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Gustavo Santaolalla
Santaolalla in 2022
Santaolalla in 2022
Background information
Also known asMoviola
Born (1951-08-19) 19 August 1951 (age 72)
Ciudad Jardín Lomas del Palomar, Argentina
  • Composer
  • music producer
  • musician
Years active1967–present
Member ofBajofondo
Formerly ofArco Iris

Gustavo Alfredo Santaolalla (Spanish: [ɡusˈtaβo alˈfɾeðo santaoˈlaʝa]; born 19 August 1951) is an Argentine composer and musician. Known for his minimalist approach to composing, he rose to fame for creating the scores to the films Brokeback Mountain (2005) and Babel (2006), for which he received two Academy Awards for Best Original Score in consecutive years.[1] Santaolalla also gained recognition for his work on The Last of Us games, composing the original title and its 2020 sequel. He returned to reprise his themes and co-compose the score for the 2023 HBO adaptation.

Santaolalla has been a collaborator with acclaimed director Alejandro González Iñárritu, composing the first four psychological drama films Iñárritu directed.[2] His other notable work includes writing the themes for television series such as the American satirical romantic dramedy series Jane the Virgin (2014–2019), its MBC 4 Arabic adaptation, and the crime documentary series Making a Murderer (2015–2018).

Early life

Gustavo Alfredo Santaolalla was born in Ciudad Jardín Lomas del Palomar on 19 August 1951.[3] As a boy, Santaolalla was given a ronroco, which led to him developing an interest in rock and roll and drove him away from an early ambition to become a priest.[4]


Santaolalla's music career began in 1967 when he co-founded the group Arco Iris,[5] a rock band that pioneered the fusion of rock and Latin American folk known as rock nacional. The band adopted the lifestyle of a yoga commune guided by former model Danais "Dana" Winnycka and her partner, musician Ara Tokatlian. The band had a few hits, such as "Mañanas Campestres" ("Country Mornings"), and made inroads into different forms of musical expression (notably a ballet piece for Oscar Aráiz). However, Santaolalla felt constricted by the strict requirements of Dana's teachings, which prohibited the consumption of meat, alcohol, and drugs; he left the group in 1975.[6]

In 1976, Santaolalla assembled Soluna, a band in which he played alongside teenage pianist and singer Alejandro Lerner and his then-girlfriend Monica Campins. Together they recorded just one album (Energía Natural in 1977). He then left for Los Angeles, where he adopted a rock and roll sound and formed the band Wet Picnic with ex-Crucis member Aníbal Kerpel. He briefly returned to Argentina in 1981 to produce Leon Gieco's Pensar en Nada and record his first solo album. As a solo artist, he has recorded three albums. His first self-titled album, Santaolalla (1981), broke new ground by incorporating the 1980s sound into rock in Argentina for the first time. He was joined by Lerner and the Willy Iturri-Alfredo Toth rhythm section, who were two-thirds of the band GIT. His second album, titled Gas, was released in 1995.

Santaolalla's most recent solo album, Ronroco (1998), contained several tracks with the characteristic sound of the folk string instrument of the same name, which later became a defining instrument in his soundtrack work. Ronroco also contains his solo piece for Iguazu Falls, "Iguazu," which was later used in films such as The Insider, Collateral and Babel, as well as a 2007 Vodafone TV commercial and TV series such as Deadwood, 24, and Top Gear.[7] It also contains the track "De Ushuaia a La Quiaca" used by Walter Salles in his The Motorcycle Diaries. Santaolalla aided the development of rock en español by acting as producer for the Mexican acts Neón, Maldita Vecindad, Fobia, Molotov, Café Tacuba, and Julieta Venegas; the Colombian singer Juanes; the Chilean rock trio Los Prisioneros; fellow Argentine rock musicians Divididos, Bersuit Vergarabat, Érica García, and León Gieco, among many others.

Santaolalla began working on film soundtracks in the late 1990s, producing albums for the films Amores Perros, 21 Grams, and The Motorcycle Diaries. He provided the instrumental music for the soundtrack to the 2005 film Brokeback Mountain, from which "A Love That Will Never Grow Old" won the 2006 Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song. Santaolalla received the 2006 Academy Award for Original Score for Brokeback Mountain.[5] In 2007, he received his second Academy Award for the film score to Babel, and dedicated the award to his father and his home country Argentina.

Santaolalla in March 2007

Santaolalla acted as the producer of Gaby Kerpel's Carnabailito and co-produced the Kronos Quartet's Nuevo, an album which renders homage to the musical heritage of Mexico. He has also been part of the resurgent neo-tango movement, as the prime mover behind the Bajofondo Tango Club collective. He is mentioned as the co-producer of Calle 13's song "Tango del Pecado", a song from their album Residente o Visitante.[8] In 2005, he received the Platinum Konex Award as best Argentine artistic producer of the 1995-2005 decade. In 2008, he composed the soundtrack for the Louis Vuitton film Where Will Life Take You? directed by Bruno Aveillan. Later that year, he recorded two songs on "All You Need Is Me", a single by English singer Morrissey. The tracks, "Children In Pieces" and "My Dearest Love", were recorded in Los Angeles.

Santaolalla directed music for Aamir Khan's movie Dhobi Ghat, which was released on 21 January 2011. He also collaborated with Argentine composer Osvaldo Golijov on several projects commissioned by soprano Dawn Upshaw. These include the opera Ainadamar, based on the murder of Spanish poet Federico García Lorca, and Ayre, a collection of folk songs, in which Santaolalla plays with a group that calls itself The Andalucian Dogs. He provided the score for the 2012 film On the Road, produced by Francis Ford Coppola and directed by Walter Salles. That same year, he was nominated for Producer of the Year at the Latin Grammy Awards for his work on De Noche (Antonio Carmona), Entre la Ciudad y el Mar (Gustavo Galindo), and Rêverie (Luciano Supervielle), co-produced with Juan Campodónico from Bajofondo.

