Don Davis (composer)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Don Davis
Birth nameDonald Romain Davis
Born (1957-02-04) February 4, 1957 (age 65)
Anaheim, California, U.S.
  • Composer
  • conductor
  • orchestrator
Years active1977–present

Donald Romain Davis (born February 4, 1957) is an American composer, conductor, orchestrator and trombonist known for his film and television scores. He has also composed opera, concert and chamber music.

Davis has collaborated with well-known directors including The Wachowskis, Ronny Yu, and Joe Johnston in genres ranging from horror, to action, to comedy. His best known works include music for The Matrix franchise, and the television series Beauty and the Beast and seaQuest 2032.

Davis has been nominated for eight Primetime Emmy Awards, winning twice for Outstanding Music Composition for a Series. He has also won four BMI Film Music Awards.

Early life and education[edit]

Davis was born in Anaheim, California. He began playing trumpet and piano at the age of nine, and started writing music at twelve. As his affinity for music grew, so did his aspirations, and soon he was composing and arranging orchestral charts for local jazz ensembles that he also performed with.

After graduating from high school, Davis enrolled at UCLA. He continued his study of musical composition with tutor Henri Lazarof. Additionally, he learned orchestration from Albert Harris.[1]


During their orchestration lessons, Harris introduced Davis to the TV composer Joe Harnell, who supported Davis during his search for work—his first job was working for composer Mark Snow's TV show Hart to Hart. He has worked as an orchestrator and conductor for Michael Kamen, Alan Silvestri, James Horner, and Randy Newman.

Davis was nominated for the Emmys in 1990 for Beauty and the Beast and won in 1995 for SeaQuest DSV.[2] He wrote scores mostly for television series up until 1995, in which he wrote a few of the cues for the animated Disney motion picture A Goofy Movie. He continued to score television series until the two then young directors, the Wachowskis, hired him to score their neo-noir film Bound. It was reasonably successful at the box office. Bound was the film which led Davis into becoming the composer for the entire Matrix trilogy. Subsequently, Davis has composed scores for films such as Universal Soldier: The Return, Jurassic Park III (recommended to the filmmakers by John Williams, the composer of the scores for the first two films in the series), House on Haunted Hill, Behind Enemy Lines, and The Unsaid. In 2004, he produced the music score for the BBC science fiction documentary series Space Odyssey: Voyage to the Planets, released as Voyage to the Planets and Beyond in the United States.

Davis' magnum opus is the Matrix franchise: The Matrix, The Matrix Reloaded, The Matrix Revolutions, and The Animatrix. It was set apart from other film scores of its time for its atonality and avant garde style of composition, with influences from polytonal minimalist works by John Adams and cluster-like as well as aleatoric techniques prominent in the works of composer Witold Lutosławski.

In addition to orchestrating and conducting his own scores, Don Davis has done orchestration work for many other composers. He was the conductor for the movie Flowers in the Attic, whose score was composed by Christopher Young, and for the TV documentary Eagles: Hell Freezes Over. He arranged music for The 86th Academy Awards as well. He is also regular orchestrator for Randy Newman.

Don Davis' political opera, Río de Sangre, premiered at the Florentine Opera Company on October 22, 2010. Excerpts of the opera had previously been performed in Los Angeles with the Los Angeles Master Chorale on November 6, 2005, and the New York City Opera on May 13, 2007.

Personal life[edit]

Davis currently splits his time between Southern California and British Columbia, Canada. He has been married to Megan MacDonald since 1986, and they have two children together.



Year Title Director(s) Notes
1984 Hyperspace Todd Durham
1988 Blackout Doug Adams
1991 Session Man Seth Winston Short film
1992 Tiny Toon Adventures: How I Spent My Vacation Various Composed with Steven Bramson, Bruce Broughton, Albert Lloyd Olson, Richard Stone, Stephen James Taylor & Mark Watters
1994 A Little Tailor's Christmas Story Allan Rich Short film
1996 Bound The Wachowskis
1997 Warriors of Virtue Ronny Yu
1998 The Lesser Evil David Mackay
1999 Turbulence 2: Fear of Flying
The Matrix The Wachowskis
Universal Soldier: The Return Mic Rodgers
House on Haunted Hill William Malone
2001 Antitrust Peter Howitt
Valentine Jamie Blanks
Jurassic Park III Joe Johnston Original Jurassic Park themes by John Williams
The Unsaid Tom McLoughlin
Behind Enemy Lines John Moore
2002 Long Time Dead Marcus Adams
Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever Kaos
2003 The Matrix Reloaded The Wachowskis
The Animatrix Various Composed with Machine Head & Photek
The Matrix Revolutions The Wachowskis
2004 Mighty Times: The Children's March Robert Houston Documentary short
2006 The Marine John Bonito
2007 The Good Life Steve Berra
Ten Inch Hero David Mackay
2017 Tokyo Ghoul Kentarō Hagiwara
A Symphony of Hope Brian Weidling Documentary film
2018 Beyond the Sky Fulvio Sestito

Orchestration work[edit]

