- Danny Elfman
Danny Elfman at ComicCon 2010 promoting The Danny Elfman & Tim Burton 25th Anniversary Music Box.
Background information Birth name Daniel Robert Elfman Born May 29, 1953
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Genres New Wave, alternative rock, film music Occupations composer, singer, record producer, actor, voice actor Years active 1972–present Associated acts Oingo Boingo, The Mystic Knights of the Oingo Boingo Madisen Burton's Basement
Daniel Robert "Danny" Elfman (born May 29, 1953) is an American composer, best known for scoring music for television and film. Up until 1995, he was the lead singer and songwriter in the rock band Oingo Boingo, a group he formed in 1976. He is noted for his frequent collaborations with long-time friend Tim Burton and has scored the majority of his films.
Born in Los Angeles, California, he entered the film industry in 1976, initially as an actor. He made his film scoring début in in 1980 for the film Forbidden Zone directed by his older brother Richard Elfman. He has since been nominated for four Academy Awards and won a Grammy Award for Tim Burton's Batman and an Emmy Award for his Desperate Housewives theme. Elfman was honored with the prestigious Richard Kirk award at the 2002 BMI Film and TV Awards. The award is given annually to a composer who has made significant contributions to film and television music.
Elfman is famous for creating The Simpsons main title theme as well as the Batman theme, and his role as Jack Skellington's singing voice in The Nightmare Before Christmas. He also sang for the character Bonejangles in the movie Corpse Bride.
Early life and career
Elfman, who is Jewish, was born in Los Angeles, California, the son of Blossom Elfman (née Bernstein), a writer and teacher, and Milton Elfman, a teacher who was in the Air Force. Elfman grew up in a racially mixed community in the Baldwin Hills area of Los Angeles. He spent much of his time in the local movie theatre, adoring the music of such film composers as Bernard Herrmann and Franz Waxman.
Stating that he hung out with the "band nerds" in high school, he started a ska band. After dropping out of high school, he followed his brother Richard to France, where he performed with Le Grand Magic Circus, an avant-garde musical theater group. Violin in tow, Elfman next journeyed to Africa where he traveled through Ghana, Mali, and Upper Volta, absorbing new musical styles, including the Ghanaian highlife genre which would eventually influence his own music. Elfman contracted malaria during his one-year stay and was often sick. Eventually he returned home to the United States, where he began to take Balinese music lessons at the CalArts. During this time, he was romantically involved with Kim Gordon, who would later go on to form Sonic Youth. He was never officially a student at the institute, nonetheless, the instructor encouraged him to continue learning. Elfman stated, "He just laughed, and said, 'Sit. Play.' I continued to sit and play for a couple years." At this time, his brother was forming a new musical theater group, The Mystic Knights of the Oingo Boingo. The group performed the music for Richard's debut feature film, Forbidden Zone. Danny Elfman composed his first score for the film and played the role of Satan. By the time the movie was completed, they had taken the name Oingo Boingo and begun recording and touring as a rock group.
Elfman and Tim Burton
In 1985, Tim Burton and Paul Reubens invited Elfman to write the score for their first feature film, Pee-wee's Big Adventure. Elfman was apprehensive at first because of his lack of formal training, but with orchestration assistance from Oingo Boingo guitarist and arranger Steve Bartek, he achieved his goal of emulating the mood of such composers as Nino Rota and Bernard Herrmann. In the booklet for the first volume of Music for a Darkened Theatre, Elfman described the first time he heard his music played by a full orchestra as one of the most thrilling experiences of his life. Elfman immediately developed a rapport with Burton and has gone on to score all but two of Burton's major studio releases: Ed Wood, scored by Howard Shore, which was under production while Elfman and Burton were having a fight, and Sweeney Todd, an adaptation of the 1979 Stephen Sondheim Broadway musical. He also, more recently, accompanied Tim Burton in the composition of music for "Almost Alice", the soundtrack for Alice in Wonderland.
Burton has said of his relationship with Elfman: "We don't even have to talk about the music. We don't even have to intellectualize – which is good for both of us, we're both similar that way. We're very lucky to connect" (Breskin, 1997).
He recalls that the first time he became aware of film music was in his youth during a screening of The Day the Earth Stood Still (Robert Wise, 1951). The music was by Bernard Herrmann, and that, he has said, was where his love of film music began (Russell and Young, 2000). Elfman purposefully nodded towards Herrmann's The Day the Earth Stood Still score in Tim Burton's science fiction spoof Mars Attacks!
