Jeff Beal is an American composer of music for film, media, and the concert hall. With musical beginnings as a jazz trumpeter and recording artist, his works are infused with an understanding of rhythm and spontaneity. Steven Schneider of The New York Times wrote of “the richness of Beal's musical thinking ... his compositions often capture the liveliness and unpredictability of the best improvisation.” Beal’s seven solo albums, including Three Graces and Contemplations (Triloka), Red Shift (Koch Jazz), and Liberation (Island Records) established him as a respected recording artist and composer.
Beal’s eclectic music has been singled out for critical acclaim and recognition. His score and theme for the Netflix drama House of Cards has received a Primetime Emmy Award and four nominations. Regarding his compelling score for the documentary Blackfish, the late film critic Roger Ebert wrote of Beal’s ability to “invoke many genres: thriller, mystery, melodrama.” Another lauded documentary, The Queen of Versailles, opened the 2012 Sundance Film Festival. Michael Phillips of the Chicago Tribune wrote that, “scored wittily by composer Jeff Beal, the film glides along on Beal's waltz theme, a theme full of elegance and class and a discordant hint of storm clouds.”
Scoring Ed Harris’s beautifully balletic painting scenes in Pollock was an exceptional opportunity for Beal. Los Angeles Times film critic Kenneth Turan wrote, “To watch Lisa Rinzler's expressive shots of Harris as Pollock create his paintings, especially the famously acrobatic drip canvases, to Jeff Beal's Aaron Copland–influenced music is little short of thrilling."
He has received 15 Primetime Emmy Award nominations for his music and has won four statues. Other scores of note include his dramatic music for HBO’s acclaimed series Carnivale and Rome, as well as his comedic score and theme for the detective series Monk. Beal composes, orchestrates, conducts, records, and mixes his own scores, which gives his music a very personal, distinctive touch.
Beal’s commissioned works have been performed by many leading orchestras, including the St. Louis (Marin Alsop), Rochester, Pacific (Carl St. Clair), Frankfurt, Munich, and Detroit (Neeme Järvi) symphony orchestras. Kent Nagano commissioned and premiered two works, Alternate Route for trumpet and orchestra with Beal as soloist, and Interchange for string quartet and orchestra. Other commissions include the ballet Oasis for Smuin Ballet, and works for Light Falls for the World Science Festival, The Metropole Orchestra, Ying String Quartet, Debussy Trio, Henry Mancini Institute, Chamber Music Festival of Lexington, Grammy Award winning guitarist Jason Vieaux. His score for Philip Haas’s art installation Butchers, Dragons, Gods & Skeletons was showcased at the Kimball Art Museum and the 2011 Venice Biennale. His first choral commission, entitled The Salvage Men, was written for the Los Angeles Master Chorale. Current commissions include new works for The Brooklyn Youth Chorus, a concerto for flutist Sharon Bezaly, and song cycles for Cantus.
Born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, Beal's grandmother Irene was a pianist who performed on the radio and as accompanist for silent movies. She was an avid jazz fan and gave him the Miles Davis-Gil Evans Sketches of Spain album when he was beginning his trumpet studies. Beal graduated in from the Eastman School of Music, where he returned in 2011 as commencement speaker and honored alumnus. He now mentors and encourages young composers as a participant in the Sundance Film Music Program seminars and as a guest lecturer at conservatories. Beal met his wife, soprano Joan Beal, at Eastman School of Music, where the couple recently donated $2 million to the creation of The Beal Institute for Film Music and Contemporary Media.