Jeff Beal

Last updated
Photo of Jeff Beal, composer Composer Jeff Beal conducting his score for House of Cards.jpg
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's music 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]

Concert works

Beal has a catalogue of 35 concert works, published by G. Schirmer Inc./AMP, including many commissioned orchestral, choral and dance compositions. [15] 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 [16] the National Symphony Orchestra in House of Cards in Concert at the Kennedy Center, [17] and the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra performing Beal's new score for Buster Keaton's "The General". [18]

Later life

Beal disclosed that in 2007 he was diagnosed as suffering from 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


1988Perpetual Motion
1991Objects in the Mirror
1993Three Graces
1996The Gathering with Joan Beal
1997Alternate 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
2018House of Cards Symphony

Related Research Articles


In music, a cadenza is, generically, an improvised or written-out ornamental passage played or sung by a soloist or soloists, usually in a "free" rhythmic style, and often allowing virtuosic display. During this time the accompaniment will rest, or sustain a note or chord. Thus an improvised cadenza is indicated in written notation by a fermata in all parts. A cadenza will usually occur over the final or penultimate note in a piece, the lead-in or over the final or penultimate note in an important subsection of a piece. It can also be found before a final coda or ritornello.

Arturo Sandoval Cuban jazz trumpeter, pianist and composer

Arturo Sandoval is a Cuban-American jazz trumpeter, pianist, and composer. While living in his native Cuba, Sandoval was influenced by jazz musicians Charlie Parker, Clifford Brown, and Dizzy Gillespie. In 1977 he met Gillespie, who became his friend and mentor and helped him defect from Cuba while on tour with the United Nations Orchestra. Sandoval became an American naturalized citizen in 1998. His life was the subject of the film For Love or Country: The Arturo Sandoval Story (2000) starring Andy García.

Chick Corea American musician and composer

Armando Anthony "Chick" Corea was an American jazz composer, keyboardist, bandleader, and occasional percussionist. His compositions "Spain", "500 Miles High", "La Fiesta", "Armando's Rhumba" and "Windows" are widely considered jazz standards. As a member of Miles Davis's band in the late 1960s, he participated in the birth of jazz fusion. In the 1970s he formed Return to Forever. Along with McCoy Tyner, Herbie Hancock, and Keith Jarrett, Corea is considered one of the foremost jazz pianists of the post-John Coltrane era.

Eastman School of Music American professional school of music

The Eastman School of Music is the music school of the University of Rochester in Rochester, New York. It was established in 1921 by industrialist and philanthropist George Eastman.

Michael Daugherty American composer, pianist, and teacher

Michael Kevin Daugherty is an American composer, pianist, and teacher. He is influenced by popular culture, Romanticism, and Postmodernism. Daugherty's notable works include his Superman comic book-inspired Metropolis Symphony for Orchestra (1988–93), Dead Elvis for Solo Bassoon and Chamber Ensemble (1993), Jackie O (1997), Niagara Falls for Symphonic Band (1997), UFO for Solo Percussion and Orchestra (1999) and for Symphonic Band (2000), Bells for Stokowski from Philadelphia Stories for Orchestra (2001) and for Symphonic Band (2002), Fire and Blood for Solo Violin and Orchestra (2003) inspired by Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo, Time Machine for Three Conductors and Orchestra (2003), Ghost Ranch for Orchestra (2005), Deus ex Machina for Piano and Orchestra (2007), Labyrinth of Love for Soprano and Chamber Winds (2012), American Gothic for Orchestra (2013), and Tales of Hemingway for Cello and Orchestra (2015). Daugherty has been described by The Times (London) as "a master icon maker" with a "maverick imagination, fearless structural sense and meticulous ear."

Scott Healy is an American pianist, keyboardist and composer best known as the keyboardist for Conan O'Brien. He was the keyboard player for the Jimmy Vivino and the Basic Cable Band on Conan on TBS. His association with O'Brien dates back to the original Late Night with Conan O'Brien show in 1993, and the subsequent The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien. He was nominated for a Grammy for 'Best Instrumental Composition' for 'Koko On The Boulevard'

Samuel Hans Adler is an American composer, conductor, author, and professor. During the course of a professional career which ranges over six decades he has served as a faculty member at both the University of Rochester's Eastman School of Music and the Juilliard School. In addition, he is credited with founding and conducting the Seventh Army Symphony Orchestra which participated in the cultural diplomacy initiatives of the United States in Germany and throughout Europe in the aftermath of World War II. Adler's musical catalogue includes over 400 published compositions. He has been honored with several awards including Germany's Order of Merit – Officer's Cross.

Billy Childs

William Edward Childs is an American jazz pianist, composer, arranger and conductor from Los Angeles, California, United States.

Bill Cunliffe Musical artist

William Henry Cunliffe Jr., known professionally as Bill Cunliffe, is an American jazz pianist and composer.

Allen Vizzutti Musical artist

Allen Vizzutti is an American trumpeter, composer and music educator.

Christopher Chapman Rouse III was an American composer. Though he wrote for various ensembles, Rouse is primarily known for his orchestral compositions, including a Requiem, a dozen concertos, and six symphonies. His work received numerous accolades, including the Kennedy Center Friedheim Award, the Grammy Award for Best Classical Contemporary Composition, and the Pulitzer Prize for Music. He also served as the composer-in-residence for the New York Philharmonic from 2012 to 2015.

