10 Extraordinary Partnerships Between Composers and Directors

By Jonathan R. Lack On February 18th, 2013

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I find the relationship between music and film not only fascinating, but absolutely essential to my understanding and enjoyment of the medium. Good music does not guarantee a good film, of course, but the best movies tend to be the ones that make the most meaningful use of music, and the greatest scores are almost always written for truly incredible works of art.

Thus, one of the most important and interesting relationships in the world of film is the one shared by a director and composer. Many of history’s greatest directors tend to collaborate with one composer over the arc of their careers, and visa versa. Music is such a large component of cinematic identity that many filmmakers we consider ‘auteurs’ would not be as immediately identifiable if they did not work with the same composer time and time again. This is not always the case, as many top-notch directors either de-prioritize score or do not rely on original music at all, but for many filmmakers, analyzing the creative partnership they share with a regular composer is key to interpreting their work.

These are the filmmakers and composers we celebrate today, counting down 10 highly significant and impressive director/composer relationships. They are ranked roughly, but only by my own personal preference, and include a mix of modern and historical filmmakers. The criteria was fairly loose – a notable director and composer who worked together multiple times – though I have tended to shy away from collaborations still in flux – such as Christopher Nolan and Hanz Zimmer, for instance – focusing instead on relationships already cemented in film history.

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