Danny Elfman: Wikis


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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Danny Elfman
Born Daniel Robert Elfman
May 29, 1953 (1953-05-29) (age 56)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Occupation composer, singer, record producer, actor, voice actor
Spouse(s) Bridget Fonda (2003–present) 1 child

Daniel Robert "Danny" Elfman (born May 29, 1953) is an American musician, best known for composing music for television and movies and leading the rock band Oingo Boingo as singer/songwriter from 1976 until its breakup in 1995. He is a frequent collaborator with long-time friend Tim Burton and has scored all of his films (with the exception of Ed Wood and Sweeney Todd). He has been nominated for four Academy Awards and won a Grammy Award for Tim Burton's Batman and an Emmy Award for his Desperate Housewives theme. Elfman is famous for creating The Simpsons main title theme, and his role as Jack Skellington's singing voice in The Nightmare Before Christmas. He also sang for the character Bone Jangles in the movie Corpse Bride He is the uncle in-law to actress Jenna Elfman.


Early life and career

Elfman was born in Los Angeles, California, the son of Blossom Elfman (née Bernstein), a writer and teacher, and Milton Elfman, a teacher who was in the Air Force.[1] Elfman grew up in a racially mixed community in the Baldwin Hills area of Los Angeles.[2] He spent much of his time in the local movie theatre, adoring the music of such film composers as Bernard Herrmann and Franz Waxman.

Stating that he hung out with the "band nerds" in high school, he started a ska band. After dropping out of high school, he followed his brother Richard to France,[citation needed] where he performed with Le Grand Magic Circus, an avant-garde musical theater group. Violin in tow, Elfman next journeyed to Africa where he traveled through Ghana, Mali, and Upper Volta, absorbing new musical styles, including the Ghanaian highlife genre which would eventually influence his own music.[citation needed] Elfman contracted malaria during his one-year stay and was often sick. Eventually he returned home to the United States, where his brother was forming a new musical theater group, The Mystic Knights of the Oingo Boingo. The group performed the music for Richard's debut feature film, Forbidden Zone. Danny Elfman composed his first score for the film and played the role of Satan. By the time the movie was completed, they had taken the name Oingo Boingo and begun recording and touring as a rock group.

Elfman and Tim Burton

In 1985, Tim Burton and Paul Reubens invited Elfman to write the score for their first feature film, Pee-wee's Big Adventure. Elfman was apprehensive at first because of his lack of formal training, but with orchestration assistance from Oingo Boingo guitarist and arranger Steve Bartek, he achieved his goal of emulating the mood of such composers as Nino Rota and Bernard Herrmann.[3] In the booklet for the first volume of Music for a Darkened Theatre, Elfman described the first time he heard his music played by a full orchestra as one of the most thrilling experiences of his life.[citation needed] Elfman immediately developed a rapport with Burton[3] and has gone on to score all but two of Burton's major studio releases: Ed Wood, scored by Howard Shore, which was under production while Elfman and Burton were having a fight, and Sweeney Todd, an adaptation of the 1979 Stephen Sondheim Broadway musical.

Burton has said of his relationship with Elfman: "We don't even have to talk about the music. We don't even have to intellectualize – which is good for both of us, we're both similar that way. We're very lucky to connect" (Breskin, 1997).

Musical influences

He recalls that the first time he became aware of film music was in his youth during a screening of The Day the Earth Stood Still (Robert Wise, 1951). The music was by Bernard Herrmann, and that, he has said, was where his love of film music began (Russell and Young, 2000). Elfman purposefully nodded towards Herrmann's The Day the Earth Stood Still score in Tim Burton's sci-fi spoof Mars Attacks!

Other film composers have also proven to be influential, such as Nino Rota and Erich Wolfgang Korngold, the former in Elfman's playful music for Pee-wee's Big Adventure, the latter in his much grander work, Batman. Sometimes his music has a distinctly Russian feel, inspired by the likes of Prokofiev, Stravinsky and Tchaikovsky’s ballet music, while his frequent use of choirs reflects his love of choral music by the likes of Mozart and Carl Orff. Jazz and rock influences from his earlier career are evident in such films as Chicago and To Die For.

Hearing damage

When asked during a 2007 phone-in interview on XETRA-FM if he ever had any notions of performing in an Oingo Boingo reunion, Elfman immediately rejected the idea and stated that in the last few years with the band he had begun to develop significant and irreversible hearing damage as a result of his continuous exposure to the high noise levels involved in performing in a rock band. He went on to say that he believes his hearing damage is partially due to a genetic predisposition to hearing loss, and that he will never return to the stage for fear of worsening not only his condition but also his bandmates'.

Recent works

Elfman has recently started working in the classical world, beginning with Serenada Schizophrana for the American Composers Orchestra. It was conducted by John Mauceri on its recording and by Steven Sloane at its premiere at Carnegie Hall in New York City on February 23, 2005. After its premiere, it was recorded in studio and released onto SACD on October 3, 2006. The meeting with Mauceri proved fruitful as the composer was encouraged then to write a new concert piece for Mauceri and the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra. Elfman composed an "overture to a nonexistent musical" and called the piece "The Overeager Overture."

