disney’s Aladdin (1992) was composed by Alan Menken and featured music by Tim Rice. The score features a mix of traditional Middle Eastern music and Western motifs, featuring instruments such as woodwinds, brass, strings, and percussion.

The score has catchy melodies and upbeat rhythms. Aladdin won the 65th Academy Award for best “Original Score”.

Beauty and the Beast – Alan Menken

Beauty and the Beast (1991) has a beautiful and memorable score composed by Alan Menken. The score features a range of styles, from hauntingly beautiful ballads to sweeping orchestral pieces.

Themes of love, loss, and redemption are woven throughout the score, highlighted by the iconic title song, “Beauty and the Beast”. Other notable tracks include “Belle”, “Be Our Guest”, and “Gaston”. The score won the 64th Academy Award for Best “Original Score”.

Dances with Wolves – John Barry

The score for the film Dances with Wolves (1990) was composed by John Barry, and it features a mix of both western-style instrumentation and traditional Native American musical elements. The score is both sweeping and epic, featuring a mix of orchestral and electronic sounds, as well as traditional Native American instruments such as flutes, drums, and chanting.

The score is best known for its stirring main theme, which is often used to represent the film鈥檚 themes of courage and determination. Other notable tracks include 鈥淭he John Dunbar Theme鈥, which represents the character鈥檚 journey, as well as 鈥淭he Love Theme鈥 represents the romance between Dunbar and the Native American woman Stands With A Fist. Dances with Wolves won the 63rd Academy Award for best “Original Score”.

1980s Winners

The Little Mermaid – Alan Menken

The score for The Little Mermaid (1989) was composed by Academy Award-winning composer Alan Menken. It features a blend of classic Broadway musical elements, including sweeping orchestral pieces, as well as upbeat, jazzy numbers.

The score is heavily influenced by the works of Gilbert and Sullivan, and includes the memorable songs “Under the Sea” and “Part of Your World.” The Artist won the 62nd Academy Award for best “Original Score”.

The Milagro Beanfield War – Dave Grusin

The score for The Milagro Beanfield War (1988) was composed and conducted by Dave Grusin, and performed by the London Symphony Orchestra. It is a dramatic score, with a strong Latin flavor, incorporating traditional Mexican and Spanish instruments, including accordion, vihuela and guitar.

The music is a blend of modern and traditional sounds, with a combination of upbeat and reflective tunes. The themes are mostly melodic and memorable, and they capture the spirit of the movie’s story. The Milagro Beanfield War won the 61st Academy Award for best “Original Score”.

The Last Emperor – Ryuichi Sakamoto, David Byrne & Cong Su

The Last Emperor is a 1987 epic historical drama film directed by Bernardo Bertolucci which tells the story of the life and reign of the last emperor of China, Puyi. The movie features a beautiful and evocative score composed by Grammy and Academy Award-winning composer Ryuichi Sakamoto, which is considered a masterpiece of world music.

The score reflects the grandeur of the Chinese Empire, blending ancient Chinese instruments and melodies with modern electronic elements. It includes the haunting song “Forbidden Colours” which is performed by David Sylvian. The Last Emperor won the 60th Academy Award for best “Original Score”.

Round Midnight – Herbie Hancock

Round Midnight (1986) is an American-French musical drama film directed by Bertrand Tavernier and written by Tavernier and David Rayfiel. The score for Round Midnight is a beautiful blend of jazz, classical, and modern music.

Hancock uses a wide range of instruments, from tenor saxophone to synthesizers and strings, to create a rich and lush soundscape. The music is often a mix of melancholy and joy, as it reflects the life of the main character, Dale Turner, a bebop saxophonist struggling with his demons and relationships. The soundtrack also includes some classic jazz tunes such as 鈥淩ound Midnight,鈥 鈥淏ody and Soul,鈥 and 鈥淪tardust.鈥 Round Midnight won the 59th Academy Award for best “Original Score”.

Out of Africa – John Barry

The score for the 1985 film Out of Africa was composed by John Barry and won him the 58th Academy Award for best Original Score. The score is swelling and emotive, combining African themes and orchestral elements to create a poignant, romantic soundscape.

The soundtrack also featured a vocal performance by South African singer Miriam Makeba.

Purple Rain – Prince

The score of the movie Purple Rain (1984) is composed and performed by Prince, and his band The Revolution. It features many of Prince’s hit songs from the era, as well as some instrumental pieces composed by him specifically for the film.

The score is powerful and emotional. The music ranges from upbeat funk and rock to slower, more introspective ballads. It is also notable for its integration of a wide range of musical styles, from R&B and soul to electronic and pop. Purple Rain won the 57th Academy Award for best “Original Song Score”.

A Passage to India – Maurice Jarre

The score for the film A Passage to India (1984) is composed by Maurice Jarre and is an example of his signature style of creating grand and sweeping scores. The music is evocative of the exotic and often dangerous world of India, with its unique culture and customs.

The score features a variety of instruments such as sitar, tabla, sarangi, and other traditional Indian instruments. The main theme, “The Grand Tour,” has a lush orchestral sound that you can hear throughout the film. Other memorable tracks include “My Friend,” “The Mosque,” “The Marabar Caves,” and “Taj Mahal.” A Passage to India won the 57th Academy Award for best “Original Score”.

Yentl – Michel Legrand & Alan & Marilyn Bergman

The score for the film Yentl (1983) was composed by Michel Legrand. It is an eclectic mix of jazz, classical, and traditional Jewish music, reflecting the film’s themes of identity, tradition, and love.

The score features Legrand’s signature jazz-inspired style as well as traditional klezmer music. The main theme is a romantic ballad performed by Barbra Streisand, “Papa, Can You Hear Me?”. The score also includes a number of orchestral pieces, including the stirring “Yentl’s Theme” and the lighthearted “The Crossing”. Yentl won the 56th Academy Award for best “Original Song Score and Its Adaptation or Adaptation Score”.

The Right Stuff – Bill Conti

The Right Stuff (1983) is an American epic historical drama film directed by Philip Kaufman and adapted by Kaufman and William Goldman from Tom Wolfe’s 1979 book The Right Stuff. The film’s score was composed by Bill Conti.

Conti’s score is a sweeping orchestral work that uses a variety of instruments, including strings, brass, and choir. The main theme is a heroic and uplifting fanfare that pays homage to the pioneering spirit of the Mercury astronauts. The Right Stuff won the 56th Academy Award for best “Original Score”.

Victor/Victoria – Henry Mancini & Leslie Bricusse

Victor/Victoria (1982) is an American musical comedy-drama film directed by Blake Edwards, starring Julie Andrews and James Garner, and written by Blake Edwards with music by Henry Mancini and lyrics by Leslie Bricusse.

Victor/Victoria is an uplifting and joyous musical, with a score that is incredibly catchy and memorable. Mancini’s music is both romantic and energetic, with a classic Broadway sound, while Bricusse鈥檚 lyrics are witty and clever. The score won the 55th Academy Award for best “Original Song Score and Its Adaptation or Adaptation Score”.