Richard Bissill is a French horn player, composer and arranger, and Professor at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London.

James E. Pugh Musical artist

James Edward Pugh is an American trombonist, composer, and educator. He is noted as the lead trombonist with Woody Herman's Thundering Herd (1972–1976) and Chick Corea's Return to Forever Band (1977–1978). For 25 years, he worked as a freelance trombonist in New York City. In recent years, he toured and recorded with the rock group Steely Dan, is a founding member of the Graham Ashton Brass Ensemble, and is on faculty as Distinguished Professor of Jazz Trombone at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Raymond Premru Musical artist

Raymond Eugene Premru was an American trombonist, composer, and teacher who spent most of his career in London, England.

Jeff Tyzik is an American conductor, arranger, and trumpeter. He has recorded jazz albums as a soloist and arranged pop and jazz music for orchestras.

Orchestral jazz is a jazz genre that developed in New York City in the 1920s. Early innovators of the genre, such as Fletcher Henderson and Duke Ellington, include some of the most highly regarded musicians, composers, and arrangers in all of jazz history. The fusion of jazz's rhythmic and instrumental characteristics with the scale and structure of an orchestra, made orchestral jazz distinct from the musical genres that preceded its emergence. Its development contributed both to the popularization of jazz, as well as the critical legitimization of jazz as an art form.

Joseph Curiale Musical artist

Joseph Curiale is an American composer, producer, songwriter, arranger and conductor.

1970s in jazz

In the 1970s in jazz, jazz become increasingly influenced by Latin jazz, combining rhythms from African and Latin American countries, often played on instruments such as conga, timbale, güiro, and claves, with jazz and classical harmonies played on typical jazz instruments. Artists such as Chick Corea, John McLaughlin and Al Di Meola increasingly influenced the genre with jazz fusion, a hybrid form of jazz-rock fusion which was developed by combining jazz improvisation with rock rhythms, electric instruments, and the highly amplified stage sound of rock musicians such as Jimi Hendrix. All Music Guide states that "..until around 1967, the worlds of jazz and rock were nearly completely separate." However, " rock became more creative and its musicianship improved, and as some in the jazz world became bored with hard bop and did not want to play strictly avant-garde music, the two different idioms began to trade ideas and occasionally combine forces." On June 16, 1972 the New York Jazz Museum opened in New York City at 125 West 55th Street in a one and one-half story building. It became the most important institution for jazz in the world with a 25,000 item archive, free concerts, exhibits, film programs, etc.

Daniel William McCarthy is an American composer, author, conductor, professor, and black belt martial artist. He has been Professor and Chair of Music Composition and Theory Studies at The University of Akron: School of Music and held the Theodor Dreiser Distinguished Research/Creativity Award at Indiana State University School of Music. He is co-author of "Theory for Today's Musician" with Ralph Turek, published by Routledge Francis & Taylor, NYC? His career as a conductor included serving on the conducting staff of the Cleveland Chamber Symphony, four seasons as Music Director of the Interlochen Festival Orchestra, Interlochen, Michigan, as well as conducting the University of Akron Symphony Orchestra and the Terre Haute Symphony Youth Orchestra. McCarthy, a dedicated martial artist, was promoted to 3rd Degree Black Belt in Chun Ma Tae Kwon Do in May 2012. A student of Grand Master Jeon Gyeong Ho, Akron, Ohio, he pursued additional studies in Asian Weapons, American Kenpo, and Chin Na Kung Fu with Grand Master Sifu James Adkins in Traverse City, Michigan.

Josh Deutsch is an American musician and composer. Primarily known as a trumpet player, he is a founding member of the Queens Jazz Overground, leads the band Pannonia and the Josh Deutsch Quintet, and performs regularly in a duo with guitarist Nico Soffiato. Deutsch is also an educator, who has taught privately and at various institutions including the Queens College CPSM and the University of Oregon, as well as mentoring at the Young Composers and Improvisors Workshop. He has toured extensively throughout North America, Europe and Asia during his career.


  1. "Music Sales Composer Bio Jeff Beal" . Retrieved 2019-02-02.
  2. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-11-25. Retrieved 2011-11-13.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  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" . 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. 1 2 3 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" . Retrieved 2 February 2019.
  10. "Jeff Beal: Alternate Route" . Retrieved 2 February 2019.
  11. "Jeff Beal on Apple Music". Apple Music. Retrieved 21 January 2019.
  12. "Composer Adds Color to Pollock". Variety. Retrieved 2 February 2019.
  13. "Jeff Beal Emmy Awards" . Retrieved 2019-02-02.
  14. "Jeff Beal". IMDb. Retrieved 21 January 2019.
  15. "Composer Jeff Beal Works" . Retrieved 2 February 2019.
  16. "BSO Boston Marathon Documentary Soundtrack" . Retrieved 2 February 2019.
  17. "Billboard: House of Cards Composer Jeff Beal Premieres Symphony Before Cast Members at Kennedy Center" . Retrieved 15 July 2016.
  18. "LACO@The Movies" . Retrieved 2 February 2019.