Thomas Newman: Composer

His music will give you all the feels.


Thomas Newman

Thomas Newman is an American composer with more than 50 film scores under his belt. He has added 12 Academy Awards and three Golden Globe nominations, two BAFTAs, 6 Grammys and an Emmy to his legacy. His talent was passed to him from his father, Alfred Newman who was best known for his work composing music for The King and I (1956), Modern Times (1936) and The Grapes of Wrath (1940).

He is most famous for composing scores for American Beauty, Shawshank Redemption, a number of Pixar movies and my favorite: Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events.

lemony-snickets-a-series-of-unfortunate-events-music-composerThe movie itself was good, not great. It is a mix of somber story telling and delightful humor presented through the talent of Jim Carrey and Meryl Streep. Newman does an excellent job with portraying this tone and capturing the mood of each scene throughout the entire film using a consistent epic theme from start to finish.

He helps to create personas for the characters through the score. When Count Olaf (the villain) is on the scene Newman created a devilish kind of theme, and for the children a more light, innocent theme.


My favorite piece from this album is The Letter That Never Came. This is playing when the children receive a letter from their deceased parents – a letter that was supposed to arrive long before then. They find this in the remains of their once, magnificent family home. It is filled with glowing advice from their parents that the eldest sibling, Violet, reads aloud while they stand in the ash of their memory. While this juxtaposing scene is playing out, this song is accompanying it in the background.

The delicate piano you here is Newman himself – he always plays the piano in his own work. This, accompanied by a harmonious mixture of strings, woodwinds and gentle percussion, creates an environment that makes it seem that maybe the children are safe, but even for a minute, in the dark place they have found themselves in.

To be able to take the audience out of the darkness that has enveloped the film thus far and make them feel this happiness and give them hope for the children, is inspiring.

Watch the scene Here.

When I listen to this song, I close my eyes and the world just kind of falls away. It’s remarkably soothing and allows me to escape for a moment of peace regardless if I’m in a room packed with people, or just trying to catch that one moment in the middle of a maddening day.

The effect that it has on me is what I believe Newman wanted the audience to feel during this scene – that there is hope. Mission accomplished.

Try it. Listen to it now. Like really listen to it.

Then, next time you’re feeling overwhelmed plug in your headphones and let the world fall away. Let me know how it goes.

And then, if you have a raining afternoon sometime you should watch the movie. It’s entertaining, will give you a few laughs (especially the outtakes), and you can watch for this scene.

Happy Listening.


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