Painting is self-discovery. Every good artist paints what he is. —Jackson Pollock
It’s no coincidence that Jeff Beal’s film music career began to take off with his work on the acclaimed film POLLOCK (2000). Beal writes, orchestrates, conducts, mixes and often performs on his own scores – no other artist’s brushstrokes touch his canvas. As an accomplished jazz musician, Beal uses his improvisation skills to read the emotional tone of a scene and compose music on the spot. “This process allows me to set up a world where anything can happen, but you don’t see it coming.”
A four-time EMMY® winner, Beal’s approach is a favorite for more sophisticated works.
His TV credits include HBO’s ROME, CARNIVÀLE and the Netflix series HOUSE OF CARDS. His documentary work includes BLACKFISH, WEINER, THE QUEEN OF VERSAILLES, AN INCONVENIENT SEQUEL: TRUTH TO POWER, which premiered at Sundance and will be in theaters in July, and BOSTON an upcoming documentary about the history of the Boston Marathon. Jeff’s upcoming film projects include SHOCK AND AWE (directed by Rob Reiner).
Recently, Jeff’s performing, conducting, and composing worlds have begun converging.
In 2016 Jeff conducted The National Symphony Orchestra at the Kennedy Center in the premiere of HOUSE OF CARDS in CONCERT (represented by Columbia Artists Management), with further performances in Miami and The Netherlands. He also led the Hollywood Chamber Orchestra for the premiere of BLACKFISH live-to-picture. In May several of his pieces will be performed including “The Salvage Men” by The Apollo Chorus (Chicago), the Brooklyn Youth Chorus will premiere his piece “The Fire Brand” at BAM, and Oregon Ballet Theatre will premiere the ballet Terra, choreographed by Helen Pickett.
Born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, Beal’s grandmother was a pianist who was an accompanist for silent movies. An avid jazz fan, she gave him Miles Davis’/Gil
Evans’ Sketches of Spain album when he was beginning his trumpet studies. In addition to studying both classical and jazz trumpet, Jeff began as self-taught pianist and spent countless hours in the library learning composition on his own. He composed a trumpet concerto at age 17, which he premiered with the Oakland Youth Symphony, as well as a number of jazz charts that are still in publication today. It would be across the country at the Eastman School of Music (Rochester, NY) that Jeff would discover both his musical voice – and the love of his life, soprano Joan Beal, who frequently performs on his scores. The couple recently donated $2 million to the creation of The Beal Institute for Film Music and Contemporary Media.
After graduation, the Beals moved to New York City, where Jeff began gigging around town and was signed by Island Records, releasing several albums. In 1988, Beal was commissioned to write his first film score, the thriller CHEAP SHOTS. After relocating to the west coast, Jeff turned his focus towards writing music for visual media – initially taking smaller gigs writing industrials for then startups Pixar and Apple. The recommendation of another trumpet player, composer Mark Isham, landed him the job writing original score for the TV series NOTHING SACRED (1997-98).
International recognition would come only a few shortyears later, with the release of the film POLLOCK, earning Jeff a nomination for “Discovery of the Year” by the World Soundtrack Academy. With his improvisational style and impeccable sense of timing, Jeff has become a favorite of directors and television showrunners including Ed Harris (POLLOCK and APPALOOSA), David Fincher (HOUSE OF CARDS), documentarians Lauren Greenfield (THE QUEEN OF VERSAILLES) and Jessica Yu (PING PONG PLAYA, IN THE REALMS OF THE UNREAL and THE GUIDE).
His commissioned works have been performed by many leading ensembles and conductors, including symphony orchestras in St. Louis (Marin Alsop), Pacific (Carl St. Clair), Frankfurt, Munich, Berkeley (Kent Nagano) and Detroit (Neeme Jaarvi) Commissions include the ballet Oasis for Smuin Ballet, works for the Metropole Orchestra, Ying String Quartet, World Science Festival, & Grammy-winning guitarist Jason Vieaux. His choral commission, The Salvage Men, was written for the Los Angeles Master Chorale and the Eric Whitacre Singers. Recent works include a concerto for flutist Sharon Bezaly, men’s chorus Cantus, and Oregon Ballet Theater.