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Elliot Goldenthal (born May 2 1954) is an Americanmarker composer of contemporary classical music. He was a student of Aaron Copland and John Corigliano, and is best known for his distinctive style and ability to blend various musical styles and techniques in original and inventive ways.

Life and career

Goldenthal was born on May 2, 1954, as the youngest son of a Jewish housepainter father and a Catholic seamstress mother in Brooklynmarker, New York Citymarker, where he was influenced from an early age by music from all cultures and genres. He lived in a multi-cultural part of town, and this is reflected in his works. He attended John Dewey High School in Brooklyn where, at the age of 14, he had his very first ballet "Variations on Early Glimpses" performed; he continued to display his eclectic musical range, performing with rock bands in the 70's. He then studied music full time at the prestigious Manhattan School of Musicmarker, where he studied with composer John Corigliano (whom he greatly admired), to earn his Bachelor of Music degree (1977) and Master of Music (1979) in musical composition.

He lives in New York Citymarker "happily unmarried", as he once put it, with his partner Julie Taymor, whom he met in 1982 through a mutual acquaintance, who told him "I know a person whose work is just as grotesque as yours"; they have an office/apartment where they both live and work.

Goldenthal has written works for concert hall, theater, dance and film.His work includes music for films such as Alien 3, Michael Collins, Batman Forever, Heat and the Academy Award-winning score for Julie Taymor's "Frida", a movie in which Goldenthal had a small acting part as a "Newsreel Reporter". Incidentally he also had a small part in the stage show "Juan Darièn" as a "Circus Barker / Streetsinger". See below for links to individual score pages; some with audio samples.

The Tony-Award winning carnival mass Juan Darièn (1988/'96) and The Green Bird (1999), based on a story by Carlo Gozzi, are a few of the composer's theater works.

In 2006, Goldenthal completed his original 3-act opera with Taymor entitled Grendel an adaptation of the John Gardner novel which told the story of Beowulf from the monster's point of view. It had its world premiere in early June 2006 at the Los Angeles Opera, the role of Grendel performed by Eric Owens, with an audience containing the likes of John Williams and Emmy Rossum; the opus was added to the Los Angeles Opera's permanent repertoire and earned Goldenthal a nomination in April 2007 for the Pulitzer Prize for Music.

In April 2008 it was announced that Goldenthal will reunite with Michael Mann to score a 1930s gangster movie called Public Enemies and Goldenthal will also score another Julie Taymor Shakespeare adaptation in The Tempest, scheduled for 2009.

He cites acclaimed Japanese composer Tōru Takemitsu as an influence and someone he styles his own career on; Goldenthal has said that the lines between traditional concert music and orchestral film score have become more blurred which is the way he thinks it should be. He has also collaborated four times with Irish director Neil Jordan, scoring movies like Interview with the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles and In Dreams.


Elliot Goldenthal has been called by film-music collectors the "thinking man's composer" and a generally more cerebral choice for film makers and fans of film music alike. He is known for his often intense experimentation, intelligent nuances and willingness to try new and unconventional techniques and processes (For two good examples of this, see Alien 3 and Titus ). This experimental approach has led him to score movies in almost every genre from horror to action to Shakespeare adaptations; the only type of film he has not yet scored is comedy, but at the same time he has composed comedic motifs for several films such as Demolition Man and the more colourful Batman sequels, which are considered tongue-in-cheek types of movies in the first place. It is this openness to try his hand at anything which has gained him a lot of respect in the music and film communities and with fans. He is not as well known, or popular, as other film composers such as the "household names" John Williams or Hans Zimmer but he is widely appreciated among film score fans for his sheer musical abilities and distinctive style; a style, which though artistically appreciated among film music enthusiasts, some have said can be too experimental or inaccessible to the mainstream listener because of Goldenthals passion for defying the norms of contemporary classical music.

Atonal and brutal in his action music, sometimes in underscore and tends to use very fast French horn bending tones/whining; although Goldenthal himself has said that he doesn't "hear" atonal and tonal, rather "...I don't have any differentiation in my head between tonal and atonal, I either hear melody or I hear sonority — I don't hear atonal or tonal so much."

At the website a former classmate of Goldenthals replied to a piece on the Sphere score from 1998 saying that when he and Elliot were both studying at the Manhattan School of Music in the 70s Elliot was already experimenting with unusual techniques and when studying trumpet once, Elliot asked him to "buzz into the wrong end of the mouthpiece and sing into it as well", he thought he was crazy but looking back after a decade or so of Goldenthals film and concert music he said that he "...was just way ahead of the rest of us."

Respected cultural historian and critic Piero Scaruffi found fit to mention Goldenthal in lists of honour and general overview of film music on his website, placing three of Goldenthal's theatre works in a "Brief history of music through its milestone compositions" and putting his score for "Drugstore Cowboy" at number 27 in a list of "Best musicals of all time".

Lists of works

Film works

Goldenthal in the studio.

Concert music works

Theatre works

  • 1984 - Play, "The King Stag" (production of Carlo Gozzi's play by Andrei Serban)
  • 1985 - Musical, "Liberty's Taken" (an original musical co-created with David Suehsdorf and Julie Taymor)
  • 1986 - Musical, "The Transposed Heads" (adapted by Sidney Goldfarb and Julie Taymor from the novel by Thomas Mann)
  • 1988 - Play (Commedia), "The Serpent Woman" (production of Carlo Gozzi's Commedia)
  • 1988 - Musical, "Juan Darien: A Carnival Mass" (off-Broadway, reworked and recorded for Broadway in 1996; Co-bookwriter, lyricist, arranger of the Latin text.)
  • 1998 - Ballet, "Othello" (a ballet with choreography by Lar Lubovitch)
  • 1999 - Musical "The Green Bird" (on Broadway production of production of Carlo Gozzi's work)
    Stage director: Julie Taymor
  • 2006 - Opera, "Grendel" (opened June at Los Angeles Opera; not released on CD yet as of October 2009)
    Libretto: Julie Taymor and J D.

