Danny Elfman Biography

Daniel Robert Elfman, 29 May 1953, Los Angeles County, California, USA. Elfman quit school in his late teens and with his older brother, Richard Elfman, spent time in France, then moved to West Africa. Back in the USA in the late 70s, he joined rock band Oingo Boingo, led by his brother, and also worked in 1980 on music for Richard’s 1980 film, Forbidden Zone, in which he also appeared. Attracted to film music, Elfman admired composers Bernard Herrmann, Erich Wolfgang Korngold, Nino Rota and Franz Waxman. His leaning towards dark and brooding work drew him to gothic films when he began composing for films and television, and he developed a special rapport with directors Tim Burton and Sam Raimi. Unusually for Hollywood film composers, Elfman is self-taught, a factor that some suggest lies behind the tardiness attending recognition of his work although he has had many nominations for numerous Oscars, Emmy, Golden Globe, BAFTA and Grammy Awards.

Among films on which Elfman has worked are Pee-wee’s Big Adventure (1985), Beetle Juice (1988), Batman (1989, Grammy Award winner), Dick Tracy and Edward Scissorhands (both 1990), Batman Returns (1992), Sommersby and The Nightmare Before Christmas (both 1993), Black Beauty (1994), Dolores Claiborne (1995), Freeway, Mission: Impossible and Mars Attacks! (all 1996), Men In Black and Good Will Hunting (both 1997, both Oscar-nominated), A Civil Action (1998), Instinct and Sleepy Hollow (both 1999), Proof Of Life (2000), Planet Of The Apes (2001), Spider-Man, Men In Black II, Red Dragon and Chicago (all 2002), Hulk and Big Fish (both 2003, the latter nominated for an Oscar, Golden Globe and Grammy), Spider-Man 2 (2004), Charlie And The Chocolate Factory (2005), Charlotte’s Webb (2006), Meet The Robinsons and The Kingdom (both 2007).

On television, Elfman composed the theme for The Simpsons (1989), for which he was Emmy-nominated, and he also composed music for the animated series Batman (1992), including the theme, Desperate Housewives (2004), including the Emmy-winning theme, Shadows Of The Bat and Point Pleasant (both 2005), including the theme for the latter. Among his other works is the video Cosmic Symphonies: Elfman In Space (2002). Elfman, who is married to actress Bridget Fonda, has also appeared on-screen in a few films and has supplied an off-screen voice in others.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

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