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Mychael Danna

Mychael Danna

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Also Known As: Died:
Born: September 20, 1958 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Winnipeg, Manitoba, CA Profession: composer

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Mychael Danna was an award-winning composer who won an Academy Award for Best Original Score for his work on Ang Lee's critically acclaimed film, "Life of Pi" (2012). Danna crafted meticulously integrated scores for films, which made him a sought-after composer by many directors, including Atom Egoyan, Terry Gilliam and Ang Lee. His ability to meld international melodies and instrumentation with modern Western minimalism helped bring unique moods to some of the largest blockbusters and most personal independent films.Danna was born on September 20, 1958 in Winnipeg, Canada, but his family moved to Burlington, Ontario when he was less than one year old. He studied musical composition at the University of Toronto, winning the Glenn Gould Composition Scholarship in 1985 and paving the way for his cinematic career. Danna frequently collaborated with the same filmmakers, one of whom being fellow Canadian director Atom Egoyan. Danna's feature film debut came scoring Egoyan's drama, "Family Viewing" (1987), which earned him his first of 13 Genie Award nominations. He also partnered on numerous occasions with his younger brother, Jeff Danna. Their first collaboration occurred in 1989, composing the musical...

Mychael Danna was an award-winning composer who won an Academy Award for Best Original Score for his work on Ang Lee's critically acclaimed film, "Life of Pi" (2012). Danna crafted meticulously integrated scores for films, which made him a sought-after composer by many directors, including Atom Egoyan, Terry Gilliam and Ang Lee. His ability to meld international melodies and instrumentation with modern Western minimalism helped bring unique moods to some of the largest blockbusters and most personal independent films.

Danna was born on September 20, 1958 in Winnipeg, Canada, but his family moved to Burlington, Ontario when he was less than one year old. He studied musical composition at the University of Toronto, winning the Glenn Gould Composition Scholarship in 1985 and paving the way for his cinematic career. Danna frequently collaborated with the same filmmakers, one of whom being fellow Canadian director Atom Egoyan. Danna's feature film debut came scoring Egoyan's drama, "Family Viewing" (1987), which earned him his first of 13 Genie Award nominations. He also partnered on numerous occasions with his younger brother, Jeff Danna. Their first collaboration occurred in 1989, composing the musical score for the Canadian psychological thriller "Cold Comfort" (1989), which earned Danna his second Genie Award nomination. Several years later in 1994, Danna finally earned his first Best Score win at the Genie Awards for his provocative score to Egoyan's sensual thriller, "Exotica" (1994).

Another of his frequent collaborators is the acclaimed Taiwanese director, Ang Lee. They began working together in 1997 with Lee's lauded drama about two dysfunctional families, "The Ice Storm" (1997). That same year, Danna worked with Egoyan again, and their union kept up Danna's Best Score winning streak at the Genie Awards after the director tasked the composer with scoring the wrenching drama "The Sweet Hereafter" (1997), and again two years later for "Felicia's Journey" (1999). Danna reunited with his brother in 1999 when the latter composed the soundtrack to the cult action movie "The Boondock Saints" (1999), sharing credit for the track "The Blood of Cuchulainn."

In 2002, his music was heard in the stylish but divisive summer blockbuster "Hulk," Ang Lee's adaptation of the iconic green superhero. Three years later, the Danna Brothers worked with imaginative Monty Python alum Terry Gilliam on the director's eerie tale of childhood, "Tideland" (2005). He earned his only Grammy nomination in 2006 for his work with the eclectic band DeVotchKa on the soundtrack to the delightfully quirky indie film, "Little Miss Sunshine" (2006). Danna continued to collaborate with his brother throughout the 2000s. In an interview for their work on Terry Gilliam's ensemble fantasy "The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus" (2009), Danna described working with his brother as "something that just comes naturally for us." In 2011, the Danna Brothers' natural proclivity for working together earned them a Primetime Emmy for composing the main title theme on Starz's sword and sorcery series, "Camelot" (2011).

But it was Danna's work on Ang Lee's 2012 adaptation of the best-selling novel "Life of Pi" that earned him his greatest accolades. Lee spent four years adapting the cosmic fable about an Indian boy and an ocean-faring Bengal tiger, and Danna crafted a score that reflected that long-term dedication. He designed the movie's music to be directly tied to the on-screen action so closely that, when he was asked about the film's soundtrack, he said, "It doesn't make any sense. The music was not designed to stand on its own." Danna's original score won a Golden Globe and an Academy Award, as well as an Academy Award nomination for his original song, "Pi's Lullaby."

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Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

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Milestones close milestones

1987:
Wrote first feature film score for Atom Egoyan's "Family Viewing", receiving a Genie Award nomination
1989:
Second collaboration with Egoyan, "Speaking Parts", earned him another Genie Award nomination
1989:
Earned third Genie Award nomination for Vic Sarin's "Cold Comfort"
1994:
Teamed with Egoyan again, this time writing a Genie-winning score for "Exotica", which incorporated his interest in Middle Eastern and South Asian music
1997:
Scored Gillies MacKinnon's "Regeneration", a film based on the Pat Barker novel about the Great War
1997:
Used Native American flute player Dan Cecil in concert with the Evergreen Gamelan Ensemble for Ang Lee's "The Ice Storm"
1999:
Scored four features, including Ang Lee's "Ride With the Devil", Atom Egoyan's "Felicia's Journey" and "Girl, Interrupted"
2011:
Won a Primetime Emmy for Best Original Main Title Theme for the TV series "Camelot" with brother Jeff Danna
2013:
Won his first Academy Award and Golden Globe Award for "Life of Pi"
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Education

University of Toronto: Toronto , Ontario -

Notes

The 1985 recipient of the prestigious Glenn Gould Award at the University of Toronto, Danna served as composer-in-residence at Toronto's McLaughlin Planetarium from 1987 to 1992.

Danna has released several albums of synthesized soundscapes in collaboration with Tim Clement (Danna & Clement).

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