E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial – John Williams

The score for the film E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982) was composed and conducted by John Williams. Williams’ score has been praised for its memorable melody and its emotional depth. The score features a number of iconic themes and motifs, such as the main theme, the E.T. theme, the flying theme, the adventure theme, and the communication theme.

One of the most famous pieces of the score is the use of the chimes that signify E.T.’s presence. The score is also notable for its use of a synthesizer, which was used to create the sounds of E.T.’s voice and to emulate the alien’s perspective. E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial won the 55th Academy Award for best “Original Score”.

Chariots of Fire – Vangelis

The score for the film Chariots of Fire (1981) was composed by Vangelis and was released on the Polydor label. The score’s title theme is a minimalist electronic piece which has become an iconic piece of popular culture.

The score also includes a variety of other styles, including classical music and jazz, as well as traditional hymns and folk songs. Chariots of Fire won the 54th Academy Award for best “Original Score”.

Fame – Michael Gore

The score for Fame (1980) was composed and conducted by Michael Gore and includes a mix of funk, soul, and disco music. The title song, 鈥淔ame鈥, was performed by Irene Cara and was released as a single, reaching number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

The score also features instrumental tracks, such as 鈥淗ot Lunch Jam鈥, 鈥淥ut Here on My Own鈥, and 鈥淭ears of a Woman鈥. The soundtrack also includes two versions of the classic song 鈥淚 Sing the Body Electric鈥, performed by Irene Cara and the cast of the film. Fame won the 53rd Academy Award for best “Original Score”.

1970s Winners

All That Jazz – Ralph Burns

The score for the musical drama All That Jazz (1979) was composed and produced by Ralph Burns. It features a variety of musical styles, from orchestral waltzes to jazz, funk, and rock and roll. The score has a distinct Broadway and jazz-influenced sound with lush orchestral arrangements, funky rhythm sections and sweeping strings.

Some of the highlights include the upbeat opening number “On Broadway”, the melancholic “Goodbye, Eddie, Goodbye”, the soulful “Lonely Town”, the sweeping “Theme from All That Jazz”, and the jazzy “Razzamatazz”. All That Jazz won the 52nd Academy Award for best “Original Song Score and Its Adaptation or Adapatation Score”.

A Little Romance – Georges Delerue

The score for A Little Romance (1979) was composed by Georges Delerue, who was an award-winning French composer. The soundtrack has a romantic, classical feel to it, with the main theme being a light, airy and whimsical waltz.

The score also includes some jazz elements and a few contemporary touches, such as electric guitar and synthesizer. The soundtrack features lush strings, piano, harpsichord, flute, and a variety of other instruments. A Little Romance won the 52nd Academy Award for best “Original Score”.

The Buddy Holly Story – Joe Renzetti

The score for the Buddy Holly Story (1978) is a combination of traditional rock and roll, country and western, and jazz. It features a number of Buddy Holly’s classic songs, including “That’ll Be the Day,” “Oh Boy,” “Rave On,” and “Peggy Sue,” among others.

These pieces underscore the narrative and provide an emotional backdrop to the story. The score is upbeat and uplifting, emphasizing the joy of Buddy Holly’s music and the beauty of his life. The Buddy Holly Story won the 51st Academy Award for best “Adaptation Score”.

Midnight Express – Giorgio Moroder

The Midnight Express (1978) soundtrack is an iconic score composed by Giorgio Moroder. The score is an electronic-influenced synth-pop soundtrack, which was quite revolutionary for its time. It has become a classic, and is credited with pioneering the use of synthesizers in film scores.

The soundtrack鈥檚 most recognizable track is the title song, which features a driving beat, pulsating bassline, and haunting vocals by Blondie鈥檚 Deborah Harry. The score also features several instrumental tracks, including the tense 鈥淢ain Title鈥 and the melancholic 鈥淟ove鈥檚 Theme.鈥 Midnight Express won the 51st Academy Award for best “Original Score”.

A Little Night Music – Jonathan Tunick

The score for the film adaptation of A Little Night Music (1977) is a lush and romantic classical score composed by Jonathan Tunick. It features sweeping melodies and delicate orchestral arrangements, which perfectly capture the mood and emotion of the source material.

Overall, the score has a very romantic and wistful feel. However, there’s a hint of melancholy in the music, which adds to the film鈥檚 overall romantic atmosphere. A Little Night Music won the 50th Academy Award for best “Original Song Score and Its Adaptation or Adaptation Score”.

Star Wars: A New Hope – John Williams

The score for Star Wars (1977) was composed by John Williams. It is considered one of the most influential film scores in history and has been highly praised for its sweeping epic sound and its iconic themes. The score combined traditional orchestral instruments with electronic synthesizers to create a unique soundscape.

Williams’ score also helped to establish the conventions of modern movie music, such as the “heroic fanfare” and the use of leitmotifs. The score includes some of the most recognizable music ever written for film, including the “Main Title”. Star Wars won the 50th Academy Award for best “Original Score”.

Bound for Glory – Leonard Rosenman

The score for the movie Bound For Glory (1976)was composed by Leonard Rosenman. The score was highly praised by critics, and won the 49th Academy Award for Best Original Music Score. It features a combination of orchestral and traditional American folk music by Woody Guthrie, with a strong emphasis on acoustic guitar and harmonica.

The score uses the spiritual “Oh, Freedom” to musically depict the struggles and hopes of the Dust Bowl refugees.

The Omen – Jerry Goldsmith

The Omen (1976) movie score is a haunting, orchestral soundtrack composed by Jerry Goldsmith. It features a mix of dark and foreboding melodies, often using dissonant chords and creepy sound effects.

The score mostly features a large orchestra, with some choral passages. It has become iconic for its use of the tritone interval, otherwise known as the “Devil’s interval” due to its unsettling sound. The score has a stunning ability to build tension and suspense, making it an ideal accompaniment to the horror movie. The Omen won the 49th Academy Award for best “Original Score”.

Barry Lyndon – Leonard Rosenman

Barry Lyndon (1975) is a British-American period drama film written, produced, and directed by Stanley Kubrick. The score for the film was composed and conducted by Leonard Rosenman. It features a unique combination of classical and contemporary music, mixing Baroque and Romantic-era pieces with a modern sound.

The main theme is a variation on the traditional Irish melody “The Girl I Left Behind Me”, which repeats throughout the film in various instrumental arrangements. The soundtrack also includes several pieces by Johann Sebastian Bach and George Frideric Handel, as well as some English folksongs by the Cheiftains. Barry Lyndon won the 48th Academy Award for best “Scoring: Original Song Score and Adaptation or Scoring: Adaptation”.

Jaws – John Williams

The score for the classic film Jaws (1975) was composed by legendary film composer John Williams. It is a classic example of his work, and has become one of the most recognizable soundtracks in movie history.

The score’s simple but effective two-note motif (a minor 2nd) creates tension and suspense. Williams also makes use of a variety of percussive instruments, including the xylophone, to create a sense of fear and dread. Jaws won the 48th Academy Award for best “Original Score”.

The Great Gatsby – Nelson Riddle

The Great Gatsby (1974) scored by Nelson Riddle is a lush and sophisticated symphonic score that captures the opulence and decadence of the Jazz Age.