Personal life

Elfman has three children, Lola, born in 1979, Mali, born in 1986, and Oliver, born in 2005. On November 29, 2003, Elfman married film actress Bridget Fonda. In 1997 he scored A Simple Plan - his only score for one of her films to date (although he did compose a cue for the film Army of Darkness, in which Fonda has a cameo).


This is a list of films where Elfman appears as an actor, or with Oingo Boingo:

Year Film Role Notes
1977 I Never Promised You a Rose Garden Yri drummer Also featured Richard Elfman
1980 Forbidden Zone Satan Directed by Richard Elfman
1981 Urgh! A Music War Himself Part of Oingo Boingo
1984 Good Morning, Mr. Orwell Himself Part of Oingo Boingo
1986 Back to School Himself Part of Oingo Boingo
1993 The Nightmare Before Christmas Jack Skellington (singing), Barrel Voice only
2005 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Oompa-Loompas (singing) Voice only
Corpse Bride Bonejangles Voice only
2006 Finding Kraftland Himself Documentary directed by Elfman's agent, Richard Kraft

This is a list of films with scores composed by Elfman:

Year Film Director Film Score/Soundtrack
1980 Forbidden Zone Richard Elfman Soundtrack (soundtrack with The Mystic Knights of Oingo Boingo)
1982 Fast Times at Ridgemont High Amy Heckerling Soundtrack (soundtrack released by Elektra)
1985 Pee-wee's Big Adventure Tim Burton Soundtrack (film score, rerecording paired with Back to School)
1986 Back to School Alan Metter Soundtrack (film score, rerecording paired with Pee-wee's Big Adventure)
1987 Summer School Carl Reiner Soundtrack (includes one Elfman song; no score)
Wisdom Emilio Estevez, Robert Wise Soundtrack released by Varese Sarabande
1988 Beetlejuice Tim Burton Soundtrack
Midnight Run Martin Brest Soundtrack released by MCA
Big Top Pee-wee Randal Kleiser Soundtrack (including dialogue) released by Arista, reissued by PEG
Hot to Trot Michael Dinner Suite included on Music for a Darkened Theatre, Vol. 1
Scrooged Richard Donner Suite included on Music for a Darkened Theatre, Vol. 1
1989 Batman Tim Burton Soundtrack
1990 Nightbreed Clive Barker Soundtrack released by MCA
Dick Tracy Warren Beatty Soundtrack
Darkman Sam Raimi Soundtrack
Edward Scissorhands Tim Burton Soundtrack
1992 Article 99 Howard Deutch Soundtrack released by Varese Sarabande
Batman Returns Tim Burton Soundtrack released by Warner Bros. Records
1993 Sommersby Jon Amiel Soundtrack released by Elektra
The Nightmare Before Christmas Henry Selick Soundtrack
1994 Black Beauty Caroline Thompson Soundtrack
1995 Dolores Claiborne Taylor Hackford Soundtrack released by Varese Sarabande
Dead Presidents Alberl Hughes Soundtrack (one Elfman track; suite also included on Music for a Darkened Theatre Vol. 2)
To Die For Gus Van Sant Soundtrack released by Varese Sarabande (score + songs)
1996 Mission: Impossible Brian De Palma Soundtrack (songs + three brief Elfman suites); Score album
The Frighteners Peter Jackson Soundtrack
Freeway Matthew Bright Suite included on Music for a Darkened Theatre Vol. 2
Extreme Measures Michael Apted Soundtrack released by Varese Sarabande
Mars Attacks! Tim Burton Soundtrack released by Atlantic; expanded edition released by La-La Land Records
1997 Men in Black Barry Sonnenfeld Soundtrack (two Elfman cues); Score album
Flubber Les Mayfield Soundtrack released by Walt Disney Records
Good Will Hunting Gus Van Sant Soundtrack (two Elfman cues)
1998 A Simple Plan Sam Raimi Soundtrack released by Compass III
1999 Instinct Jon Turteltaub Soundtrack
Anywhere But Here Wayne Wang Soundtrack released by Atlantic (includes one score suite)
Sleepy Hollow Tim Burton Soundtrack
2000 Proof of Life Taylor Hackford Soundtrack released by Varese Sarabande
The Family Man Brett Ratner Soundtrack released by Sire Records (two Elfman cues)
2001 Planet of the Apes Tim Burton Soundtrack released by Sony Classical
2002 Spider-Man Sam Raimi Score album; Song album
Men in Black II Barry Sonnenfeld Soundtrack released by Columbia Records
Red Dragon Brett Ratner Soundtrack released by Decca Records
Chicago Rob Marshall Soundtrack (two Elfman tracks)
2003 Hulk Ang Lee Soundtrack released by Columbia Records
Big Fish Tim Burton Soundtrack
2004 Spider-Man 2 Sam Raimi Soundtrack; Score album
2005 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Tim Burton Soundtrack
Corpse Bride Tim Burton Soundtrack
2006 Deep Sea 3D Howard Hall Serenada Schizophrana
Nacho Libre Jared Hess Soundtrack (score suite)
Charlotte's Web Gary Winick Soundtrack
2007 Meet the Robinsons Stephen Anderson Soundtrack
The Kingdom Peter Berg Soundtrack released by Varese Sarabande
2008 Standard Operating Procedure Errol Morris Soundtrack
Wanted Timur Bekmambetov Soundtrack
Hellboy II: The Golden Army Guillermo del Toro Soundtrack released by Varese Sarabande
Milk Gus Van Sant Soundtrack released by Decca Records
2009 Notorious George Tillman, Jr. Soundtrack (one Elfman track)
Terminator Salvation McG Soundtrack released by Warner Bros. Records
Taking Woodstock Ang Lee Song soundtrack on Rhino Records with four Elfman cues; score album on La-La Land Records
2010 The Wolfman Joe Johnston Soundtrack released by Varese Sarabande
Alice in Wonderland Tim Burton Soundtrack released by Walt Disney Records
The Green Hornet Michael Gondry
2011 Restless Gus Van Sant

