With the recent celebration of National Women’s Day on March 8, 2020 and Hildur Guðnadóttir’s momentous 2020 Oscar® win for Best Original Score for Warner Brothers’ Joker, Soundtracks, Scores and More honors women working in Hollywood’s world of music through a series of posts – each highlighting five female composers.
Of the top-grossing films of 2019, women comprised 7 percent of composers, 43 percent of music supervisors and 10 percent of supervising sound editors, according to the Women in Hollywood 2019 Statistics. We feature five women who are breaking barriers and creating some of the most extraordinary pieces of music along the way for our ongoing series. Hailing from all over the world, these women are proving that music is in fact genderless and without borders. Our playlist below includes these women and many other remarkable and influential composers!
The 92nd Oscars® held Feb. 9, 2020 saw Eimear Noone become the first woman to conduct the 42-piece orchestra. The Irish composer and conductor is no stranger to leading, as she was also the first woman to conduct at the National Concert Hall in Dublin, Ireland. Prior to the Academy Awards®, Noone established a career composing music for games, including Overwatch, World of Warcraft and The Legend of Zelda.
Noone studied music at Trinity College Dublin and co-founded the Dublin City Concert Orchestra with her classmate Jillian Saunders. Noone furthered her education at Screen Training in Dublin before moving to Los Angeles, California, and taking a film composing course at the UCLA Extension School Scoring Program. She has written music for film thrillers, such as 2008’s Mirrors and 2012’s The Hole.
Pop, indie, punk. The 2019 critically acclaimed Monos soundtrack composer Mica Levi, also known by their stage name Micachu, blends a variety of genres when crafting film scores. Levi’s 2013 score for Under the Skin earned them the 2014 BAFTA nomination for soundtrack, the 2014 European Film Awards Best Composer, 2014 Los Angeles Film Critics Association Best Original Score and 2015 International Film Music Critics Best Original Score.
Following Under the Skin, Levi has gone on to compose scores for 2016’s Jackie, 2017’s Marjorie Prime, 2019’s Monos, 2019’s The Fall and 2021’s Zola. Not to rest on her laurels, however, the England-native formed a band called Micachu and the Shapes, which focuses on experimental pop music, starting with its debut album Jewellery in 2009. As of 2016, the band is now called Good Sad Happy Bad.
From Istanbul, Turkey, to Los Angeles, California, film composer Pinar Toprak’s journey has been vast but inspiring. Toprak is the first woman to compose for Marvel, earning the coveted assignment of creating a captivating score for 2019’s Captain Marvel. She studied music from an early age, which led her to earn a degree in film scoring and a master’s degree by age 22. Toprak honed her craft by working alongside such industry talents as Hans Zimmer and William Ross.
It was Toprak’s own merits, however, that led her to amass a body of work, composing music for the wildly popular game Fortnite, the SYFY television series Kryton, The Lightkeepers and the additional music for 2017’s Justice League. Toprak’s honors include Academy Awards shortlist for Best Original Score for The Lighthouse, 2010’s International Film Music Critics Association Award for Best Comedy Score for The Lighthouse and 2011’s International Film Music Critics Association Award for Best Documentary Score for The Wind Gods. Toprak’s next project is It’s Time to be released April 2020.
Film composer Ariel Marx grew up in a musical family and began playing instruments early in life. Her love of music would take her to New York where she earned a master’s degree in music theory film composition from New York University’s film scoring program. Her connections while there would lead her to compose music for the Emmy®-nominated film The Tale, which premiered at the Sundance Festival in 2018 and was distributed by HBO Films. That same year, Marx composed music for 2018’s To Dust, 2018’s 10 Things We Should Do Before We Break Up. In 2020, she composed the score for Amazon’s Ted Bundy: Falling For a Killer.
Drawing from several genres, Marx’s scores have been hailed by critics as “Beautiful,” “Haunting” and “the Tom Waits” of the sonic world. A recipient of the ASCAP Foundation Henry Mancini Fellowship and listed as one of ASCAP’s Composers to Watch, Marx has also served as an adjunct professor at NYU’s Steinhardt School.
Isobel Waller-Bridge is an English-native who composes original scores for theater, film and television, including Hecuba at the Royal Shakespeare Company, 2017’s Williams and 2018’s The Split – both on the BBC. She composed music for the multiple award-winning series Fleabag, starring her sister, Golden Globe® and Emmy Award® winner Phoebe Waller-Bridge. Waller-Bridge’s recent work includes composing the score for 2020’s Emma.
Coming from a traditional musical background, Waller-Bridge studied music at Edinburgh University before earning her master’s degree from King’s College London while also earning a diploma in piano from the Royal Academy of Music that same year. Although her background lends to classical, her music has an electronic element. Critics called Waller-Bridge’s score for Vita and Virginia “the highlight of the film,” no doubt in part due to her incorporation of actress Elizabeth Debicki’s own heartbeat in the score.