Other film composers have also proven to be influential, such as Nino Rota and Erich Wolfgang Korngold, the former in Elfman's playful music for Pee-wee's Big Adventure, the latter in his much grander work, Batman. Sometimes his music has a distinctly Russian feel, inspired by the likes of Prokofiev, Stravinsky and Tchaikovsky’s ballet music. Jazz and rock influences from his earlier career are evident in such films as Chicago and To Die For. Elfman also cited Philip Glass as a major influence in his score for Alice in Wonderland, mainly known for "Alice's Theme".
When asked during a 2007 phone-in interview on XETRA-FM if he ever had any notions of performing in an Oingo Boingo reunion, Elfman immediately rejected the idea and stated that in the last few years with the band he had begun to develop significant and irreversible hearing damage as a result of his continuous exposure to the high noise levels involved in performing in a rock band. He went on to say that he believes his hearing damage is partially due to a genetic predisposition to hearing loss, and that he will never return to the stage for fear of worsening not only his condition but also that of his band mates.
Elfman has recently started working in the classical world, beginning with Serenada Schizophrana for the American Composers Orchestra. It was conducted by John Mauceri on its recording and by Steven Sloane at its premiere at Carnegie Hall in New York City on February 23, 2005. After its premiere, it was recorded in studio and released onto SACD on October 3, 2006. The meeting with Mauceri proved fruitful as the composer was encouraged then to write a new concert piece for Mauceri and the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra. Elfman composed an "overture to a nonexistent musical" and called the piece "The Overeager Overture." He also continues to compose his film scores in addition to these other projects.
In November 2010, it was reported that Danny Elfman is writing the music for a planned musical based on the life of Houdini.
Elfman has three children: Lola, born in 1979; Mali, born in 1984; and Oliver, born in 2005. On November 29, 2003, Elfman married film actress Bridget Fonda. In 1997 he scored A Simple Plan - his only score for one of her films to date (although he did compose a cue for the film Army of Darkness, in which Fonda has a cameo). He is the uncle of actor Bodhi Elfman who is married to actress Jenna Elfman, known most notably in her role as Dharma in the TV series Dharma and Greg.
Appearances by Elfman as an actor, or as a member of Oingo Boingo:
Year Film Role Notes 1977 I Never Promised You a Rose Garden Yri drummer Also featured Richard Elfman 1980 Forbidden Zone Satan Directed by Richard Elfman 1981 Urgh! A Music War Himself Part of Oingo Boingo 1984 Good Morning, Mr. Orwell Himself Part of Oingo Boingo 1986 Back to School Himself Part of Oingo Boingo 1993 The Nightmare Before Christmas Jack Skellington (singing), Barrel, The Clown with the Tear-Away Face Voice only 2000 The Gift Tommy Lee Ballard Directed by Sam Raimi, cameo 2005 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Oompa-Loompas (singing), Puppets Voice only 2005 Corpse Bride Bonejangles Voice only 2006 Finding Kraftland Himself Documentary directed by Elfman's agent, Richard Kraft 2011 The Looney Tunes Show Owl Jolson (singing) Voice only on TV
This is a list of films with scores composed by Elfman:
Year Film Director Film Score/Soundtrack 1980 Forbidden Zone Richard Elfman Soundtrack (soundtrack with The Mystic Knights of Oingo Boingo) 1985 Pee-wee's Big Adventure Tim Burton Soundtrack (film score, rerecording paired with Back to School) 1986 Back to School Alan Metter Soundtrack (film score, rerecording paired with Pee-wee's Big Adventure) 1987 Summer School Carl Reiner Soundtrack (includes one Elfman song; no score) 1987 Wisdom Emilio Estevez, Robert Wise Soundtrack released by Varèse Sarabande 1988 Beetlejuice Tim Burton Soundtrack 1988 Midnight Run Martin Brest Soundtrack released by MCA 1988 