There was a certain inevitably about Newman pursuing a career in musical composition, as it would be a gross understatement to say that he was born into a musical family. Many, if not most of his relatives have been musicians; his father Alfred Newman was a nine time Academy Award winning composer, his mother Martha Montgomery Newman had been a 'Samuel Goldwyn girl' during the heyday of musical movies and her second husband was the composer Robert O. Ragland. Thomas's brother David and sister Maria are also composers, his cousin is the legendary singer/songwriter Randy Newman and his uncles included the composers Lionel Newman and Emil Newman. That under any circumstance is a staggering list of talent.
Having taken violin and piano lessons as a child he attended both the University of Southern California and Yale University where he studied music and graduated with a Bachelor Of Arts and a Master Of Music degree. In one of his early works, the musical theatre production Three Mean Fairy Tales he was encouraged by his mentor Stephen Sondheim before he spent several years as keyboards player with the rock band The Innocents and then the experimental group Tokyo 77. Newman's late father and uncle had been musical directors for 20th Century Fox and Goldwyn studios during Hollywood's Golden Age and in 1979 Lionel gave his nephew his first professional project working on the score for an episode of the popular US TV series The Paper Chase. His uncle Lionel would also provide his introduction to legendary composer John Williams who invited Newman to work on the orchestration of the scene where Darth Vader dies in the George Lucas movie Star Wars Episode IV: Return Of The Jedi.
In 1984 Newman's friend, producer Scott Rudin took him on as musical assistant and composer on the Daryl Hannah, Aiden Quinn teen movie Reckless and the same year he composed soundtracks for Revenge Of The Nerds and Grandview, U.S.A.. Over the next few years he established himself as one of the most innovative and prolific new composers for film with his credits including; Desperately Seeking Susan (1985), Girls Just Want To Have Fun (1985), The Man With One Red Shoe (1985), Real Genius (1985), Gung Ho (1986), Jumpin Jack Flash (1986), Light Of Day (1987), The Lost Boys (1987), Less Than Zero (1987), The Great Outdoors (1988), The Prince Of Pennsylvania (1988), Cookie (1989), Men Don t Leave (1990), Welcome Home, Roxy Carmichael (1990), Career Opportunities (1991), The Linguini Incident (1991), Naked Tango (1991), The Rapture (1991), Deceived (1991), Fried Green Tomatoes (1991), The Player (1992), Whispers In The Dark (1992), Scent Of A Woman (1992), Flesh And Bone (1993), Josh And S.A.M. (1993), Threesome (1994), The Favor (1994), Little Women (1994), The Shawshank Redemption (1994), The War (1994), Unstrung Heroes (1994), How To Make An American Quilt (1995), Up Close & Personal (1996), Phenomenon (1996), American Buffalo (1996), The People Vs. Larry Flynt (1996), Red Corner (1997), Mad City (1997), Oscar And Lucinda (1997), The Horse Whisperer (1998), Meet Joe Black (1998), The Green Mile (1999), American Beauty (1999), Erin Brockovich (2000), Pay It Forward (2000), In The Bedroom (2001), The Salton Sea (2002), Road To Perdition (2002), White Oleander (2002), Finding Nemo (2003), Lemony Snicket's A Series Of Unfortunate Events (2004), Cinderella Man (2005), Jarhead (2005), The Good German (2006), Little Children (2006), Towelhead (2007), WALL-E (2008), Revolutionary Road (2008), Brothers (2009), The Adjustment Bureau (2011), The Help (2011), The Debt (2011), The Iron Lady (2011), The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (2012), Skyfall (2012), Side Effects (2013) and Saving Mr. Banks (2013).
Newman's work isn't just confined to the big screen and his television credits include Amazing Stories (1985), Heat Wave (1990), Those Secrets (1992), Citizen Cohn (1992), Boston Public (2000), Six Feet Under (2001), Angels In America (2003) and The Newsroom (2012). One of the most experimental composers working today Newman's composer father Alfred would certainly recognise the piano and the traditional acoustic instruments his son utilises but would find the synthesisers and computers totally alien. It's often this combination of modern and traditional that he brings to bear in his composing and the contrast between orchestral and electronic sounds that elevates his scores above many of his contemporaries. Newman's work has been hugely celebrated and while he has received no fewer than a dozen Oscar nominations he has won six Grammy Awards for Six Feet Under (x2), WALL-E (x2), American Beauty and Skyfall, BAFTA's for American Beauty and Skyfall, an Emmy for Six Feet Under, an Annie for Finding Nemo, a Classical Brit Award for Revolutionary Road a World Soundtrack Award for WALL-E' and he is also the recipient of the BMI's prestigious Richard Kirk Award for outstanding career achievement. Given that he potentially has many more years of professional work his achievement is nothing less than staggering; both in output and quality.
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