The sweeping orchestrations, featuring lush strings, sultry saxophone, and jazzy piano, evoke the romanticism and nostalgia of the Roaring Twenties. The Great Gatsby won the 47th Academy Award for best “Scoring: Original Song Score and Adaptation or Scoring: Adaptation”.

The Godfather Part II – Nino Rota & Carmine Coppola

The score for The Godfather Part II (1974) was composed by Nino Rota and was written in the style of a traditional Italian opera. The score is full of lush, romantic strings and horns, as well as moments of tension and drama.

The theme is a slow, melancholic piece, which is often heard in the most emotionally charged moments of the movie. The Godfather Part II won the 47th Academy Award for best “Original Dramatic Score”.

The Sting – Marvin Hamlisch

The Sting (1973) is an iconic American caper film directed by George Roy Hill, starring Robert Redford and Paul Newman. The music for the film was composed by Marvin Hamlisch, and its score was conducted by Maurice Jarre. The score for The Sting is a mix of jazz, ragtime, and traditional orchestral music. It includes a number of familiar tunes, such as “The Entertainer” and “Ode to Joy”.

The score also features a unique blend of instruments, including a full orchestra, muted trumpets, and a ragtime piano. The music helps to create a sense of tension and excitement as the characters scheme and plot their way to a successful con. The Sting won the 46th Academy Award for best “Scoring: Original Song Score and Adaptation or Scoring: Adaptation”.

The Way We Were – Marvin Hamlisch

The score for the romantic drama The Way We Were (1973) was composed by Marvin Hamlisch. The film stars Barbara Streisand and Robert Redford. It is primarily a orchestral score, featuring strings, woodwinds, brass, and a jazz combo.

The score incorporates a romantic, melodic style, with a recurring theme that symbolizes the main characters’ love. The Way We Were won the 46th Academy Award for best “Original Dramatic Score”.

Cabaret – Ralph Burns

The score of Cabaret (1972) is a mix of jazz, pop, and traditional German-style music that reflects the decadence and political upheaval of the time. The music is composed by John Kander, with lyrics by Fred Ebb, and is full of dark undertones and sarcastic wit. Many of the songs, such as “Cabaret,” “Mein Herr,” and “Maybe This Time,” are performed by lead characters in the film.

Cabaret won the 45th Academy Award for best “Scoring: Original Song Score and Adaptation or Scoring: Adaptation”. Today, critics still widely consider it to be one of the greatest musical scores in history.

Limelight – Charlie Chaplin, Raymond Rasch & Larry Russell

Limelight is a 1952 comedy-drama film directed by Charlie Chaplin, however it had never screened theatrically in Los Angeles until 1972. The film has been praised for its beautiful cinematography and its poignant story. The music score for the film was composed by Chaplin himself, and features a mix of classical and jazz pieces.

The score is lighthearted and whimsical, and helps to create a cheerful and optimistic atmosphere. It also serves to add to the drama of certain scenes, and to create a sense of longing or nostalgia in others. Limelight won the 45th Academy Award for best “Original Dramatic Score”.

Fiddler on the Roof – John Williams

The score of the musical film Fiddler on the Roof (1971) is composed by John Williams and it features a range of musical styles, from traditional Jewish klezmer and folk songs to classical music. The score includes various musical motifs that repeat throughout the film, such as “Tradition”, “Matchmaker, Matchmaker” and “If I Were a Rich Man”.

The soundtrack album also includes several original songs written by Williams and traditional folk songs, including “Sunrise, Sunset” and “L’Chaim!”. Round Midnight won the 44th Academy Award for best “Scoring: Original Song Score and Adaptation or Scoring: Adaptation”.

Summer of ’42 – Michel Legrand

The score for the 1971 film Summer of ’42 is a melancholic and nostalgic one. Composed by Michel Legrand, the score is characterized by a romantic, sweeping orchestral sound. The main theme of the score is a hauntingly beautiful melody that evokes feelings of longing, innocence, and nostalgia for summer days gone by.

Other prominent themes used throughout the score are those of loneliness, innocence, and hope. Legrand also makes frequent use of French Horns and Oboes to create a wistful and romantic atmosphere. Summer of ’42 won the 44th Academy Award for best “Original Dramatic Score”.

Let It Be – The Beatles

The film score for the 1970 movie Let It Be was composed by Sir Paul McCartney and produced by George Martin. The score consists of a mix of original compositions and various Beatles songs from their back catalogue, such as “Let It Be,” “Across the Universe,” “The Long and Winding Road,” and “Get Back.”

The score makes remarkable use of orchestral instruments, such as strings and brass, as well as acoustic guitar and piano. Let It Be won the 43rd Academy Award for best “Original Song Score”.

Love Story – Francis Lai

The score for Love Story (1970) was composed by Francis Lai and contains a variety of romantic, melodic themes. The main theme is a slow, haunting and romantic piece that has become one of the most recognizable themes in film music.

Other memorable themes include the cheerful “Snow Frolic,” and the dramatic “Finale.” Love Story won the 43rd Academy Award for best “Original Score”.

1960s Winners

Hello, Dolly! – Lennie Hayton & Lionel Newman

The musical score of the 1969 film adaptation of Hello Dolly! incorporates a range of musical styles from jazz and show tunes to a traditional orchestra score. The main title song, written by Jerry Herman, is a jaunty, upbeat tune that sets the tone for the rest of the film.

The score also includes some of Herman’s more popular Broadway show tunes, including “Put On Your Sunday Clothes,” “Before the Parade Passes By,” and “Ribbons Down My Back.” Hello Dolly! won the 42nd Academy Award for best “Scoring of a Musical Picture 鈥 Original or Adaptation”.

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid – Burt Bacharach

The score for Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid is an iconic blend of Americana and lighthearted adventure. Composed by Burt Bacharach and Hal David, the score features lighthearted string, brass, and woodwind instruments, as well as acoustic guitar, banjo, and harmonica.

The main theme, “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head”, is a classic piece of American pop music. The music effectively captures the adventure and mystery of the movie, as well as the growing bond between its two protagonists. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid won the 42nd Academy Award for best “Original Score 鈥 For a Motion Picture (Not a Musical)”.

Oliver! – Johnny Green

The score for the 1968 film adaptation of Oliver! is a mix of classical and popular music. The score features several well-known songs, including “Food, Glorious Food,” “Where Is Love?,” “Consider Yourself,” and “As Long As He Needs Me.”

The score also includes a few orchestral pieces, such as the opening march, the dramatic overture, and the finale. Oliver! won the 41st Academy Award for best “Scoring of a Musical Picture 鈥 Original or Adaptation”.

The Lion in Winter – John Barry

The score for The Lion in Winter (1968) is composed by John Barry and is an orchestral score that combines elements of traditional medieval music and classical music, as well as modern elements. The instrumental tracks are often quite vibrant and feature lively string sections and soaring woodwinds.

