Photo of Jeff Beal, composer

Jeff Beal (born June 20, 1963) is an American composer of music for film, television, recordings, and the concert hall. Highly regarded as a jazz instrumentalist and versatile composer, Beal creates music that often incorporates a synthesis of improvisatory and composed elements.[1]

Early life

Beal was born in Hayward, California, United States[2] and began trumpet studies in the third grade after attending a school music assembly at Castro Valley's Marshall Elementary School with his father. Upon hearing the trumpet played, he chose it as his instrument. Beal's grandmother, Irene Beal, was an accomplished pianist, professional silent-movie accompanist, and fan of trumpeter Miles Davis. She gave Jeff a recording of Miles' collaboration with Gil Evans, Sketches of Spain.[3] Beal wrote his first long-form composition for the Oakland Youth Symphony Orchestra while a student at Castro Valley High School. OYSO conductor Kent Nagano had Jeff combine his love of jazz improvisation with an orchestral accompaniment.[4] This merging of improvisation with classical composition has remained a hallmark of Beal's music.[5] Beal went on to study composition and trumpet at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York, and graduated in 1985 with a Bachelor of Music degree.[6]

Jazz career

Beal married a fellow Eastman graduate, soprano Joan (Sapiro) Beal,[7] and the pair moved from Rochester to New York City. It was there Beal composed and recorded his debut album, Liberation, for Island Records. Beal's jazz band went on to perform at The Blue Note and the Montreux Jazz Festival.[8] At the request of Chick Corea, Beal composed and recorded a concerto for the virtuosic jazz bassist, John Patitucci, for Corea's Stretch Records label.[9] Beal's signature work, Alternate Route, was composed for improvised trumpet and orchestra. Written fifteen years after his first long form composition, this piece was again premiered by Kent Nagano and the Berkeley Symphony Orchestra, with Beal as trumpet soloist.[10] He has also composed improvisatory concerti for Dave Samuels, Larry Coombs, and Turtle Island String Quartet.[11]

Film and television composing

In the mid-1990s, Beal relocated to Los Angeles. His first critical notice came in 2001, for his "hypnotic combination of minimalist rhythmic drive and Americana" score to Ed Harris' directorial debut, Pollock.[12] He has since been nominated for nineteen primetime Emmy Awards, and has won five,[13] His first statue was awarded in 2003 for his main theme to the USA Network detective series Monk. Other Emmy nominations include HBO's evocative Depression era series, Carnivàle and epic drama Rome, as well as four nominations and two wins for Netflix's House of Cards.[14] Beal is noted for composing most of his music at his home, without assistants or orchestrators, playing most of the instruments himself. For the music from House of Cards, he added strings through recording a 17-piece string ensemble, which he invited to record in the living room of his home.[7] He recently completed the score for Rodrigo García's Raymond & Ray for which he composed and performed all of the jazz trumpet solos mimed by actor Ethan Hawke.[15]

Concert works

Beal has a catalogue of 35 concert works, published by G. Schirmer Inc./AMP, including many commissioned orchestral, choral and dance compositions.[16] Beal has conducted his own music with a variety of orchestras, including the Boston Symphony Orchestra in the recording of the score to "Boston", a feature-length documentary on the history of the Boston Marathon[17] the National Symphony Orchestra in House of Cards in Concert at the Kennedy Center,[18] and the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra performing Beal's new score for Buster Keaton's "The General".[19] He was commissioned by the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra to compose a new song cycle for Grammy winner Hilá Plittman in honor of Leonard Slatkin’s fifty years with the Orchestra.[20] "The Paperlined Shack", Beal's first album of exclusively his concert music was released in June 2022 on Supertrain Records featuring the titular song cycle performed by Plittman and the Eastman Philharmonia conducted by Leonard Slatkin and his string quartet "Things Unseen" performed by The New Hollywood String Quartet.[21]

Later life

Beal disclosed that in 2007 he was diagnosed as having multiple sclerosis. Beal attributes the stabilization of the disease symptoms in part to his busy schedule and the concentration required to compose, as well as treating his MS as a vascular disease with lifestyle intervention and venoplasty treatment.[7]

Selected film credits

Selected television credits


Year Album
1987 Liberation
1988 Perpetual Motion
1991 Objects in the Mirror
1993 Three Graces
1994 Contemplations
1996 The Gathering with Joan Beal
1997 Alternate Route
1998 Red Shift
2001 Pollock Original Soundtrack to film by Ed Harris
2004 Monk
2003 Tibet: Cry of the Snow Lion
2004 Carnivàle
2007 Rome
2016 Jesse Stone
2018 House of Cards Symphony
2022 GameStop: Rise of the Players


  1. ^ "Music Sales Composer Bio Jeff Beal". Retrieved 2019-02-02.
  2. ^ "Jeff JEFF's STORY". Archived from the original on 2011-11-25. Retrieved 2011-11-13.
  3. ^ "Jeff Beal Interview".[permanent dead link]
  4. ^ "Dance Card: Smuin Ballet will premiere 'Oasis,' choreographed by Helen Pickett to music by Jeff Beal". Apr 29, 2016. Retrieved Apr 3, 2020.
  5. ^ "imdb Jeff Beal Bio". IMDb. Retrieved 2019-02-02.
  6. ^ "Alumnus and Emmy-winning Composer Jeff Beal Is Eastman School of Music's Commencement Speaker". 5 May 2011. Retrieved 21 January 2019.
  7. ^ a b c Tim Grieving, A wrong note sets the right mood in "House of Cards". NPR Music, February 26, 2015. Retrieved 2016-11-19.
  8. ^ "Montreux Jazz Festival Artists". Retrieved 2 February 2019.
  9. ^ "Corea Starts a Label of His Own". Los Angeles Times. 2 October 1992. Retrieved 2 February 2019.
  10. ^ "Jeff Beal: Alternate Route". October 2000. Retrieved 2 February 2019.
  11. ^ "Jeff Beal on Apple Music". Apple Music. Retrieved 21 January 2019.
  12. ^ "Composer Adds Color to Pollock". Variety. 27 August 2001. Retrieved 2 February 2019.
  13. ^ "Jeff Beal Emmy Awards". Retrieved 2019-02-02.
  14. ^ "Jeff Beal". IMDb. Retrieved 21 January 2019.
  15. ^ "Jeff Beal to Score Rodrigo García's 'Raymond & Ray' | Film Music Reporter". Retrieved 2022-08-15.
  16. ^ "Composer Jeff Beal Works". Retrieved 2 February 2019.
  17. ^ "BSO Boston Marathon Documentary Soundtrack". Retrieved 2 February 2019.
  18. ^ "Billboard: House of Cards Composer Jeff Beal Premieres Symphony Before Cast Members at Kennedy Center". Billboard. Retrieved 15 July 2016.
  19. ^ "LACO@The Movies". Retrieved 2 February 2019.
  20. ^ Lavazzi, Chuck (30 April 2019). "Symphony Preview: 'I'm not afraid of going for emotion,' a conversation with composer Jeff Beal". KDHX. Retrieved 2022-08-15.
  21. ^ "Supertrain Records". Supertrain Records. Retrieved 2022-08-15.