If you are a fan of film music, you have probably heard of the names Thomas Newman and Randy Newman. They are both acclaimed composers who have written scores for some of the most popular and critically acclaimed movies of the last decades. But did you know that they are also related? In this article, we will explore how Thomas Newman and Randy Newman are connected through their family history, and how they belong to a musical dynasty that spans generations.
The Newman family tree
Thomas Newman and Randy Newman are cousins, but their relation goes beyond that. They are both descendants of Alfred Newman, one of the most influential and prolific film composers in history. Alfred Newman was born in 1901 in New Haven, Connecticut, to Russian Jewish immigrants. He was a piano prodigy who started performing at a young age and later moved to New York to pursue a career in music. He became a successful Broadway conductor and arranger, working with stars like George Gershwin and Irving Berlin.
In 1930, he moved to Hollywood and joined United Artists as a music director. He later moved to 20th Century Fox, where he became the head of the music department for 20 years. He composed the iconic fanfare that opens every Fox movie, as well as scores for classics like The Grapes of Wrath, The Diary of Anne Frank, How the West Was Won, and The King and I. He won nine Oscars out of 45 nominations, making him the third most awarded individual in Academy history.
Alfred Newman had five children, two of whom followed his footsteps as film composers: Thomas Newman and David Newman. Thomas Newman was born in 1955 in Los Angeles, California. He studied music at Yale University and the University of Southern California. He started his career as a composer for television, working on shows like Thirtysomething and Amazing Stories. He made his breakthrough in film with his score for The Shawshank Redemption in 1994, which earned him his first Oscar nomination. Since then, he has composed for films like American Beauty, Finding Nemo, Skyfall, Bridge of Spies, and 1917. He has been nominated for 15 Oscars but has never won.
David Newman was born in 1954 in Los Angeles, California. He also studied music at USC and worked as a conductor and orchestrator for his father and other composers. He made his debut as a film composer with Critters in 1986. He has composed for films like Throw Momma from the Train, The War of the Roses, The Nutty Professor, Ice Age, Galaxy Quest, and Anastasia. He has been nominated for one Oscar for Anastasia in 1997.
Randy Newman was born in 1943 in Los Angeles, California. He is the son of Irving Newman, a physician, and Adele Fox, a secretary. Irving was the brother of Alfred Newman, making him Randy’s uncle. Randy grew up in New Orleans, Louisiana, where he developed an interest in music. He learned to play the piano from his uncles Lionel and Emil Newman, who were also film composers and music directors. Lionel worked at Fox alongside Alfred for over 40 years, composing for films like Hello Dolly!, Doctor Dolittle, and The Seven Year Itch. He won one Oscar out of 11 nominations. Emil worked at various studios as a conductor and composer, earning one Oscar nomination for Sun Valley Serenade in 1941.
Randy returned to Los Angeles when he was 11 years old and started writing songs as a teenager. He became a successful singer-songwriter in the 1970s, known for his witty and satirical lyrics and distinctive voice. Some of his hits include “Short People”, “I Love L.A.”, “You’ve Got a Friend in Me”, and “Sail Away”. He also started composing for films in the late 1970s, working on movies like Ragtime, The Natural, Parenthood, Awakenings, and Pleasantville. He became famous for his collaboration with Pixar Animation Studios, scoring all four Toy Story movies, A Bug’s Life, Monsters Inc., Cars, and Monsters University. He has won two Oscars out of 22 nominations: one for Best Original Song for “If I Didn’t Have You” from Monsters Inc., and another for Best Original Song for “We Belong Together” from Toy Story 3.
The legacy of the Newmans
Thomas Newman and Randy Newman are not the only members of their family who have made a mark on film music. Their cousins Maria Newman (Alfred’s daughter) and Joey Newman (Lionel’s grandson) are also composers who have worked on various projects for film and television. Maria is a classical composer who has written scores for documentaries, shorts, and independent films. She has also performed as a violinist, pianist, and conductor. Joey is a composer and conductor who has worked on shows like Little People, Big World, The Middle, and Once Upon a Time.
The Newmans are widely regarded as one of the most talented and successful musical families in Hollywood history. They have contributed to the art and craft of film music for over 90 years, creating memorable themes, melodies, and sounds for generations of audiences. They have also received recognition and acclaim from their peers and critics, earning a total of 95 Oscar nominations and 12 wins. They have shown versatility, creativity, and originality in their work, adapting to different genres, styles, and trends. They have also maintained a distinctive musical identity, each with their own voice and vision.
Thomas Newman and Randy Newman are both still active and prolific in their careers, continuing to create music that inspires and entertains. They are both nominated for Oscars this year: Thomas for his score for 1917, and Randy for his score for Marriage Story and his song for Toy Story 4. They are competing against each other in the Best Original Score category, but they are also celebrating each other’s achievements and honoring their family’s legacy.