There are also some darker, more contemplative pieces that emphasize the drama of the film. The score also features some vocal performances, including a haunting rendition of the traditional English folk song “Greensleeves.” The Lion in Winter won the 41st Academy Award for best “Original Score 鈥 For a Motion Picture (Not a Musical)”.

Camelot – Ken Darby & Alfred Newman

The score for the musical film Camelot (1967) was composed by legendary composer Alan Jay Lerner with lyrics by Lerner and Frederick Loewe. However, the score won the 40th Academy Award for Best Scoring of Music 鈥 Adaptation or Treatment”.

The lush and romantic makes use of traditional orchestral instruments, as well as harpsichord and other period instruments. The score also contains songs such as 鈥淚f Ever I Would Leave You鈥, 鈥淐鈥檈st Moi鈥, 鈥淲hat Do the Simple Folk Do?鈥, and 鈥淚 Loved You Once in Silence.鈥

Thoroughly Modern Millie – Elmer Bernstein

The score for the musical film Thoroughly Modern Millie (1967) consists of a combination of period pieces from the 1920s and original compositions by composer Elmer Bernstein. The score is full of upbeat jazz, ragtime and big band numbers that capture the spirit of the Roaring Twenties.

Some of the standout tracks include “Gimme Gimme,” a rousing show-stopper with a memorable chorus, “Jazz Baby,” a playful and lighthearted ragtime piece, and “Jimmy,” a romantic jazz number that perfectly captures the charm and romance of the era. Thoroughly Modern Millie won the 40th Academy Award for best “Original Music Score”.

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum – Ken Thorne

The score of the movie A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (1966) is composed by Stephen Sondheim. However, Ken Thorne won the 39th Academy Award for best “Scoring of Music 鈥 Adaptation or Treatment”. The score consists of a mix of musical numbers, including both upbeat and romantic ballads.

The musical numbers are often humorous and feature clever lyrics. The score has an old-fashioned Broadway feel, with its use of lively ragtime and classical waltz pieces.

Born Free – John Barry

The score for the 1966 film Born Free was composed by John Barry and arranged by Lionel Newman. Born Free won the 39th Academy Award for best “Original Music Score”.

The score reflects the beauty of the African landscape, and prominently features strings and brass. Additionally, there are elements of jazz and African rhythms present in the music, and several of the songs feature vocals by Matt Monro.

The Sound of Music – Irwin Kostal

The Sound of Music (1965) is an American musical film directed by Robert Wise and starring Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer. The film’s soundtrack was composed by Richard Rodgers, with lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II. Irwin Kostal won the 38th Academy Award for “Scoring of Music 鈥 Adaptation or Treatment”.

The score has become one of the most famous and beloved musical scores of all time, and includes classic songs such as “My Favorite Things,” “Do-Re-Mi,” “Edelweiss,” “Climb Ev’ry Mountain,” and “The Sound of Music.” The score encompasses a wide range of musical styles, from lush orchestral pieces to lighthearted, jaunty tunes.

Doctor Zhivago – Maurice Jarre

The score of the 1965 film Doctor Zhivago is composed by the legendary Russian composer Maurice Jarre. The main theme, “Lara’s Theme,” is a passionate melodic theme that repeats throughout the film.

Other prominent themes in the score include “the “Love Theme,” which conveys the tenderness of the love story, and the “Revolution Theme,” which builds suspense and tension”Kontakion (Funeral Song)”, and “Lara is Charming”. The score also contains a number of Russian folk songs and marches, which further enhance the film’s Russian setting. Doctor Zhivago won the 38th Academy Award for best “Music Score 鈥 Substantially Original Score”.

My Fair Lady – Andr茅 Previn

The score for the musical film adaptation of My Fair Lady (1964) was composed and adapted by composer and conductor Andr茅 Previn. Previn’s score utilizes an energetic symphonic style and references numerous traditional musical styles and motifs, including British folk, classical, and jazz.

He also incorporates elements of Gilbert and Sullivan operettas, such as the use of a chorus and a waltz-like melody. Previn’s score is romantic, playful, and uplifting, and perfectly captures the spirit and emotion of the film. My Fair Lady won the 37th Academy Award for best “Scoring of Music 鈥 Adaptation or Treatment”.

Mary Poppins – Sherman Brothers

The score for the movie Mary Poppins (1964) was composed and conducted by the legendary Disney composer Richard M. Sherman, along with his brother Robert B. Sherman. It features a classic blend of orchestral and vocal music that has become iconic for the movie.

Much of the score is based on traditional British and Irish folk music, with a few of the songs having a jazz and swing flavour to them. The score features many recognizable songs, including “A Spoonful of Sugar”, “Let’s Go Fly a Kite”, “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious”, and “Chim Chim Cher-ee”. Mary Poppins won the 37th Academy Award for best “Music Score 鈥 Substantially Original”.

Irma La Douce – Andr茅 Previn

The score for the 1963 film Irma La Douce (meaning Irma The Sweet) was composed by Italian composer and conductor Armando Trovajoli. The score was released as an album by Disques Vogue in 1963.

The score is light and jazzy, capturing the mood of the film’s romantic comedy plot. Irma La Douce won the 36th Academy Award for best “Scoring of Music 鈥 Adaptation or Treatment”.

Tom Jones – John Addison

The score for the movie Tom Jones (1963) was composed by John Addison and is known for its instantly recognizable theme tune. It is an orchestral score that incorporates elements of jazz and folk music, as well as some classical elements.

The score contains upbeat and entertaining melodies, and uses a variety of brass and percussion instruments. Many consider the Tom Jones score an important and influential score in the history of British film music. Tom Jones won the 36th Academy Award for best “Music Score 鈥 Substantially Original”.

The Music Man – Ray Heindorf

The Music Man is a 1962 American musical film starring Robert Preston as Harold Hill, Shirley Jones as Marian Paroo, and Buddy Hackett as Marcellus Washburn. The film was directed by Morton DaCosta and adapted from the 1957 Broadway musical of the same name by Meredith Willson.

The Music Man score features a variety of musical styles, including show tunes, marches, and folk songs. The score includes such well-known songs as “Goodnight, My Someone,” “Seventy-Six Trombones,” “Till There Was You,” “Gary, Indiana,” and “Shipoopi.” The Music Man won the 35th Academy Award for best “Scoring of Music 鈥 Adaptation or Treatment”.

Lawrence of Arabia – Maurice Jarre

The score for the film Lawrence of Arabia (1962) was composed by Maurice Jarre. Jarre’s score is a major part of the film’s success, and its stirring themes have become iconic in their own right. In fact, the several minutes of the film feature just a black screen while Jarre’s “Overture” sets the scene.

The score incorporates Middle Eastern and North African elements, including oud, duduk, and other instruments, as well as traditional Western symphonic elements. Lawrence of Arabia won the 35th Academy Award for best “Music Score 鈥 Substantially Original”.

West Side Story – Saul Chaplin, Johnny Green, Sid Ramin, and Irwin Kostal

West Side Story (1961) is a musical drama film starring Natalie Wood and Richard Beymer. The film was directed by Robert Wise and Jerome Robbins, with music by Leonard Bernstein and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim. Saul Chaplin, Johnny Green, Sid Ramin, and Irwin Kostal won the 34th Academy Award for “Scoring of a Musical Picture”.