In addition, he has supplied the main themes - except where noted - for movies scored by others (names in brackets):

He has also written the theme music for several television series, including:

His other work includes:

  • 2004: The opening title theme of the 2004 video game Fable.
  • 2008: Soundtrack to the 2008 video game Lego Batman: The Video Game (various tracks from the soundtrack of the movie: Batman).
  • 2008: The opening title theme as well as major themes of the 2008 video game Fable II.
  • 2009: The opening title theme as well as major themes and soundtrack of the 2009 video game Wanted: Weapons of Fate.

Awards and nominations

Award Wins Nominations
Academy Awards 0 4
Annie Awards 0 1
BMI Film & Television Awards 24 24
British Academy Film Awards 0 1
Broadcast Film Critics Association Awards 0 2
Chicago Film Critics Association Awards 0 4
Emmy Awards 1 2
Golden Globe Awards 0 2
Grammy Awards 1 10
Phoenix Film Critics Society Awards 0 1
Satellite Awards 1 6
Saturn Awards 5 12
Sierra Awards 1 2
World Soundtrack Awards 0 2
Total 33 73


External links


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Daniel Robert Elfman (born May 29, 1953) is an American singer-songwriter who led the rock band Oingo Boingo from 1978 until its breakup in 1995, and has since gone on to become one of the most sought-after film score composers working in Hollywood today. He has written the scores for numerous films (including Wanted, Hellboy II: The Golden Army, Charlie And The Chocolate Factory, The Nightmare Before Christmas) as well as composing themes to several TV shows, including The Simpsons, Desperate Housewives, and Tales From The Crypt.


  • We don't wanna leave you, but...but we got to...wish this point right here, wish it could last forever right now! Yeah...it's kinda like one big orgasm!
    • Spoken before the performance of Only A Lad from Oingo Boingo's farewell concert on October 31, 1995 (which was released on CD, VHS and DVD).
  • You'll never get me into a tux. Not until I'm dead and I have no choice because that's what the undertaker put me in.
  • It'll say, 'Danny Elfman, who wrote the theme to 'The Simpsons,' etcetera...That's what I'll be remembered for.
    • On what he believes will be his obituary, from the Los Angeles Times cover story, "A Different Beat", 1999.


  • Like The Nightmare Before Christmas, writing songs for Corpse Bride was a real treat. Tim's visuals make the perfect complement for the kind of stuff I love doing most. These wonderfully fun, dark, offbeat tales are the perfect platform for me to write odd, slightly twisted, obscure styles such as my favorite musical era... 1930s jazz. I only hope we get to do more in the future.
  • I get drawn to things that don`t make any sense, and I learned early on not to resist that.
  • My education in film music came from watching tons of films.
  • For me, writing something in the spirit of Halloween is like Mother Teresa writing on charity and sacrifice. It's just second nature to me.
  • Then on the other hand I don't make it easy for those types to meet me, I'm sure. I live pretty privately, let's say. So I've not yet met a film score groupie. If they're out there, then we're keeping ourselves all well hidden from each other.
  • There is a shadow in the wind. I think a tragedy awaits me.

External links

Wikipedia has an article about:

Simple English

Danny Elfman (May 29, 1953 in Los Angeles, California) is an American singer-songwriter and composer. He is famous for the music he wrote for many movies and television shows. From 1978 until 1995 Elfman was a member of the rock band Oingo Boingo. In 2003, he married actress Bridget Fonda and has one child with her.


Some of his music

Elfmans has written music dozens of movies and for television. Some of the things he has worked on include:


Working with Tim Burton

In 1985, Elfman met director Tim Burton. Burton had seen Elfman perform as a member of Oingo Boingo. Burton asked Elfman to work with him on his first full length movie Pee-Wee's Big Adventure. Elfman worked with Burton on all but two of Burton's movies. The movies he worked on include:


Elfman has been nominated for many awards in the music and movie business.

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