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Carter Burwell

Carter Burwell
Birth name Carter Benedict Burwell[1]
Born (1955-11-18) November 18, 1955
New York City, New York, United States
Occupation(s) Film composer

Carter Benedict Burwell (born November 18, 1955) is an American composer of film scores.


  • Early life and education 1
  • Career 2
  • Personal life 3
  • Filmography 4
    • Films 4.1
    • Television 4.2
  • References 5
  • External links 6

Early life and education

Burwell was born in New York City, the son of Natalie (née Benedict), a math teacher, and Charles Burwell, who founded Thaibok Fabrics, Ltd.[1] He graduated from King School in Stamford, Connecticut,[2] and Harvard College, where he was a cartoonist for The Harvard Lampoon.


As a film composer, Burwell has had a long-working relationship with the Coen brothers, providing music for every film they have made (except for O Brother, Where Art Thou? and Inside Llewyn Davis, which had folk music soundtracks produced by T-Bone Burnett). He enjoys working with left-field directors, such as Spike Jonze. Among his best known film scores are Miller's Crossing (1990), And the Band Played On (1993), Conspiracy Theory (1997), Hamlet (2000), The Spanish Prisoner (1997), Before the Devil Knows You're Dead (2007), In Bruges (2008), Twilight (2008), Where The Wild Things Are (2009), The Blind Side (2009), and Breaking Dawn Part 1 (2011). Burwell wrote and recorded the original score for the film The Bourne Identity, but his version was replaced by director Doug Liman for one by John Powell.[3]

Ultimately the ethos of the punk rock movement gave him the impetus to start performing. He performed in New York with several bands, notably The Same, Thick Pigeon, and Radiante. Burwell played in Thick Pigeon with Stanton Miranda; the group released two albums, Too Crazy Cowboys (Factory) and tracks on Miranda Dali (Crepuscule), originally released as a Miranda solo project but later reissued as a Thick Pigeon release. On Burwell's soundtrack for Psycho III, Miranda was a featured singer.

By 1986 he had composed the music for a dance piece, RAB, which premiered at the Avignon Festival. At the same time, he was touring worldwide with The Harmonic Choir, David Hykes' experimental vocal group which specialized in overtone singing.

Burwell used the country music genre as the basis for his score for the Coens' Raising Arizona in 1987. From 1982 to 1987, he worked at the New York Institute of Technology.[4]

His work has alternated between live performance, dance and theatre commissions, and film scoring. His chamber opera The Celestial Alphabet Event was presented in New York in 1991 and other theatre pieces include Mother (1994) and Lucia's Chapters (2007), both with the experimental theatre group Mabou Mines.

In April 2005, Burwell composed and conducted music, performed by The Parabola Ensemble, for the plays Sawbones written and directed by the Coen Brothers, Hope Leaves the Theater written and directed by Charlie Kaufman, and Anomalisa written and directed by Kaufman as Francis Fregoli. This was a segment of the sound-only production Theater of the New Ear, which debuted at St. Ann's Warehouse in Brooklyn, NY with support from Sirius Satellite Radio, United Talent Agency and Sony Pictures. It was also performed at the Royal Festival Hall in London and as part of the UCLA Live Festival in Los Angeles.

Personal life

Burwell married Christine Sciulli in 1999.