The score for the film is a mix of jazz, Latin, and classical music, reflecting the different cultures of the two gangs at war in the film. It is one of the most iconic and influential film scores of all time, with numerous awards and accolades. The score includes songs such as “Tonight,” “Maria,” “America,” “Somewhere,” and “I Feel Pretty”.

Breakfast at Tiffany’s – Henry Mancini

The score for the film Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961) was composed by Henry Mancini and consists of jazz and lounge music, as well as several classic standards. The most iconic pieces of music featured in the film are Mancini’s “Moon River”, “Something for Cat”, and “The Big Blow Out,” both of which appear during key moments in the movie.

In addition, there are many instrumental pieces that accompany the lighthearted and romantic scenes. Breakfast at Tiffany’s won the 34th Academy Award for best “Music Score of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture”.

Song Without End – Morris Stoloff & Harry Sukman

The score for the film Song Without End (1960) was composed by the great composer and conductor, Franz Waxman. The score featured a full orchestra, with a large string section, as well as harp, woodwinds and brass. Morris Stoloff and Harry Sukman won the 33rd Academy Award for “Scoring of a Musical Picture”.

The main theme of the score has a beautiful and romantic melody, full of emotion and feeling. The score also featured several other themes, including a theme for the main character, a waltz, and a dramatic action theme.

Exodus – Ernest Gold

Exodus (1960) is an epic historical drama film directed by Otto Preminger and written by Dalton Trumbo based on the 1958 novel by Leon Uris. The film depicts the founding of the modern State of Israel. The score for the film was composed by Ernest Gold and features a bold orchestral sound with an emphasis on brass and string instruments.

The score often takes on a religious or spiritual tone, reflecting the story鈥檚 themes of faith and struggle. The Overture is the most popular track from this score. The soundtrack also includes traditional Hebrew folk songs and instrumental versions of some traditional Jewish melodies. Exodus won the 33rd Academy Award for best “Music Score of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture”.

1950s Winners

Porgy and Bess – Ken Darby & Andr茅 Previn

The movie score for Porgy and Bess (1959) was composed by George Gershwin. It is a combination of jazz, blues, and gospel music styles, as well as classical orchestration. The score features some of Gershwin’s best-known compositions performed by Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong. Popular tracks include: “Summertime,” “It Ain’t Necessarily So,” and the iconic “Bess You Is My Woman Now”. Ken Darby and Andr茅 Previn won the 32nd Academy Award for best “Scoring of Musical Picture”.

The score is full of soulful melodies, dynamic rhythms, and expansive orchestral arrangements. It is a perfect accompaniment to the drama and emotion of the film.

Ben-Hur – Mikl贸s R贸zsa

The score for the 1959 version of Ben-Hur was composed by composer Mikl贸s R贸zsa and was highly acclaimed at the time of its release, earning the composer his third Academy Award for Best Original Score.

The score is an orchestral masterpiece, combining traditional classical elements with Jewish and Middle Eastern motifs. The main theme is a triumphant march that has become one of the most iconic pieces of film music in cinematic history.

Gigi – Andr茅 Previn

Gigi (1958)is a classic romantic musical comedy, with a lighthearted, whimsical score. The score was composed by Frederick Loewe, with lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner. Andr茅 Previn won the 31st Academy Award for “Scoring of a Motion Picture”.

The music is a combination of light classical and popular French style melodies, with some jazzy numbers thrown in. It is lighthearted and generally cheerful, with some moments of drama. The score has become a classic, and is often featured in stage adaptations of the movie.

The Old Man and the Sea – Dimitri Tiomkin

Dimitri Tiomkin’s score for The Old Man and the Sea (1958) is a a stirring and emotive orchestral score, featuring strings and a variety of wind instruments. The score contains lush and romantic melodies, which evoke the beauty and majesty of the sea, but also evokes hints of sadness and sorrow. The stirring main theme repeats throughout the film, and acts as a poignant reminder of the main character’s courage and determination.

The score also features a variety of nautical-themed themes and motifs, as well as several action-oriented cues to depict the intensity of Santiago’s battle with the great fish. Dimitry Tiomkin won the 31st Academy Award for best “Music Score of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture”.

The Bridge on the River Kwai – Malcolm Arnold

The score for the film The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957) was composed by Malcolm Arnold. The score features a suite of themes including a British military march, a rousing victory march, and a romantic love theme. The main theme is a rousing march with a heroic, triumphant tone that repeats throughout the score. A variety of exotic percussion instruments and memorable motifs heighten the drama of the film.

Arnold’s score also includes a jaunty song sung by soldiers in the camp, which has a great effect in the climactic bridge-building scene. The Bridge on the River Kwai won the 30th Academy Award for best “Scoring of a Musical Picture”.

Around the World in 80 Days – Victor Young

The Around the World in 80 Days (1956) film score is a classic adventure-romance score composed by Victor Young and featuring an eclectic mix of musical styles. The score includes everything from classic orchestral pieces to jazz and ragtime music.

Every track is an evocative reflection of the characters’ experiences and travels, from the sweeping romanticism of the main theme to the frenetic energy of the chase music. The score has become a classic of its genre and is sure to delight listeners of all ages.

The King and I – Ken Darby & Newman

The music for The King and I (1956)is an eclectic mix of traditional Thai music, western classical music, and Broadway show tunes. The score was composed by Academy Award-winning composer Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II, who wrote the musical’s book and lyrics. Ken Darby and Newman won the 29th Academy Award for “Scoring of a Musical Picture”.

The soundtrack contains many memorable songs, including “Getting to Know You,” “Shall We Dance,” and “Something Wonderful.” The score also includes several instrumental pieces, such as the opening fanfare and the romantic ballet “Shall I Tell You What I Think of You?”

Oklahoma! – Robert Russell Bennett, Jay Blackton & Adolph Deutsch

The score for Oklahoma! (1955) is a mix of traditional American folk and popular songs, as well as original compositions by composer Richard Rodgers and lyricist Oscar Hammerstein II. Robert Russell Bennett, Jay Blackton, and Adolph Deutsch won the 28th Academy Award for “Scoring of a Musical Picture”.

The popular songs include the title song “Oklahoma!”, “Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin'”, and “The Surrey with the Fringe on Top”. The original compositions include the famous ballet “Out of My Dreams Ballet” and the show-stopping “People Will Say We’re in Love”.

Love is a Many-Splendored Thing – Alfred Newman

The music for the romantic drama Love is a Many-Splendored Thing (1955) was composed by Sammy Fain, with lyrics by Paul Francis Webster. Alfred Newman won the 28th Academy Award for best “Music Score of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture”.

The score is a lush and romantic blend of strings, piano, and brass, combined with a lilting waltz-like melody. The song of the same name was famously performed by Billy Eckstine, and became an Academy Award-winning hit.

Seven Brides for Seven Brothers – Saul Chaplin & Adolph Deutsch

The film score for Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (1954) was composed by Gene de Paul and Saul Chaplin, and features a mix of songs and instrumental music. The score includes the main theme “Bless Your Beautiful Hide”.