Big Top Pee-wee Randal Kleiser Soundtrack (including dialogue) released by Arista, reissued by PEG 1988 Hot to Trot Michael Dinner Suite included on Music for a Darkened Theatre, Vol. 1 1988 Scrooged Richard Donner Suite included on Music for a Darkened Theatre, Vol. 1 1989 Batman Tim Burton Soundtrack (re-released with complete score from La-La Land Records); Nominated for 32nd Grammy Award for Best Score Soundtrack Album for a Motion Picture, Television or Other Visual Media 1990 Nightbreed Clive Barker Soundtrack released by MCA 1990 Dick Tracy Warren Beatty Soundtrack; Nominated for 33rd Grammy Award for Best Instrumental Composition Written for a Motion Picture or for Television 1990 Darkman Sam Raimi Soundtrack 1990 Edward Scissorhands Tim Burton Soundtrack; Nominated for 34th Grammy Award for Best Instrumental Composition Written for a Motion Picture or for Television 1992 Article 99 Howard Deutch Soundtrack released by Varèse Sarabande 1992 Batman Returns Tim Burton Soundtrack released by Warner Bros. Records; re-released with complete score from La-La Land Records 1993 Sommersby Jon Amiel Soundtrack released by Elektra 1993 Army of Darkness Sam Raimi "March of the Dead" theme by Danny Elfman, rest of the score by Joseph LoDuca 1993 The Nightmare Before Christmas Henry Selick Soundtrack; Written, composed and produced by Danny Elfman; released by Walt Disney Records 1994 Black Beauty Caroline Thompson Soundtrack 1995 Dolores Claiborne Taylor Hackford Soundtrack released by Varèse Sarabande 1995 Dead Presidents Albert Hughes, Allen Hughes Soundtrack (one Elfman track; suite also included on Music for a Darkened Theatre Vol. 2) 1995 To Die For Gus Van Sant Soundtrack released by Varèse Sarabande (score + songs) 1996 Mission: Impossible Brian De Palma Soundtrack (songs + three brief Elfman suites); Score album 1996 The Frighteners Peter Jackson Soundtrack 1996 Freeway Matthew Bright Suite included on Music for a Darkened Theatre Vol. 2 1996 Extreme Measures Michael Apted Soundtrack released by Varèse Sarabande 1996 Mars Attacks! Tim Burton Soundtrack released by Atlantic; expanded edition released by La-La Land Records 1997 Men in Black Barry Sonnenfeld Soundtrack (two Elfman cues); Score album; Nominated for 70th Academy Award for Best Original Musical or Comedy Score & for 40th Grammy Award for Best Instrumental Composition Written for a Motion Picture or for Television 1997 Flubber Les Mayfield Soundtrack released by Walt Disney Records 1997 Bad Day on the Block Craig R. Baxley Soundtrack released by Varèse Sarabande 1997 Good Will Hunting Gus Van Sant Soundtrack (two Elfman cues); Nominated for 70th Academy Award for Best Original Dramatic Score 1998 A Simple Plan Sam Raimi Soundtrack released by Compass III 1998 A Civil Action Steven Zaillian Soundtrack 1999 Instinct Jon Turteltaub Soundtrack 1999 Anywhere But Here Wayne Wang Soundtrack released by Atlantic (includes one score suite) 1999 Sleepy Hollow Tim Burton Soundtrack released by Hollywood Records 2000 Proof of Life Taylor Hackford Soundtrack released by Varèse Sarabande 2000 The Family Man Brett Ratner Soundtrack released by Sire Records (two Elfman cues) 2001 Planet of the Apes Tim Burton Soundtrack released by SME 2002 Spider-Man Sam Raimi Score album; Song album; Nominated for 45th Grammy Award for Best Score Soundtrack Album for a Motion Picture, Television or Other Visual Media 2002 Men in Black II Barry Sonnenfeld Soundtrack released by Columbia Records 2002 Red Dragon Brett Ratner Soundtrack released by Decca Records 2002 Chicago Rob Marshall Soundtrack (two Elfman tracks) 2003 Hulk Ang Lee Soundtrack released by Columbia Records 2003 Big Fish Tim Burton Soundtrack; Nominated for 76th Academy Award for Best Original Score, for 61st Golden Globe Award for Best Original Score & for 47th Grammy Award for Best Score Soundtrack Album for a Motion Picture, Television or Other Visual Media 2004 Spider-Man 2 Sam Raimi Soundtrack; Score album 2005 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Tim Burton