    McClatchy, after the novel Grendel by John Gardner, and the poem Beowulf
    Stage director: Julie Taymor

Awards and nominations

  • (2007) Pulitzer Prize for Music in Music Nomination for his acclaimed "Grendel" opera
  • (2004) Emmy Awards Nomination, "Great Performances: Dance in America" - Outstanding Music Composition for a Miniseries, Movie or a Special (Dramatic Underscore)
  • (2004) ASCAP Film and Television Music Awards Win, "S.W.A.T." - Top Box Office Film Score
  • (2003) World Soundtrack Awards 2003 Win, "Frida" - Best Original Soundtrack of the Year
  • (2003) World Soundtrack Awards 2003 Win, "Frida" - Soundtrack Composer of the Year
  • (2003) World Soundtrack Awards 2003 Nomination', "Burn It Blue" from "Frida" - Best Original Song Written for a Film
  • (2002) Academy Awards Win, "Frida" - Best Original Score
  • (2002) Academy Awards Nomination, "Frida", "Burn It Blue" - Best Original Song
  • (2002) Golden Globes Win, "Frida" - Best Original Score
  • (2002) World Soundtrack Awards 2002 Nomination, "The Dream Within" from "Final Fantasy: The Sprits Within" - Best Original Song Written for a Film
  • (1999) CFCA awards Nomination, "The Butcher Boy" - Best Original Score
  • (1998) ASCAP awards Win, "Batman & Robin" - Top Box Office Film Score
  • (1998) Chicago Film Critics Awards Nomination, "The Butcher Boy" - Best Original Score
  • (1998) Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards 1998 Win, "The Butcher Boy" - Best Original Score
  • (1997) Tony Awards Nomination, "Juan Darien: A Carnival Mass" (Broadwaymarker Production) - Best Original Musical Score
  • (1997) ASCAP awards Win, "A Time to Kill" - Top Box Office Film Score
  • (1997) Grammy Nomination, "Defile and Lament" from "A Time to Kill"
  • (1996) Academy Awards Nomination, "Michael Collins" - Best Original Score
  • (1996) Golden Globe Nomination, "Michael Collins" - Best Original Score
  • (1996) ASCAP awards Win, "Batman Forever" - Top Box Office Film Score
  • (1995) Grammy Nomination, "Batman Forever" - Best Instrumental Composition
  • (1995) ASCAP awards Win, "Interview with the Vampire" - Top Box Office Film Score
  • (1995) Golden Globe Nomination, "Interview with the Vampire" - Best Original Score
  • (1994) Academy Awards Nomination, "Interview with the Vampire" - Best Original Score
  • (1994) ASCAP awards Win, "Demolition Man" - Top Box Office Film Score
  • (1990) Edinburgh Festival Critics Choice Award Win, "Juan Darien: A Carnival Mass" - Best Music
  • (1990) American Academy of Arts and Letters Richard Rodgers Award Win, "Juan Darien: A Carnival Mass" - Best Music
  • (1988) Obie Award Win, "Juan Darien: A Carnival Mass" (Original Production) - Best Music

Among others including the Arturo Toscanini Award, the New Music for Young Ensembles composition prize, the Stephen Sondheim Award in Music Theater and a New York Foundation for the Arts fellowship.


Trailer music

A number of Goldenthal's cues (as is common with a lot of composers) have been used for trailer music, below is a list of known uses up to 2004.

Interview with the Vampire (1994) was used in:
Copycat (1995) - Theatrical Trailer

Alien III (1992) was used in:
The Animatrix (2003) - Theatrical Trailer
The Matrix Reloaded (2003) - TV Trailer
The Matrix (1999) - Theatrical Trailer
The Matrix (1999) - TV Trailer
The Village (2004) - Theatrical Trailer

Batman Forever (1995) was used in:
Batman & Robin (1997) - Theatrical Trailer
Batman Forever (1995) - Theatrical Trailer

Demolition Man (1993) was used in:
Evolution (2001) - Internet Trailer
Men in Black (1997) - Theatrical Trailer
Men in Black II (2002) - Teaser Trailer

Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within (2001) was used in:
The Manchurian Candidate (2004) - Teaser Trailer
Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow (2004) - Teaser Trailer

Heat: (1995) was used in:
L.A. Confidential (1997) - TV Trailer

See also


  1. Elliot Goldenthal - Family and Companions - Yahoo! Singapore Movies
  2. Elliot Goldenthal at
  3. Manhattan School of Music: Alumni Class Notes
  4. SoundtrackNet : Interview - Elliot Goldenthal
  5. Filmtracks: Elliot Goldenthal
  6. "Julie Taymor and Elliot Goldenthal: United in Their Love of the Outsider," by Don Shewey
  7. Elliot Goldenthal
  8. Elliot Goldenthal Concert & Stage: Juan Darien - A Carnival Mass (1996)
  9. 2007 Pulitzer Prize Winners - PRIZE IN MUSIC, Citation
  10. Page Title
  11. Upcoming Film Scores: Elliot Goldenthal: Public Enemies
  13. Elliot Goldenthal
  21. Elliot Goldenthal - Biography
  26. Michael Collins - The Filmmakers
  27. Film Composers
  28. SoundtrackNet Trailers : Elliot Goldenthal

External links

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