Year Film Composer Notes
1986 Police Academy 3: Back in Training Robert Folk Credited as additional orchestrator.
1987 Police Academy 4: Citizens On Patrol
1988 The In Crowd Mark Snow
1990 Die Hard 2 Michael Kamen
1991 If Looks Could Kill David Foster
Hudson Hawk Michael Kamen
Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves
Ricochet Alan Silvestri
1992 Death Becomes Her
The Muppet Christmas Carol Miles Goodman
Paul Williams
1993 Cop and a Half Alan Silvestri
Last Action Hero Michael Kamen Uncredited
Hocus Pocus John Debney
We're Back! A Dinosaur's Story James Horner
The Pelican Brief
1994 When a Man Loves a Woman Zbigniew Preisner Also composed additional music.
Clean Slate Alan Silvestri Uncredited
Maverick Randy Newman
Thumbelina Barry Manilow
William Ross
I Love Trouble David Newman
Clear And Present Danger James Horner
The Pagemaster
Legends of the Fall Uncredited
1995 A Goofy Movie Carter Burwell Also composed additional music & orchestrated and conducted by
Casper James Horner
Apollo 13 Uncredited
Toy Story Randy Newman
Balto James Horner
1996 James And The Giant Peach Randy Newman Also did song arrangements
The Phantom David Newman Uncredited
Courage Under Fire James Horner
Michael Randy Newman
1997 Titanic James Horner Credited as additional orchestrator
1998 Pleasantville Randy Newman
A Bug's Life
Lost in Space Bruce Broughton
2000 Meet The Parents Randy Newman
2010 Toy Story 3
2017 Cars 3
2019 Toy Story 4
Marriage Story


Year Title Notes
1983 Square Pegs 2 episodes
1983–84 Hart to Hart 4 episodes
1986 Kay O'Brien Episode: “Wreck the Halls”
1987 Sledge Hammer! 2 episodes
1987–90 Beauty and the Beast 48 episodes
1990 Matlock Episode: “The Personal Trainer”
1991 My Life and Times Episode: “The Collapse of '98”
1990–91 Tiny Toon Adventures 5 episodes
1992 The Plucky Duck Show Episode: "A Ditch in Time"
1993 Star Trek: The Next Generation Episode: "Face of the Enemy"
1992–95 Capitol Critters 8 episodes
1993–94 Taz-Mania 4 episodes
1994–95 SeaQuest 2032 13 episodes
1995 CBS Schoolbreak Special Episode: "Between Mother and Daughter"

Television films and limited series[edit]

Year Title Director Notes
1988 Bluegrass Simon Wincer
A Stoning in Fulham County Larry Elikann
Quiet Victory: The Charlie Wedemeyer Story Roy Campanella II
1989 Home Fires Burning Glenn Jordan
1990 Running Against Time Bruce Seth Green
1991 Lies Before Kisses Lou Antonio
A Little Piece of Heaven Mimi Leder
1992 Notorious Colin Bucksey
Woman with a Past Mimi Leder
1993 Country Estates Donald Petrie
Murder of Innocence Tom McLoughlin
1994 In the Best of Families: Marriage, Pride & Madness Jeff Bleckner
Leave of Absence Tom McLoughlin
1995 Sleep, Baby, Sleep Armand Mastroianni
1996 For Love Alone: The Ivana Trump Story Michael Lindsay-Hogg
In the Lake of the Woods Carl Schenkel
The Beast Jeff Bleckner
The Perfect Daughter Harry Longstreet
Doomsday Virus Eric Laneuville
1997 Alibi Andy Wolk
Not in This Town Donald Wrye
A Match Made in Heaven Paul Wendkos
Weapons of Mass Distraction Stephen Surjik
The Third Twin Tom McLoughlin
House of Frankenstein Peter Werner
1998 The Lake David Jackson
Life of the Party: The Pamela Harriman Story Waris Hussein
Route 9 David Mackay
1999 In the Company of Spies Tim Matheson
2000 Hell Swarm Tim Matheson
Race Against Time Geoff Murphy
Personally Yours Jeffrey Reiner
2002 Murder in Greenwich Tom McLoughlin
2004 Space Odyssey Joe Ahearne Documentary
2006 Augusta, Gone Tim Matheson

Other works[edit]

  • Chronym I for flute (1977)
  • Trio for violin, viola & cello (1978)
  • 12 Poems For Jonathan David Wolf for soprano & piano (1978)
  • Chamber Concerto (1978)
  • Timbral Spectra (1979)
  • Chamber Variations (1979)
  • Chronym II (1980)
  • Chamber Symphony (1981)
  • Chronym III (1981)
  • Symphony (1982)
  • Bleeding Particles (1983)
  • Harsh (1988)
  • Bleak (1989)
  • The Eye And The Pyramid (1990)
  • Going On (1991)
  • Green Light (1992)
  • What Is The Silence (1993)
  • Afterimages (1994)
  • Of The Illuminated (1995)
  • Flurry (1996)
  • No Exit (1996)
  • The Enchanted Place Suite (1997)
  • Pain (1998)
  • Illicit Felicity (1999) - Excerpt from “Bound” score
  • Critical Mass (2000)
  • Wandering (2002)
  • A Lunatic Air (On Fire) (2002)
  • Río de Sangre (2005) - Opera in three acts


  1. ^ McCandless, Greg; McIntyre, Daniel (2017). The Craft of Contemporary Commercial Music. Routledge. ISBN 978-1-317-39686-4. Retrieved January 29, 2020.
  2. ^ "(Don Davis search results)". Emmy Awards. Television Academy. Archived from the original on January 30, 2020. Retrieved January 30, 2020.

External links[edit]