Justin Hurwitz

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Justin Hurwitz
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Hurwitz in 2016
Justin Gabriel Hurwitz [1]

(1985-01-22) January 22, 1985 (age 34) [1]
Education Nicolet High School
Alma mater Harvard University
OccupationComposer, screenwriter
Parent(s)Ken Hurwitz
Gail Hurwitz

Justin Gabriel Hurwitz (born January 22, 1985) [1] [2] is an American film composer and a television writer. He is best known for his longtime collaboration with director Damien Chazelle, scoring each of his films: Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench (2009), Whiplash (2014), La La Land (2016), and First Man (2018). [3] [4] [5] [6]

Damien Chazelle French-American director and screenwriter

Damien Sayre Chazelle is a French-American director, film producer, and screenwriter, best known for his films Whiplash (2014), La La Land (2016), and First Man (2018). For La La Land he received several accolades, including the Golden Globe Award and the Academy Award for Best Director; he was the youngest person to win both awards at age 32.

<i>Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench</i> 2009 film by Damien Chazelle

Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench is a 2009 American independent black-and-white romantic musical film directed, written, produced, shot, and co-edited by Damien Chazelle in his directorial debut, and it recasts the MGM musical tradition in a gritty, vérité style. It stars Jason Palmer, Desiree Garcia and Sandha Khin. The film features a unique mixture of live jazz performances and choreographed tap dancing, as well as several more traditional musical numbers.

<i>Whiplash</i> (2014 film) 2014 film directed by Damien Chazelle

Whiplash is a 2014 American drama film written and directed by Damien Chazelle. It depicts the relationship between an ambitious jazz drumming student and an abusive instructor. Paul Reiser and Melissa Benoist co-star.


For La La Land, he won two Academy Awards: Best Original Score and Best Original Song (for "City of Stars") as well as the Golden Globe Awards for Best Original Score and Best Original Song (for "City of Stars"), and the BAFTA Award for Best Film Music. [7] For First Man, he won the Golden Globe Award for Best Original Score.

Academy Awards American awards given annually for excellence in cinematic achievements

The Academy Awards, also officially and popularly known as the Oscars, are awards for artistic and technical merit in the film industry. Given annually by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS), the awards are an international recognition of excellence in cinematic achievements as assessed by the Academy's voting membership. The various category winners are awarded a copy of a golden statuette, officially called the "Academy Award of Merit", although more commonly referred to by its nickname "Oscar". The statuette depicts a knight rendered in Art Deco style.

The Academy Award for Best Original Score is an award presented annually by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) to the best substantial body of music in the form of dramatic underscoring written specifically for the film by the submitting composer.

The Academy Award for Best Original Song is one of the awards given annually to people working in the motion picture industry by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS). It is presented to the songwriters who have composed the best original song written specifically for a film. The performers of a song are not credited with the Academy Award unless they contributed either to music, lyrics or both in their own right. The songs that are nominated for this award are performed during the ceremony and before this award is presented.

Early life

Hurwitz was born in California, [1] the son of Gail (née Halabe), [1] a professional ballet dancer turned registered nurse, and Ken Hurwitz, a writer. [8] [9] [10] His family is Jewish (from Russia, Poland, Damascus in Syria, and Beirut in Lebanon). [11] [12] [13] [14] [15] His family moved to Wisconsin in 1998 [9] where he attended Nicolet High School. [16] [17]

American Jews Ethnic group

American Jews, or Jewish Americans, are Americans who are Jews, whether by religion, ethnicity, or nationality. Today the Jewish community in the United States consists primarily of Ashkenazi Jews, who descend from diaspora Jewish populations of Central and Eastern Europe and comprise about 90-95% of the American Jewish population. Most American Ashkenazim are US-born, with a dwindling number of now-elderly earlier immigrants, as well as some more recent foreign-born immigrants.

Damascus City in Syria

Damascus is the capital of the Syrian Arab Republic; it is also the country's largest city, following the decline in population of Aleppo due to the battle for the city. It is colloquially known in Syria as aš-Šām (الشام) and titled the "City of Jasmine". In addition to being one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, Damascus is a major cultural center of the Levant and the Arab world. The city has an estimated population of 1,711,000 as of 2009.

Syria Country in Western Asia

Syria, officially the Syrian Arab Republic, is a country in Western Asia, bordering Lebanon to the southwest, the Mediterranean Sea to the west, Turkey to the north, Iraq to the east, Jordan to the south, and Israel to the southwest. A country of fertile plains, high mountains, and deserts, Syria is home to diverse ethnic and religious groups, including Syrian Arabs, Greeks, Armenians, Assyrians, Kurds, Circassians, Mandeans and Turkemens. Religious groups include Sunnis, Christians, Alawites, Druze, Isma'ilis, Mandeans, Shiites, Salafis, Yazidis, and Jews. Sunnis make up the largest religious group in Syria.

Hurwitz attended Harvard University, where he was roommates with director Damien Chazelle. [18] They collaborated on a student film that would become Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench , which was released in 2009. [9] [6] While in school Hurwitz was a member of the Harvard Lampoon and was an original member of the indie-pop band Chester French with Chazelle. [19]

Harvard University Private research university in Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States

Harvard University is a private Ivy League research university in Cambridge, Massachusetts, with about 6,700 undergraduate students and about 15,250 postgraduate students. Established in 1636 and named for its first benefactor, clergyman John Harvard, Harvard is the United States' oldest institution of higher learning. Its history, influence, wealth, and academic reputation have made it one of the most prestigious universities in the world. It has often been cited as the world's top university by most publishers.

