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Music Monday: Carter Burwell

Keith Chaffee, Librarian, Collection Development,
Photo of Carter Burwell

On November 18, 1954, Carter Burwell was born. Burwell is a composer of film scores, with about 90 feature films to his credit.

His career began in 1984, with the first film from Joel and Ethan Coen, Blood Simple. He has continued to work regularly with the Coens, writing the scores for all but two of their movies. The two he didn't score — O Brother, Where Art Thou? and Inside Llewyn Davies — both had soundtracks made up of existing folk music and performances by the cast members.

Burwell's work seems to inspire loyalty. He's scored multiple films for some of the most critically acclaimed directors of the last 30 years – Martin McDonagh (In Bruges, Seven Psychopaths), Spike Jonze (Being John Malkovich, Where the Wild Things Are), Todd Haynes (Carol, Velvet Goldmine), John Lee Hancock (The Blind Side, The Founder), and Bill Condon (Gods and Monsters, Mr. Holmes) among them.

His scores have been critically praised with such consistency that it was somewhat surprising that it took until 2015 for Burwell to receive his first Academy Award nomination for Best Score, for the 1950s lesbian romance Carol. But with three films currently in release – Goodbye Christopher Robin, Wonderstruck, and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri – we might see him get a second this year.

In addition to those linked above, several more of Burwell's scores are available for streaming at Hoopla and Freegal.


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