Soundtrack; Nominated for 48th Grammy Award for Best Song Written for a Motion Picture, Television or Other Visual Media (Wonka's Welcome Song) 2005 Corpse Bride Tim Burton Soundtrack 2006 Deep Sea 3D Howard Hall Serenada Schizophrana 2006 Nacho Libre Jared Hess Soundtrack (score suite) 2006 Charlotte's Web Gary Winick Soundtrack 2007 Meet the Robinsons Stephen Anderson Soundtrack 2007 The Kingdom Peter Berg Soundtrack released by Varèse Sarabande 2008 Standard Operating Procedure Errol Morris Soundtrack 2008 Wanted Timur Bekmambetov Soundtrack 2008 Hellboy II: The Golden Army Guillermo del Toro Soundtrack released by Varèse Sarabande 2008 Milk Gus Van Sant Soundtrack released by Decca Records; Nominated for 81st Academy Award for Best Original Score & for 52nd Grammy Award for Best Score Soundtrack Album for a Motion Picture, Television or Other Visual Media 2009 Notorious George Tillman, Jr. Soundtrack (one Elfman track) 2009 Terminator Salvation McG Soundtrack released by Warner Bros. Records 2009 Taking Woodstock Ang Lee Song soundtrack on Rhino Records with four Elfman cues; score album on La-La Land Records 2009 9 Shane Acker Soundtrack with Deborah Lurie and produced by Tim Burton 2010 The Wolfman Joe Johnston Soundtrack released by Varèse Sarabande 2010 Alice in Wonderland Tim Burton Soundtrack released by Walt Disney Records; Nominated for 68th Golden Globe Award for Best Original Score & for 53rd Grammy Award for Best Score Soundtrack Album for a Motion Picture, Television or Other Visual Media 2010 The Next Three Days Paul Haggis Soundtrack released by Lionsgate 2011 Restless Gus Van Sant Soundtrack 2011 Real Steel Shawn Levy Soundtrack 2012 The Hunger Games Gary Ross Soundtrack 2012 Dark Shadows Tim Burton Soundtrack 2012 Men In Black III Barry Sonnenfeld Soundtrack 2012 Frankenweenie Tim Burton Soundtrack 2013 Oz, The Great and Powerful Sam Raimi Soundtrack
In addition, he has supplied thematic material - except where noted - for movies scored by others (names in brackets):
- 1985: Weird Science: title song (Ira Newborn)
- 1991: Pure Luck (Jonathan Sheffer)
- 1992: Army of Darkness: "March Of The Dead" (Joseph LoDuca)
- 1994: Shrunken Heads (Richard Band)
- 1997: Scream 2: "Cassandra Aria" and "Cassandra Aria Reprise" (Marco Beltrami)
- 1998: Modern Vampires (Michael Wandmacher)
- 1999: My Favorite Martian: "Uncle Martin's Theme" (John Debney)
- 2001: Heartbreakers (John Debney)
- 2001: Spy Kids (Chris Boardman, John Debney, Gavin Greenaway, Harry Gregson-Williams, Heitor Pereira, Marcel Rodriguez and Robert Rodriguez)
- 2001: Novocaine (Steve Bartek)
- 2007: Spider-Man 3 (Christopher Young, John Debney and Deborah Lurie; also includes material composed by Elfman for the first two films)
- 2010: Kick-Ass: "Walk to Rasul's" (John Murphy, Henry Jackman, Marius de Vries, and Ilan Eshkeri)
- 2011: Rango: "Finale from The Kingdom" (Hans Zimmer; not featured on the official soundtrack)
He has also written the theme music and occasional episodic scores for several television series, including:
- 1985: The New Alfred Hitchcock Presents: "The Jar" (directed by Tim Burton)
- 1985: Amazing Stories: "Mummy, Daddy" and "The Family Dog" (with Steve Bartek)
- 1986: Pee-wee's Playhouse (episodes: "Moster", "Cowboy and Cowtess", "Store", and "Pee-Wee Catches A Cold")
- 1986: Sledge Hammer!
- 1989: Tales from the Crypt
- 1989: Beetlejuice
- 1989: The Simpsons (theme only)
- 1990: The Flash (theme only)
- 1992: Batman: The Animated Series (theme only)
- 1997: Perversions of Science
- 1997: The New Batman/Superman Adventures (mistakingly listed; no original theme opening or scored episodes)
- 1999: Dilbert (theme only)
- 2004: Desperate Housewives (theme only)
- 2005: Point Pleasant
His other work includes:
- 2004: The opening title theme of the 2004 video game Fable.
- 2008: Soundtrack to the 2008 video game Lego Batman: The Videogame (various tracks from the soundtrack of the movie: Batman).
- 2008: The opening title theme as well as major themes of the 2008 video game Fable II.