Other well-known tracks include “Sobbin’ Women,” “Goin’ Courtin,” and “Lonesome Polecat.” Seven Brides for Seven Brothers won the 27th Academy Award for best “Scoring of a Musical Picture”.

The High and the Mighty – Dimitri Tiomkin

The High and the Mighty (1954) is anAmerican drama film directed by William A. Wellman and starring John Wayne, Robert Stack, Claire Trevor, Laraine Day, and Jan Sterling. The film score was composed by the acclaimed composer Dimitri Tiomkin, and is one of his most famous works. The score is a mixture of orchestral and choral music, with a heavy emphasis on choral pieces.

The main theme, “The High and the Mighty”, is a rousing and triumphant piece that underscores the drama and action of the film. The score also features a number of softer and more lyrical pieces, such as “The Moon Is Low” and “The Lonesome Sea”. The High and the Mighty won the 27th Academy Award for best “Music Score of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture”.

Call Me Madam – Alfred Newman

The score for the film Call Me Madam (1953) is a cheerful, upbeat orchestral score that combines elements of jazz, classical, and pop music. The score features a wide range of instruments, including trumpets, saxophones, strings, and piano. It’s humorous, with a slight hint of mischief.

The music is often bouncy and playful, but can also be romantic and sentimental when necessary. Ultimately, the score helps to create a warm and inviting atmosphere, perfect for the lighthearted comedy found in the film. Call Me Madam won the 26th Academy Award for best “Scoring of a Musical Picture”.

Lili – Bronis艂aw Kaper

Lili (1953) is an American romantic musical drama film directed by Charles Walters and starring Leslie Caron and Mel Ferrer. The film score was composed by Georges Auric, with additional music by Bronislau Kaper and Jacques Prevert. Lili won the 26th Academy Award for best “Music Score of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture”.

The score has a mix of light-hearted waltzes, romantic melodies, and upbeat jazz numbers. The songs, sung by Leslie Caron, include the memorable 鈥淗i-Lili, Hi-Lo鈥, which also won the Academy Award for Best Original Song.

With a Song in My Heart – Alfred Newman

The film score for With A Song in My Heart (1952) features a mix of original compositions and popular songs of the era. The score is full of big band jazz, romantic ballads, and show tunes. The main theme of the film is the song “A Song in My Heart”.

The film also includes popular “American Medley” tracks sung by actress Jane Froman. With A Song in My Heart won the 25th Academy Award for best “Scoring of a Musical Picture”.

High Noon – Dimitri Tiomkin

The score of the western classic High Noon (1952) was composed by Dimitri Tiomkin. The score features a main theme that carries the title of “High Noon Suite” or “The Ballad of High Noon”. It’s a slow, ominous, and suspenseful piece that is based on the American folk song “Do Not Forsake Me Oh My Darlin”.

The score also features a variety of other western-style pieces such as saloon melodies, Mexican-influenced music, and orchestral pieces. High Noon won the 25th Academy Award for best “Music Score of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture”.

An American in Paris – Saul Chaplin & Johnny Green

The 1951 film An American in Paris contains music by George Gershwin and his brother Ira Gershwin. The score includes several jazz-influenced pieces, some of which were written for the film and some of which were culled from Gershwin’s existing body of work. The most popular song from the film is “I Got Rhythm”.

Other featured songs include “S Wonderful”, “Tra-La-La”, and “Love is Here to Stay”. Round Midnight won the 24th Academy Award for best “Scoring of a Musical Picture”.

A Place in the Sun – Franz Waxman

The score for the film A Place in the Sun (1951) was composed by Franz Waxman. It is a lushly romantic and melodic score, featuring strings and light woodwinds. The main theme is a tender love melody, first heard in the opening credits and then recurring throughout the film.

In addition to the light jazzy numbers, it also includes some well-known pieces like “Love’s Meeting” and “Dance and Angela”. A Place in the Sun won the 24th Academy Award for best “Music Score of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture”.

Annie Get Your Gun – Adolph Deutsch & Roger Edens

The musical score for the film adaptation of Annie Get Your Gun (1950) was composed by Irving Berlin. It features an overture, a series of musical numbers, and underscoring for dialogue scenes. Adolph Deutsch and Roger Edens won the 23rd Academy Award for best “Scoring of a Musical Picture”.

The music is generally upbeat, featuring a variety of styles, such as jazz, dancehall, country, and show tunes. The score features many of Berlin’s classic songs, such as “There’s No Business Like Show Business” and “Doin’ What Comes Natur’lly”.

Sunset Boulevard – Franz Waxman

Sunset Boulevard (1950) is a classic film score composed by Franz Waxman. It is a film noir score with a distinct Hollywood sound, featuring lush orchestral arrangements, jazz elements, and a strong emphasis on strings and brass. Waxman won the 23rd Academy Award for best “Music Score of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture”.

The score has a dark, moody tone and dramatic, sweeping melodies. It also features a few brief, light moments, as well as some experimental sounds, such as the use of a theremin.

1940s Winners

On the Town – Roger Edens & Lennie Hayton

The film score for On the Town (1949) was composed by Leonard Bernstein, with lyrics by Betty Comden and Adolph Green. The score is characterized by a strong jazz influence, with a focus on big band swing, bebop, and vocal jazz. Roger Edens and Lennie Hayton won the 22nd Academy Award for best “Scoring of a Musical Picture”.

The score was performed by The Gene Krupa Orchestra, as well as a cast of singers which included Jules Munshin, Betty Garrett, and Frank Sinatra. The score features some of Bernstein’s most iconic works, including the “New York, New York” Overture, and “You’re Awful”.

The Heiress – Aaron Copland

The Heiress (1949) was scored by master composer Aaron Copland. His score is an integral part of the film and creates tension and suspense during dramatic moments, as well as to reinforce the emotion of a scene. Copland won the 22nd Academy Award for best “Music Score of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture”.

The score featured a blend of classical and Americana styles, with graceful strings, a grandiose horn section, light jazz, and a few classic Copland flourishes. The main theme, 鈥淭he Heiress鈥, is a sweeping and romantic melody that recurs throughout the film, providing a sense of hope that runs counter to the dark and oppressive atmosphere of the film.

Easter Parade – Johnny Green & Roger Edens

The Easter Parade (1948) film score was composed by Irving Berlin. It is a light, romantic score that reflects the film’s time period and setting. Johnny Green and Roger Edens won the 21st Academy Award for best “Scoring of a Musical Picture”.

The score features a variety of period-appropriate instrumentation, including strings, brass, and woodwinds, as well as a few piano pieces. It also includes some big band-style jazz numbers, as well as some more traditional waltzes. The overall effect is one of nostalgia and romance, and it perfectly complements the story of the film.

The Red Shoes – Brian Easdale

The Red Shoes (1948) is aclassic British drama film about a young ballerina who must choose between her art and her love. The film score was composed by the world-renowned British composer Brian Easdale. His soundtrack is a lush and romantic orchestral score that features sweeping strings and lush woodwinds, with occasional moments of excitement and drama.

