Born in 1951, James Newton Howard’s youth was rooted in the study of classical music. With a grandmother who performed the violin with the Pittsburgh Symphony, Howard began lessons on the piano that would eventually culminate in a classical education at Santa Barbara’s Music Academy of the West.
Though always fond of orchestral strings, Howard was drawn into the world of pop rock during the 1960’s and 1970’s. After performing keyboards with the Southern California band “Mama Lion” in the early 70’s, Howard produced a few solo albums featuring the advancing technologies of Yamaha keyboards. It was during that time that Howard made a living as a session keyboard artist, often programming synthesizers for the likes of Diana Ross, Carly Simon, Ringo Starr, and others. In the mid-1970’s, Howard was contacted by Elton John, and he soon became John’s regular keyboardist. The collaboration included album performances through 1981, and eventually included a tour with John in 1986. While on tour, Howard began experimenting with other career avenues. Howard had the opportunity to orchestrate and conduct Elton John’s live performance in Australia. He became acquinted with the popular rock band Toto, fresh off of their cult score for Dune, and Howard’s music is performed by Toto members to this day. His knack for superior string arrangements led to recordings for which he orchestrated and conducted the London Symphony Orchestra.
It was then, in the mid-1980’s, that Howard stumbled upon film scoring. His first score was forHead Office in 1986, and while the films he composed for over the next five years were extremely forgettable, Howard’s name was beginning to filter to very well known Hollywood directors. His career skyrocketed in 1991, when he was nominated for an Academy Award for The Prince of Tides and also successfully scored Man in the Moon and Grand Canyon. He expanded his work to television, scoring many popular themes. His Emmy nominated theme for E.R. in 1994 has since given him a comfortable financial situation, earning him royalties for each episode. He has won and been nominated for other Emmys and Grammys, and has received Academy Award nominations for The Fugitive, My Best Friend’s Wedding, and The Village as well as several songs.
Some of his works:
- The Hunger Games – Mockingjay (Part 2) (2015)
- The Hunger Games – Mockingjay (Part 1) (2014)
- Maleficent (2014)
- The Hunger Games – Catching Fire (2013)
- Snow white and the Huntsman (2012)
- The Tourist (2010)
- Love and other drugs (2010)
- Salt (2010)
- Nanny McPhee returns (2010)
- The Dark Knight (co-writer) (2008)
- Charlie Wilson’s War (2007)
- Lady in the water (2006)