Santaolalla received critical acclaim for composing the score to the 2013 action-adventure video game The Last of Us, which was his first experience in the video game industry. In 2020, he returned to compose the music for its sequel, The Last of Us Part II.[9]

In 2015, Santaolalla was inducted into the Latin Songwriters Hall of Fame.[10]

On 20 and 21 September 2019, Eric Clapton invited Santaolalla to participate at his Crossroads event at the American Airlines Arena in Dallas, Texas. He performed the song "De Ushuaia a la Quiaca" and a version of "Ando Rodando". He also played in the last song of the event on with Clapton, Gary Clark Jr, Buddy Guy, John Mayer, Susan Tedeschi, Derek Trucks, Jimmie Vaughan, James Bay and others.


Santaolalla performing in 2010

Santaolalla does not know how to read or write musical notation, nor does he use an orchestra for his soundtracks. He said, "I don't see myself as a film composer. I see myself as more of an artist that uses different forms to express myself. I love it all."[11]

Personal life

Santaolalla lives in Los Angeles with his wife, Alejandra Palacios, and their daughter Luna (born 1994) and son Don Juan Nahuel (born 1999). He has a daughter named Ana (born 1980) from a previous relationship with Monica Campins.

Discography, filmography and video games

Year Title Notes
1981 She Dances Alone
1998 Ronroco Solo work, first release of "Iguazu"
1999 The Insider Features his song, "Iguazu"
2000 Amores perros
2003 21 Grams
2004 Salinas grandes TV
2004 The Motorcycle Diaries BAFTA Award for Original Music Score. See also the soundtrack
2005 North Country See also the soundtrack
2005 Yes Features his song "Iguazu"
2005 Brokeback Mountain Academy Award for Original Score. See also the soundtrack
2006 Fast Food Nation Features his song "Iguazu"
2006 Babel Academy and BAFTA Award for Original Score. See also the soundtrack
2007 Into the Wild Features his song "Picking Berries"
2007 My Blueberry Nights Features his song "Pájaros"
2008 Linha de Passe
2009 I Come with the Rain
2010 The Sun Behind the Clouds: Tibet's Struggle for Freedom
2010 Nanga Parbat
2010 Biutiful
2010 Dhobi Ghaat Hindi language
Indian film
2012 On the Road
2013 The Last of Us Video game
2013 August: Osage County [12]
2014 The Book of Life
2014 Wild Tales Goya Award for Best Original Score
2014 Camino Solo work [13]
2015 Making a Murderer
2015 Borrowed Time Short
2016 Before the Flood [14]
2016 Qhapaq Ñan: Desandando El Camino
2017 A Life in 12 Bars
2017 To End a War
2017 All That Divides Us
2018 Narcos: Mexico
2020 The Fight
2020 The Last of Us Part II Video game. Likeness also used in the game for a banjo player in Jackson.
2020 El Cid
2021 Finch
2021 Maya and the Three Netflix miniseries
2022 The House Netflix anthology film
2023–present The Last of Us HBO series[15]

Awards and nominations




  1. ^ Rohter, Larry (14 August 2008). "Gustavo Santaolalla's Film Scores Are Minimalist and His Tango Is Newfangled". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 13 September 2017.
  2. ^ "The Last of Us - Part II - PAN M 360 | Review". PAN M 360. Retrieved 6 November 2021.
  3. ^ "Gustavo Santaolalla discography". Retrieved 30 September 2016.
  4. ^ Lipp, Marty (7 March 2024). "GUSTAVO SANTAOLALLA ON THE ALBUM THAT LAUNCHED HIS CAREER". Popmatters. Retrieved 16 May 2024.
  5. ^ a b Rohter, Larry (14 August 2008). "Gustavo Santaolalla's Film Scores Are Minimalist and His Tango Is Newfangled". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 13 September 2017.
  6. ^ "ARCO IRIS". Viajero Inmóvil. Archived from the original on 13 September 2017. Retrieved 13 September 2017.
  7. ^ "TG What's That Song? - [16x03] February 6th 2011". Final Gear. 29 November 2014. Retrieved 12 March 2017.
  8. ^ Burr, Ramiro (7 June 2007). "Calle 13 expands with tango and hip-hop". Chicago Tribune. Tribune Company. Retrieved 3 October 2011.
  9. ^ "PlayStation Experience 2016 | Day 1". Archived from the original on 20 December 2016. Retrieved 25 April 2017.
  10. ^ "Latin Songwriters Hall Of Fame to Induct Emilio Estefan, Myriam Hernandez, Gustavo Santaolalla, Alvaro Torres, Diego Torres and Hector Ochoa Cardenas at the LA MUSA AWARDS. Presented by WorldArts". PR Newsire. 16 September 2015. Retrieved 16 October 2015.
  11. ^ Gustavo Santaolalla, Making Music For Both Stage and Screen, PBS NewsHour, 14 October 2009)
  12. ^ "Gustavo Santaolalla Takes Over Scoring Duties on 'August: Osage County'". Film Music Reporter. Retrieved 15 May 2014.
  13. ^ "Album Premiere: Gustavo Santaolalla - 'Camino'". AllMusic. Retrieved 9 July 2014.
  14. ^ DeFore, John (9 September 2016). "'Before the Flood': Film Review - TIFF 2016". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 10 September 2016.
  15. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (16 February 2022). "'The Last Of Us': HBO Chief Gives Premiere Date Update On Video Game Adaptation". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 17 February 2022.
  16. ^ "Gustavo Santaolalla Named Icon at 15th Annual BMI Latin Music Awards". 13 June 2008. Retrieved 11 October 2010.