Chester French

Chester French was an American indie pop band consisting of lead vocalist and songwriter David-Andrew 'D.A.' Wallach and multi-instrumentalist and songwriter Maxwell Drummey. They met as college students at Harvard University, naming their band after sculptor Daniel Chester French, who designed the statue at the Lincoln Memorial, the John Harvard statue, as well as the Minuteman statue at the Lexington/Concord battlegrounds in Massachusetts. Milwaukee-raised Wallach and Boston native Drummey quickly found a lot of shared ground in musical tastes and philosophies and before long formed a band with three other classmates, playing various campus functions, eventually moving in a direction heavily influenced by classic British Northern Soul. Over the summer both stayed in Cambridge, working hard at songwriting. But when school resumed, they realized that the material went way beyond the basic guitar-bass-drums-piano format of the band, and the duo continued the work themselves, Wallach handling most of the vocals, Drummey performing much of the music on multiple instruments, supplemented with the occasional special guest – and both taking production and engineering duties for recordings.


After college, Hurwitz and Chazelle moved to Los Angeles where Hurwitz wrote comedy for the sitcom The League and one episode of The Simpsons . [9] Thanks to the success of Guy and Madeline, they were able to obtain financing for their next collaboration, the 2014 film Whiplash – with Hurwitz scoring the film and Chazelle writing and directing. [9] Hurwitz also scored Chazelle's 2016 film La La Land , for which Chazelle won the Oscar for Best Director and Hurwitz won two Oscars for Best Original Score and Best Original Song.

<i>The League</i> television series

The League is an American sitcom that aired on FX and later FXX from October 29, 2009 to December 9, 2015 for a total of seven seasons. The series, set in Chicago, Illinois, is a semi-improvised comedy show about a fantasy football league, its members, and their everyday lives.

<i>The Simpsons</i> American animated sitcom created by Matt Groening

The Simpsons is an American animated sitcom created by Matt Groening for the Fox Broadcasting Company. The series is a satirical depiction of working-class life, epitomized by the Simpson family, which consists of Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa, and Maggie. The show is set in the fictional town of Springfield and parodies American culture and society, television, and the human condition.

<i>La La Land</i> (film) 2016 film directed by Damien Chazelle

La La Land is a 2016 American romantic comedy-drama musical film written and directed by Damien Chazelle. It stars Ryan Gosling as a jazz pianist and Emma Stone as an aspiring actress, who meet and fall in love while pursuing their dreams in Los Angeles.



2009 Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench Composer
2014 Whiplash Composer
2016 La La Land Composer
2018 First Man Composer


2011 The Simpsons WriterEpisode: "The Falcon and the D'ohman"
2011 The League Writer7 episodes
2017 Curb Your Enthusiasm Writer/Producer10 episodes

Awards and nominations

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  3. D'Alessandro, Anthony (December 10, 2016). "How 'La La Land' Director Damien Chazelle, His Team & Lionsgate Faced the Music & Resurrected the Original Hollywood Musical". Deadline Hollywood . Retrieved December 12, 2016.
  4. "'Moonlight' Named Best Picture by L.A. Film Critics". Yahoo! . Retrieved December 12, 2016.
  5. Orr, Christopher (December 9, 2016). "The Novelty and Nostalgia of 'La La Land'". The Atlantic . Retrieved December 12, 2016.
  6. 1 2 Bryan Abrams (September 23, 2014). "Whiplash Composer Justin Hurwitz Settles the Score". wheretowatch.com.
  7. "Justin Hurwitz wins best original score in a motion picture at Golden Globes". The Hollywood Reporter .
  8. Bloom, Nate (February 13, 2017). "The tribe goes to the Oscars". J. The Jewish News of Northern California . Retrieved June 5, 2018.
  9. 1 2 3 4 5 Jewish News of Northern California: "News go to the Oscars; Justin Hurwitz's proud Marin mom; etc." by Nate Bloom. February 27, 2017 |"Both my children are very proud of their Middle Eastern heritage and culture"
  10. Levy, Piet (February 17, 2017). "Oscar-nominated 'La La Land' composer Justin Hurwitz got his start in Milwaukee". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel . Retrieved June 5, 2018.
  11. Bloom, Nate (February 23, 2017). "The tribe goes to the Oscars, 2017". Jewish Standard. Retrieved May 20, 2018.
  12. Times of Israel: "La La Land: Who knew it was so Jewish" by Francine Wolfsiz February 27, 2017
  13. Jerusalem Post: "HOW DID JEWISH TALENT FARE AT THE GOLDEN GLOBES?" January 9, 2017
  14. Jewish Telegraph Agency: "Oscars 2017: 7 unexpected Jewish facts" By Gabe Friedman February 23, 2017
  15. Connecticut Jewish Ledger: "La La Land's Jewish composer nominated for Oscar" January 25th, 2017
  16. Chris Foran (January 9, 2017). "Nicolet's Justin Hurwitz wins 2 Golden Globes". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel .
  17. TMJ4 News: "Nicolet HS graduate Justin Hurwitz wins 2 Golden Globes for 'La La Land'" by Brandon Rook January 9, 2017
  18. http://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2017/01/harvard-and-its-la-la-land-connection
  19. Phares, Heather. "Chester French - Biography". Allmusic . Retrieved 2009-07-15.