The score is at times both melancholic and uplifting, perfectly capturing the drama of the film. Easdale won the 21st Academy Award for best “Music Score of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture”.

Mother Wore Tights – Alfred Newman

The musical score of the musical comedy Mother Wore Tights (1947) was composed by Frank Burt and David Buttolph. Alfred Newman won the 20th Academy Award for best “Scoring of a Musical Picture”. The score blends classical, big band, and folk elements. The score features a number of memorable songs, including the title track, “Mother Wore Tights”, “You Don’t Have to Tell Me”, and “The Boy Next Door”.

The score also includes a number of orchestral pieces which drive the narrative of the film and set the tone for each scene. The music evokes a feeling of nostalgia, which the audience can hear by the use of traditional folk instruments, such as the fiddle, accordion and banjo.

A Double Life – Mikl贸s R贸zsa

The score for A Double Life (1947) was composed by Mikl贸s R贸zsa, and won the 20th Academy Award for best “Music Score of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture”. It is a dramatic, suspenseful score that uses a mix of classical and jazz elements.

The main theme is a slow, somber-sounding melody, with the orchestration featuring strings, woodwinds, and brass. There are also some percussion instruments that create tension and an uneasy atmosphere. R贸zsa’s score also features jazz elements, such as saxophone and piano solos, to add a sense of edginess to the film.

The Jolson Story – Morris Stoloff

The Jolson Story (1946) featured an original score composed by Morris Stoloff, with additional music by Hugo Friedhofer and George Duning. The film won the 19th Academy Award for best “Scoring of a Musical Picture”.

The score used a traditional orchestral arrangement, with a focus on light and romantic melodies. It also included several jazz-inspired pieces, as well as some swing-inspired numbers. Additionally, the film featured several of Al Jolson’s popular songs from his career, including “California, Here I Come” and “There’s a Rainbow ‘Round My Shoulder”.

The Best Years of Our Lives – Hugo Friedhofer

The Best Years of Our Lives (1946) American drama film with a film score composed by Hugo Friedhofer. It is an emotional and stirring score that’s both elegant and simple. Friedhofer won the 19th Academy Award for best “Music Score of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture”.

The main theme is a beautiful, classical sounding piece that conveys the sentiment of the film. It is accompanied by a number of other melodies, including dramatic and romantic ones, as well as some more lighthearted and upbeat cues.

Anchors Aweigh – Georgie Stoll

Anchors Aweigh (1945) musical comedy directed by George Sidney and starring Frank Sinatra and Gene Kelly. The film’s score was composed by George Stoll and Saul Chaplin. Stoll won the 18th Academy Award for Best Scoring of a Musical Picture.

The score includes a mix of classical, jazz and swing music, as well as the popular songs “I Fall in Love Too Easily”, “Lullaby”, “Time After Time”, “The Charm of You” and “Anchors Aweigh”. The score also features a classical piece by the 19th-century Italian composer Giuseppe Verdi and a romantic ballad sung by Sinatra and Kelly.

Spellbound – Mikl贸s R贸zsa

The score of the Alfred Hitchcock film Spellbound (1945) is a classic orchestral score composed by Mikl贸s R贸zsa. The score has hauntingly beautiful and mysterious themes, which often accompany the psychological thriller elements of the film.

The score features a wide variety of instruments, including strings, woodwinds, brass, piano, harpsichord, and percussion. It also contains a few vocal pieces, including a hauntingly beautiful choral piece that plays during the film’s dream sequences. R贸zsa’s score won the 18th Academy Award for Best “Music Score of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture”.

Cover Girl – Morris Stoloff & Carmen Dragon

Cover Girl (1944) is a classic musical film starring Rita Hayworth and Gene Kelly. The film score was composed by Morris Stoloff, who won the 17th Academy Award for best “Scoring of a Musical Picture”.

The score consists of a mix of classic show tunes, romantic ballads, and uptempo swing numbers. Among the songs featured in the film are “Put Me To The Test,” “Long Ago And Far Away,” “Make Way For Tomorrow,” and “The Show Must Go On.”

Since You Went Away – Max Steiner

Since You Went Away (1944) is an American drama film directed by John Cromwell. The film score was composed and conducted by Max Steiner. The score is primarily an orchestral one, featuring a lush and sweeping main theme that underlines the film’s romantic and emotional aspects. Steiner won the 17th Academy Award for best “Music Score of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture”.

Other themes include music for the military sequences and a march for the character of Tim, the daughter’s boyfriend. The score also incorporates several popular songs of the era, including “There’s No Place Like Home (Home Sweet Home)”, “Main Title/Returning Home” and “Waltz at the Soldier’s Dance”. The music helps to create an atmosphere of sadness and longing, as well as a hopefulness for the future.

This is the Army – Ray Heindorf

The score of the film This is the Army (1943) was composed by Irving Berlin and Max Steiner. Ray Heindorf won the 16th Academy Award for best “Scoring of a Musical Picture”.

The score was a mix of traditional marching band music and Berlin’s own compositions, including the song “This is the Army Mr. Jones.” Other classic Berlin songs featured in the score include “Oh How I Hate to Get Up in the Morning,” “I Left My Heart at the Stage Door Canteen,” and “I’m Getting Tired So I Can Sleep”. The film also features a number of medleys featuring popular songs of the day. The music was performed by a full orchestra and the United States Army Band.

The Song of the Bernadette – Alfred Newman

The Song of the Bernadette (1943) is a film score composed by Alfred Newman. The score won the 16th Academy Award for best “Music Score of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture”. The score comprises a lush, romantic orchestral score that perfectly captures the religious and spiritual themes of the film.

It features a memorable main theme, as well as several motifs throughout the score, including the “Ave Maria” melody. The score, while being powerful and emotionally evocative, is also tasteful, never overpowering the story.

Yankee Doodle Dandy – Ray Heindorf & Heinz Roemheld

The score for the musical drama Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942) was composed by the legendary George M. Cohan. It is a typical Broadway-style score that features a combination of melodic and bombastic tunes, often with a strong military feel. Ray Heindorf and Heinz Roemheld won the 15th Academy Award for best “Scoring of a Musical Picture”.

The score is mainly orchestral, but also includes some solo vocal pieces and a few choral sections. The main theme of the score is “You’re a Grand Old Flag,” which is occurs throughout the film. Other notable songs include “Over There,” “Give My Regards to Broadway,” and “Mary’s a Grand Old Name.”

Now, Voyager – Max Steiner

Now, Voyager (1942) is a romantic drama starring Bette Davis and Paul Henreid. The score for the film was composed by Max Steiner. Steiner won the 15th Academy Award for Best Score of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture”.

The score is a blend of melodramatic and romantic music, with stirring strings, sweeping horns, and memorable themes. Steiner’s musical score captures the emotions of the film, from the longing and despair of the lead characters to the joy of their eventual reunion.

Dumbo – Frank Churchill & Oliver Wallace

Dumbo (1941) is a Walt Disney animated musical film. The film score was composed by Frank Churchill and Oliver Wallace and features a mix of jazz, pop, and classical styles. Churchill and Wallace won the 14th Academy Award for Best Scoring of a Musical Picture.