Year Title Director Notes
1984 Blood Simple Joel Coen N/A
1985 A Hero of Our Time Michael Almereyda Short film
1985 R.A.B.L. Patrice M. Regnier Short film
1986 Psycho III Anthony Perkins N/A
1987 Raising Arizona Joel Coen
Ethan Coen
1988 Pass the Ammo David Beaird N/A
1988 The Beat Paul Mones N/A
1988 It Takes Two David Beaird N/A
1989 Checking Out David Leland N/A
1990 Miller's Crossing Joel Coen N/A
1991 Barton Fink Joel Coen
Ethan Coen
1991 Doc Hollywood Michael Caton-Jones N/A
1991 Scorchers David Beaird N/A
1992 Buffy the Vampire Slayer Fran Rubel Kuzui N/A
1992 Waterland Stephen Gyllenhaal N/A
1992 Storyville Mark Frost N/A
1993 This Boy's Life Michael Caton-Jones N/A
1993 Kalifornia Dominic Sena N/A
1993 A Dangerous Woman Stephen Gyllenhaal N/A
1993 And the Band Played On Roger Spottiswoode Television film
1993 Wayne's World 2 Stephen Surjik N/A
1994 The Hudsucker Proxy Joel Coen N/A
1994 It Could Happen to You Andrew Bergman N/A
1994 Airheads Michael Lehmann N/A
1995 Bad Company Damian Harris N/A
1995 A Goofy Movie Kevin Lima Composed with Don Davis
1995 Rob Roy Michael Caton-Jones N/A
1995 The Celluloid Closet Rob Epstein
Jeffrey Friedman
1995 Two Bits James Foley N/A
1996 Fargo Joel Coen
Ethan Coen
1996 Fear James Foley N/A
1996 Joe's Apartment John Payson N/A
1996 The Chamber James Foley N/A
1997 Picture Perfect Glenn Gordon Caron N/A
1997 Assassin(s) Mathieu Kassovitz French film
1997 Conspiracy Theory Richard Donner N/A
1997 The Locusts John Patrick Kelley N/A
1997 The Spanish Prisoner David Mamet N/A
1997 Girls Night Out Myra Paci Short film
1997 The Jackal Michael Caton-Jones N/A
1998 Gods and Monsters Bill Condon N/A
1998 The Big Lebowski Joel Coen
Ethan Coen
1998 Velvet Goldmine Todd Haynes N/A
1998 The Hi-Lo Country Stephen Frears N/A
1999 The Corruptor James Foley N/A
1999 The General's Daughter Simon West N/A
1999 Being John Malkovich Spike Jonze N/A
1999 Three Kings David O. Russell N/A
1999 Mystery, Alaska Jay Roach N/A
2000 Hamlet Michael Almereyda N/A
2000 What Planet Are You From? Mike Nichols N/A
2000 Before Night Falls Julian Schnabel N/A
2000 Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2 Joe Berlinger N/A
2001 A Knight's Tale Brian Helgeland N/A
2001 The Man Who Wasn't There Joel Coen
Ethan Coen

2002 The Rookie John Lee Hancock N/A
2002 Searching for Paradise Myra Paci N/A
2002 S1m0ne Andrew Niccol N/A
2002 Adaptation. Spike Jonze N/A
2003 Intolerable Cruelty Joel Coen
Ethan Coen

2004 The Ladykillers Joel Coen
Ethan Coen
2004 The Alamo John Lee Hancock N/A
2004 Kinsey Bill Condon N/A
2006 Fur Steven Shainberg N/A
2006 The Hoax Lasse Hallström N/A
2007 No Country for Old Men Joel Coen
Ethan Coen
2007 Before the Devil Knows You're Dead Sidney Lumet N/A
2008 In Bruges Martin McDonagh N/A
2008 Burn After Reading Joel Coen
Ethan Coen
2008 Twilight Catherine Hardwicke N/A
2009 A Serious Man Joel Coen
Ethan Coen
2009 Where the Wild Things Are Spike Jonze N/A
2009 The Blind Side John Lee Hancock N/A
2010 Howl Rob Epstein
Jeffrey Friedman
2010 The Kids Are All Right Lisa Cholodenko Composed with Nathan Larson and Craig Wedren
2010 True Grit Joel & Ethan Coen N/A
2011 Midnight Run Neil Shelley Short film
2011 The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1 Bill Condon N/A
2011 Moving Gracefully Towards the Exit Jean-Bernard Andro
Patrice M. Regnier
2012 Seven Psychopaths Martin McDonagh N/A
2012 The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2 Bill Condon N/A
2013 The Fifth Estate Bill Condon N/A
2015 Mr. Holmes Bill Condon Sixth film with director Bill Condon.
2015 Carol Todd Haynes N/A
2015 The Family Fang Jason Bateman N/A
2015 Legend Brian Helgeland N/A
2015 Anomalisa Charlie Kaufman
Duke Johnson
2016 The Finest Hours Craig Gillespie Composed with Marco Beltrami
2016 Hail, Caesar! Joel Coen & Ethan Coen N/A


Year Title Studio(s) Notes
1990 Clash! N/A Theme music only
2011 Mildred Pierce HBO Miniseries
2011 Enlightened HBO Episode: "Pilot"
2014 Olive Kitteridge[5] HBO Miniseries


  1. ^ a b "Natalie Benedict Burwell Obituary: View Natalie Burwell's Obituary by Northern Virginia Daily". February 24, 2010. Retrieved February 9, 2012. 
  2. ^ "Carter Burwell Biography - Yahoo! Movies". Retrieved February 9, 2012. 
  3. ^ Walker, Tim (June 1, 2014). "'"John Powell interview: 'I sold myself to the Devil, just a bit. The Independent. Retrieved June 5, 2014. 
  4. ^
  5. ^

External links

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