- 2009: The opening title theme as well as major themes and soundtrack of the 2009 video game Wanted: Weapons of Fate.
- 2010: The opening title theme as well as major themes of the 2010 video game Fable III.
- 2013: Music for the upcoming Hong Kong Disneyland attraction Mystic Manor.
Awards and nominations
Award Wins Nominations Academy Awards 0 4 Annie Awards 0 1 BMI Film & Television Awards 24 24 British Academy Film Awards 0 1 Broadcast Film Critics Association Awards 0 2 Chicago Film Critics Association Awards 0 4 Emmy Awards 1 2 Golden Globe Awards 0 3 Grammy Awards 1 13 Phoenix Film Critics Society Awards 0 1 Satellite Awards 1 6 Saturn Awards 5 12 Sierra Awards 1 2 World Soundtrack Awards 0 4 Total 33 79
American Film Institute
- ^ "Composer Danny Elfman Scores First Emmy Award". http://www.bmi.com/news/entry/234561.
- ^ "Top Film, TV, Cable Composers Honored at BMI’s Annual Film/TV Awards". bmi.com. http://www.bmi.com/news/entry/233117. Retrieved 2010-10-28.
- ^ "Danny Elfman Biography (1953-)". Filmreference.com. http://www.filmreference.com/film/34/Danny-Elfman.html. Retrieved 2011-01-02.
- ^ Buhle, Paul (2007). Jews and American Popular Culture: Music, theater, popular art, and literature. ISBN 9780275987954. http://books.google.com/?id=AsPWAAAAMAAJ&q=danny+elfman+jewish&dq=danny+elfman+jewish.
- ^ "Danny Elfman 's Music For A Darkened People: Danny Elfman in L.A. Times". Elfman.filmmusic.com. http://elfman.filmmusic.com/elfman_la_times.html. Retrieved 2011-01-02.
- ^ "Buzzine". Buzzine. 2009-05-07. http://www.buzzine.com/2008/05/oingo-boingo/. Retrieved 2011-01-02.
- ^ "Video Entertainment Magazine interview, April 4, 1996". Boingo.org. 1996-04-04. http://www.boingo.org/articles/VideoEntertainment.html. Retrieved 2011-01-02.
- ^ a b "Fanfare Article". Boingo.org. http://www.boingo.org/articles/FanfareArticle.html. Retrieved 2011-01-02.
- ^ Salisbury, Burton, pp.137-144
- ^ Vozick-Levinson, Simon (November 2, 2010). "Aaron Sorkin writing Hugh Jackman's Houdini musical: Composer Danny Elfman has 'high hopes'". Popwatch.EW.com. http://popwatch.ew.com/2010/11/02/hugh-jackman-houdini-musical/. Retrieved December 4, 2010.
- Danny Elfman at the Internet Movie Database
- Danny Elfman at Allmusic
- Danny Elfman discography at Discogs
- Danny Elfman discography at MusicBrainz
- Danny Elfman's Music For A Darkened People
- The official Oingo Boingo website
- Danny Elfman podcast interview from Synthesis (magazine)
- Danny Elfman Interview With Entertainment Weekly
Studio albums Live albums Compilations Extended plays Singles Related articles Saturn Award for Best Music
Bernard Herrmann (1973) · Miklós Rózsa (1974/75) · David Raksin (1976) · John Williams/John Williams (1977) · John Williams (1978) · Miklós Rózsa (1979) · John Barry (1980) · John Williams (1981) · John Williams (1982) · James Horner (1983) · Jerry Goldsmith (1984) · Bruce Broughton (1985) · Alan Menken (1986) · Alan Silvestri (1987) · Christopher Young (1988) · Alan Silvestri (1989/90) · Loek Dikker (1991) · Angelo Badalamenti (1992) · Danny Elfman (1993) · Howard Shore (1994) · John Ottman (1995) · Danny Elfman (1996) · Danny Elfman (1997) · John Carpenter (1998) · Danny Elfman (1999) · James Horner (2000) · John Williams (2001) · Danny Elfman (2002) · Howard Shore (2003) · Alan Silvestri (2004) · John Williams (2005) · John Ottman (2006) · Alan Menken (2007) · James Newton Howard & Hans Zimmer (2008) · James Horner (2009) · Hans Zimmer (2010)Note: The years are listed as per convention, usually the year of film release; the ceremonies are usually held the next year.
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.