The main theme, “Baby Mine,” is a tender lullaby sung by Betty Noyes that was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Song. Other popular tracks include “When I See an Elephant Fly,” “Casey Junior,” and “Pink Elephants on Parade.” The film score also includes a number of instrumental pieces to underscore the various scenes in the movie, including “Look Out for Mr. Stork,” “Dumbo’s Triumph,” and “The Clown Song.”

The Devil and Daniel Webster – Bernard Herrmann

The score for The Devil and Daniel Webster (1941) was composed by Bernard Herrmann and was recorded by the CBS Symphony Orchestra. It was an orchestral score with a unique sound for the time, featuring a variety of music styles including jazz, classical, and folk. Herrmann won the 14th Academy Award for best “Score of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture”.

The score’s main theme illustrates the struggle between Daniel Webster and the Devil. The score also includes other various themes for different characters, such as the popular track “Mary’s Prayer”. The score is considered one of Herrmann’s best works and is often cited as an influential work in film scoring.

Tin Pan Alley – Alfred Newman

Tin Pan Alley (1940) is an American musical film starring Alice Faye, Jack Oakie, and Betty Grable. The film score was composed by the legendary composer and conductor, Alfred Newman.

The score for Tin Pan Alley includes memorable melodies, including “After the Ball” and “Rings on my Fingers”. The score also featured a variety of musical styles, such as swing, jazz, and traditional Americana. Newman’s score also accentuates the film’s comedic moments, as well as its dramatic ones. Newman’s score was widely praised, and won the 13th Academy Award for best “Scoring”.

Pinocchio – Leigh Harline, Paul Smith & Ned Washington

Pinocchio (1940) was scored by the legendary composer and songwriter Leigh Harline. The score is best remembered for its iconic theme song, “When You Wish Upon a Star”, which was written by Harline and Ned Washington. Harline also wrote other memorable songs for the film, such as “Little Wooden Head” and “I’ve Got No Strings”

Harline also incorporated a variety of instruments, including strings, woodwinds, and brass, to create an evocative, immersive soundscape. The score was a critical and commercial success, earning Harline the 13th Academy Award for best “Original Score”.

1930s Winners

Stagecoach – Richard Hageman, W. Franke Harling, John Leipold & Leo Shuken

The score for Stagecoach (1939) was composed by Richard Hageman, who received the 12th Academy Award for best “Scoring”. The score is a mix of both traditional country Western music and classical music. The main theme, “Stagecoach,” is a sweeping melodic piece that captures the spirit of adventure and the American West.

The Wizard of Oz – Herbert Stothart

The Wizard of Oz (1939) film score was composed by Herbert Stothart, and won the 12th Academy Award for best “Original Score”. It is a mix of lighthearted, playful music and more serious, epic-sounding pieces. The main title theme sets the tone for the film, and is a memorable, optimistic melody. Other highlights include “If I only Had A Brain”, the iconic “Over the Rainbow,” the thrilling “Cyclone” sequence, and the upbeat “We’re Off To See The Wizard”.

The score also features a variety of fanfares, marches, and lighter pieces to accompany the many character and plot developments. Overall, the score for The Wizard of Oz is an iconic example of Hollywood film music, and audiences still enjoy it today!

Alexander’s Ragtime Band – Alfred Newman

Alexander’s Ragtime Band (1938) is an American musical drama film directed by Henry King, starring Tyrone Power, Alice Faye, Don Ameche, and Ethel Merman. The film’s score was composed by Alfred Newman, who won the 11th Academy Award for Best Scoring.

The score of Alexander’s Ragtime Band is a mix of jazz, ragtime, and classical music. Newman arranged some of the classic ragtime pieces, such as “Alexander’s Ragtime Band” and “The Entertainer”, to be performed as instrumental jazz pieces, in order to create an atmosphere of excitement and energy. He also wrote a few original compositions, including a slow-tempo love theme, “Our Love Affair”.

The Adventures of Robin Hood – Erich Wolfgang Korngold

The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938) is a classic adventure film that has become a timeless classic. The film score was composed by Erich Wolfgang Korngold, and won the 11th Academy Award for Best Original Score. The score incorporates elements of classical, romantic and modern music, as well as elements of folk and popular music.

The score contains heroic themes and its use of leitmotifs to represent characters and places in the film. The score also features a prominent use of the recorder, which adds a mythical and romantic feel to the music.

One Hundred Men and a Girl – Universal Studio Music Department, Charles Previn

The film score for One Hundred Men and a Girl (1937) was arranged by American composer and arranger, Charles Previn and conducted by Leopold Stokowski. The score featured a light and jaunty style, utilizing a full orchestra with a focus on strings of mostly pre-existing works. Although controversial, the score won the 10th Academy Award for best “Scoring “.

The main theme is a waltz-like melody, that’s occurs prominently throughout the film. Other elements included jazz-inspired harmonies, and a few folk-like melodies, as well as some marches. The score also featured a few classical pieces, including works by Bach, Vivaldi, and Mozart. In addition, the score featured several popular songs of the time, such as “I’m in the Mood for Love” and “It’s a Lovely Day Today”.

Anthony Adverse – Warner Bros. Studio Music Department, Leo F. Forbstein

The score for the film Anthony Adverse (1936) was composed by Erich Wolfgang Korngold. It is a sweeping, epic score that conveys both the grandeur and tragedy of the story. The film won the 9th Academy Award for best “Scoring”, with Leo Forbstein taking credit as the head of department.

It features lush strings, triumphant horns, stirring woodwinds, and powerful percussion. The first half of the score focuses on the film’s more tragic moments, and the second half showcases its more triumphant and heroic moments. The overall effect is one of grandeur and drama, perfectly capturing the emotions of the characters and the story.

The Informer – RKO Radio Studio Music Department, Max Steiner

The original score for The Informer (1935) was composed by Max Steiner and was widely praised by critics. It was one of the first major film scores to employ a full orchestra and was an early example of creating a score that was integral to the narrative of the film. As a result, the film won the 8th Academy Award for best “Scoring”.

The score is used to create a sense of foreboding and tension, as well as to emphasize the drama and tragedy of the story. It features a range of instruments, including strings, woodwinds, brass, and percussion, as well as a few solo pieces for the piano and celeste. The main theme is a dark and brooding march that is used throughout the film to create a sense of impending doom.

One Night of Love – Columbia Studio Music Department, Louis Silvers

The score for the romantic drama One Night of Love (1934) was composed by Louis Silvers, Victor Schertzinger, and Gus Kahn. This was the first film to win an Academy Award in the category of Best Scoring! The film won the 7th Academy Award for best “Scoring .

The film featured popular ballads of the time, including the title track “One Night of Love,” which was sung by star Grace Moore.

The score had an orchestral feel and featured classic string instruments, such as the violin and cello. It created a romantic atmosphere and was used to heighten the emotional scenes in the film.

Published by Jonathan Richter

Classical guitarist, teacher and ethnomusicologist based in Atlanta, GA

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