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James Newton Howard (born June 9, 1951) is an American film score composer, orchestrator and music producer.

Early life and career

Howard was born in Los Angeles, Californiamarker. Throughout his career as a composer/musician/songwriter, he has scored films of all scales and genres, earning multiple award nominations for his work. Howard began studying music as a child and went on to attend the Thacher School in Ojai, Californiamarker; the Music Academy of the West in Santa Barbara, Californiamarker; and then majored in piano performance at the University of Southern Californiamarker. After Howard left college, he toured with Elton John as a keyboardist during the late 1970s and early 1980s as well as arranging strings for several of Elton's songs during this period including on the hits "Don't Go Breaking My Heart" and "Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word", as well as appearing on Elton's studio albums: "Rock of The Westies" (1975), "Blue Moves" (1976), "21 At 33" (1980), and "The Fox" (1981). After his tenure with John, Howard toured briefly with Crosby Stills and Nash before moving into film music in the mid-1980s. Howard did, however, collaborate briefly with Elton John in 1987 by conducting the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, where Elton performed a setlist of "Orchestrated" songs from his catalog.

He had a brief marriage to Rosanna Arquette in 1986 which lasted until 1987.


Howard scored the surprise blockbuster romantic comedy Pretty Woman (1990) and received his first Academy Award nomination for his score for Barbra Streisand's drama The Prince of Tides (1991). Setting the musical mood for numerous films throughout the decade, Howard's skills encompassed a plethora of genres, including four more best original score Oscar nominations, for the Harrison Ford actioner The Fugitive (1993), the Julia Roberts romantic comedy My Best Friend's Wedding (1997), M. Night Shyamalan's The Village (2004) and most recently, Michael Clayton (2008). In addition, Howard scored the Western epic Wyatt Earp (1994), Kevin Costner's Waterworld (1995), and Primal Fear (1996).His collaborations on tunes for One Fine Day (1996) and Junior (1994) garnered Best Song nods. Along with scoring such smaller, character-driven films as Five Corners (1988), Glengarry Glen Ross (1992), and American Heart (1993), Howard proved equally skilled at composing for big-budget Hollywoodmarker spectacles, including Space Jam (1996), Dante's Peak (1997) (theme only - score was composed by John Frizzell), and Collateral (2004). He has also scored three Disney feature films which are Dinosaur (2000) Treasure Planet and Atlantis: The Lost Empire. Though he concentrated primarily on films, Howard has also contributed music for TV series, earning an Emmy nomination in 1995 for his theme to NBC's ratings smash ER.

He has scored all of Shyamalan's suspense thrillers, The Sixth Sense (1999), Unbreakable (2000), Signs (2002), The Village (2004), Lady in the Water (2006), and The Happening (2008).

He married wife Sofie 1991 in a marriage that lasted 15 years, and has 2 children with her.


Howard is now one of the most recognized composers for film. On October 14, 2005, it was officially announced that James Newton Howard would replace Howard Shore as composer for King Kong, due to "differing creative aspirations for the score" between Shore and director Peter Jackson. The resultant score earned Howard his first Golden Globe nomination for Best Original Score. His work on Michael Clayton earned him an Oscar nomination. He followed in 2008 with his eighth Oscar nomination for Edward Zwick's Defiance. He also collaborated with Hans Zimmer on the scores for Batman Begins and its record-breaking sequel The Dark Knight.

Some of his most recent works are The Happening, his sixth film with M. Night Shyamalan, Blood Diamond, Michael Clayton, The Water Horse, I Am Legend and Charlie Wilson's War. It was also rumored, which has since been confirmed, that he will be composing music for the M. Night Shyamalan movie adaptation of the Nickelodeon series "Avatar: the Last Airbender." Additionally, in a radio interview from early 2008, James revealed that he will collaborate with Terrence Malick "in about a year," a project likely to be the director's upcoming Tree of Life (2009). However, it was later revealed that Alexandre Desplat will provide the score.

Howard debuted his work for symphony orchestra, I Would Plant A Tree, in February 2009 as part of the Pacific Symphony's annual American Composers Festival. The debut took place at the Renee and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall in Costa Mesa, California, with the Symphony under the direction of Carl St.Clair.

In 2009, he was awarded a Grammy along with Hans Zimmer for the soundtrack to The Dark Knight.

His theme song for the hit TV show ER was used for the final episode of the series.

Discography and filmography

Year Title
1974 James Newton Howard
1983 James Newton Howard and Friends
1985 Promised Land
1989 Major League
1990 Flatliners
1991 Dying Young
Grand Canyon
The Man in the Moon
My Girl
The Prince of Tides (Oscar Nomination)
1993 Falling Down
The Fugitive (Oscar Nomination)
1994 Junior (Oscar Nomination)
Wyatt Earp
1995 Just Cause
1996 Space Jam
1997 The Devil's Advocate
My Best Friend's Wedding (Oscar Nomination)
The Postman
1998 Stir of Echoes
1999 The Sixth Sense
Snow Falling on Cedars
Wayward Son
2000 Dinosaur
Vertical Limit
2001 Atlantis: The Lost Empire
2002 The Emperor's Club
Treasure Planet
2003 Peter Pan
2004 Hidalgo
The Village (Oscar Nomination)
2005 The Interpreter
Batman Begins (with Hans Zimmer)
King Kong
2006 Freedomland
Lady in the Water
Blood Diamond
2007 The Lookout (iTunes Exclusive)
I Am Legend
Michael Clayton (Oscar Nomination)
Charlie Wilson's War
The Great Debaters
The Water Horse: Legend of the Deep
2008 The Happening
The Dark Knight (with Hans Zimmer)
Defiance (Oscar Nomination)
2009 Duplicity
Confessions of a Shopaholic
2010 Salt
The Last Airbender

Awards and nominations

In May 2008 he was made an Honorary Member of the Royal Academy of Musicmarker.



See also


  1. USC Thornton School of Music : About Us: Board of Advisors: James Newton Howard
  2. James Newton Howard - film composer
  3. SoundtrackNet : News : James Newton Howard replaces Howard Shore on King Kong
  5. Pacific Symphony - Hollywood's Golden Age

External links

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