Danny Elfman

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Award-Winning Composer

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Danny Elfman: Biography at a Glance

  • Throughout his career spanning three decades, Danny Elfman has established himself as one of the most versatile, accomplished, and popular film composers in history.
  • Danny has scored more than 100 films, garnered four Academy Award nominations, a Grammy Award, a Golden Globe Award, and two Emmy Awards.
  • He has collaborated with directors, such as Gus Van Sant, Sam Raimi, Peter Jackson, Ang Lee, Guillermo del Toro, Brian De Palma, and David O. Russell, but is best-known for his ongoing collaboration with Tim Burton.
  • Perhaps no project has been more valuable than The Nightmare Before Christmas, which remains a merchandizing juggernaut. The film continues to be re-released in theaters annually and boasts an annual live show at the Hollywood Bowl.
  • Danny is also an accomplished producer, singer, songwriter, and actor. In the late 1970s, he founded the popular new wave band Oingo Boingo. The band’s eclectic mix of pop, ska, rock, and world music gained them a substantial cult following that remains to this day.


For over 30 years, four-time Oscar nominee Danny Elfman, has established himself as one of the most versatile and accomplished film composers in the industry. He has collaborated with directors such as Tim Burton, Gus Van Sant, Sam Raimi, Peter Jackson, Ang Lee, Rob Minkoff, Guillermo del Toro, Brian De Palma, James Ponsoldt and David O’ Russell.

Beginning with his first score on Tim Burton’s Pee-wee’s Big Adventure, Elfman has scored over 100 films, including:  Milk (Oscar nominated), Good Will Hunting (Oscar nominated), Big Fish (Oscar nominated), Men in Black (Oscar nominated), Edward ScissorhandsBatman, To Die For, The Nightmare Before Christmas, Alice in WonderlandSilver Linings PlaybookAmerican HustleAvengers: Age of Ultron, Spiderman, A Simple Plan, Midnight RunSommersby, Dolores Claiborne,and the Errol Morris documentaries The Unknown Known, and Standard Operating Procedure. Elfman’s other scores include the Warner Bros. blockbuster Justice League, Gus Van Sant’s Don’t Worry He Won’t Get Far On FootThe Grinch for Universal, Tim Burton’s live action remake of Disney’s Dumbo, Sony Pictures Men In Black: International and the Universal Pictures’ family comedy The Voyage of Doctor Dolittle starring Robert Downey Jr. and Tom Holland. Upcoming for Elfman is 20th Century Studios’ crime drama feature The Woman In The Window starring Amy Adams and Gary Oldman.

A native of Los Angeles, Elfman grew up loving film music. He travelled the world as a young man, absorbing its musical diversity. He helped found the band Oingo Boingo, and came to the attention of a young Tim Burton, who asked him to write the score for Pee-wee’s Big Adventure. 34 years later, the two have forged one of the most fruitful composer-director collaborations in film history. In addition to his film work, Elfman wrote the iconic theme music for the television series The Simpsons and Desperate Housewives.

Elfman has expanded his writing to composing orchestral concert works which include: Serenada Schizophrana, a symphony commissioned by the American Composer’s Orchestra, which premiered at Carnegie Hall in 2005, Rabbit and Rogue, for the American Ballet Theater choreographed by Twyla Tharp, performed at The Metropolitan Opera house in 2008, and Iris for Cirque du Soleil directed by French choreographer Philippe Decouflé.  In 2011, Danny Elfman’s Music from the Films of Tim Burton live orchestral concert, premiered at Royal Albert Hall, and has since toured around the world and won two Emmys.

In 2017 Elfman premiered his first violin concerto in Prague, which was performed by the Czech National Orchestra.  This year, his first Piano Quartet commissioned by the Berlin Philharmonic Piano Quartet will premiere in the fall at the Berlin Philharmonie.

“I need to push myself into new territory with fresh challenges as much as I can and whenever I can. I am told I have a recognizable style but my greatest pleasure is when I can surprise the audience with my music.”

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