Don Davis (composer)

Donald Romain Davis (born February 4, 1957) is an American composer, conductor, and orchestrator. Best known for his work on The Matrix franchise, he has worked on numerous television and film scores, collaborating with directors including The Wachowskis, Ronny Yu, and Joe Johnston in film genres ranging from horror, to action, to comedy. He is the recipient of two Primetime Emmy Awards and four BMI Film Music Awards.

Don Davis
Donald Romain Davis

(1957-02-04) February 4, 1957
OccupationFilm score composer, opera composer, conductor, musician
Megan MacDonald (m. 1986)
Parent(s)Don Davis
Anne Davis
Musical career
GenresFilm score, electronica, breakbeat, downtempo, neo-classical dark wave

Davis was born in Anaheim, California. After graduating from high school, Davis enrolled at UCLA. He continued his study of musical composition with tutor Henri Lazarof. Additionally, he learned orchestration from Albert Harris. During their orchestration lessons, Harris introduced Davis to the TV composer Joe Harnell, who supported Davis during his search for workhis first job was working for composer Mark Snow's TV show Hart to Hart. He has worked as an orchestrator and conductor for Michael Kamen, Alan Silvestri, James Horner, and Randy Newman.

Film and television scoring

Davis won Emmys in 1990 for Beauty and the Beast and 1995 for SeaQuest DSV. He wrote scores mostly for television series up until 1995, in which he wrote a few of the cues for the animated Disney motion picture A Goofy Movie. He continued to score television series until the two then young directors, the Wachowskis, hired him to score their neo-noir film Bound. It was reasonably successful at the box office. Bound was the film which led Davis into becoming the composer for the entire Matrix trilogy. Subsequently, Davis has composed scores for films such as Jurassic Park III (recommended to the filmmakers by John Williams, the composer of the scores for the first two films in the series), House on Haunted Hill, Behind Enemy Lines, and The Unsaid. In 2004, he produced the music score for the BBC science fiction documentary series Space Odyssey: Voyage to the Planets, released as Voyage to the Planets and Beyond in the United States.

Davis' magnum opus is the Matrix franchise: The Matrix, The Matrix Reloaded, The Matrix Revolutions, and The Animatrix. It was set apart from other film scores of its time for its atonality and avant garde style of composition, with influences from polytonal minimalist works like John Adams' Short Ride in a Fast Machine and cluster-like as well as aleatoric techniques prominent in the works of composer Witold Lutosławski.


Don Davis' political opera, Río de Sangre, received its premiere at the Florentine Opera Company on October 22, 2010. Previously, excerpts from the opera were performed in Los Angeles with the Los Angeles Master Chorale on November 6, 2005, and the New York City Opera on May 13, 2007.



Year Title Director(s) Studio(s) Notes
1984 Hyperspace Todd Durham N/A N/A
1988 Blackout Doug Adams N/A N/A
1991 Session Man Seth Winston N/A Short film
1992 Tiny Toon Adventures: How I Spent My Vacation Various Warner Home Video Direct-to-video
1994 A Little Tailor's Christmas Story Allan Rich N/A Short film
1995 A Goofy Movie Kevin Lima Walt Disney Pictures Additional music
Score composed by Carter Burwell
1996 Bound The Wachowskis Gramercy Pictures N/A
1997 Warriors of Virtue Ronny Yu Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer N/A
1998 The Lesser Evil David Mackay N/A
1999 The Matrix The Wachowskis Warner Bros. Pictures N/A
Universal Soldier: The Return Mic Rodgers TriStar Pictures N/A
Turbulence 2: Fear of Flying David Mackay Trimark Pictures Direct-to-video
House on Haunted Hill William Malone Warner Bros. Pictures N/A
2001 Antitrust Peter Howitt Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer N/A
Valentine Jamie Blanks Warner Bros. Pictures N/A
Jurassic Park III Joe Johnston Universal Pictures N/A
The Unsaid Tom McLoughlin Global Cinema Group N/A
Behind Enemy Lines John Moore 20th Century Fox N/A
2002 Long Time Dead Marcus Adams Working Title Films N/A
Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever Kaos Warner Bros. Pictures N/A
2003 The Matrix Reloaded The Wachowskis N/A
The Animatrix Various Warner Home Video with Machine Head and Photek
The Matrix Revolutions The Wachowskis Warner Bros. Pictures N/A
2004 Mighty Times: The Children's March Robert Houston HBO Family Documentary short
2006 The Marine John Bonito 20th Century Fox N/A
2007 The Good Life Steve Berra Image Entertainment N/A
Ten Inch Hero David Mackay Phase 4 Films N/A
2017 Tokyo Ghoul Kentarō Hagiwara Shochiku N/A
2018 Beyond the Sky Fulvio Sestito RLJE Films N/A


Television film

Year Title Director Notes
1988 Bluegrass Simon Wincer N/A
1988 A Stoning in Fulham County Larry Elikann N/A
1988 Quiet Victory: The Charlie Wedemeyer Story Roy Campanella II N/A
1989 Home Fires Burning Glenn Jordan N/A
1990 Running Against Time Bruce Seth Green N/A
1991 Lies Before Kisses Lou Antonio N/A
1991 A Little Piece of Heaven Mimi Leder N/A
1992 Notorious Colin Bucksey N/A
1992 Woman with a Past Mimi Leder N/A
1993 Country Estates Donald Petrie N/A
1993 Murder of Innocence Tom McLoughlin N/A
1994 Bitter Blood Jeff Bleckner N/A
1994 Leave of Absence Tom McLoughlin N/A
1995 Sleep, Baby, Sleep Armand Mastroianni N/A
1996 For Love Alone: The Ivana Trump Story Michael Lindsay-Hogg N/A
1996 In the Lake of the Woods Carl Schenkel N/A
1996 The Beast Jeff Bleckner N/A
1996 The Perfect Daughter Harry Longstreet N/A
1997 Alibi Andy Wolk N/A
1997 Not in This Town Donald Wrye N/A
1997 A Match Made in Heaven Paul Wendkos N/A
1997 Weapons of Mass Distraction Stephen Surjik N/A
1997 The Third Twin Tom McLoughlin N/A
1997 House of Frankenstein Peter Werner N/A
1998 The Lake David Jackson N/A
1998 Life of the Party: The Pamela Harriman Story Waris Hussein N/A
1998 Route 9 David Mackay N/A
1999 In the Company of Spies Tim Matheson N/A
2000 Hell Swarm Tim Matheson N/A
2000 Race Against Time Geoff Murphy N/A
2000 Personally Yours Jeffrey Reiner N/A
2002 Murder in Greenwich Tom McLoughlin N/A
2006 Augusta, Gone Tim Matheson N/A

Television series

Year Title Notes
1983–1984 Hart to Hart N/A
1987 Sledge Hammer! N/A
1987–1990 Beauty and the Beast N/A
1990 Matlock N/A
1991 My Life and Times N/A
1990–1991 Tiny Toon Adventures N/A
1992 The Plucky Duck Show Episode: "A Ditch in Time" (Season 1, Episode 7)
1993 Star Trek: The Next Generation Episode: "Face of the Enemy"
1992–1995 Capitol Critters N/A
1993–1994 Taz-Mania N/A
1994–1995 seaQuest DSV N/A
1995 CBS Schoolbreak Special Episode: "Between Mother and Daughter" (Season 12, Episode 5)
1996 Doomsday Virus N/A
2004 Space Odyssey N/A

Video games

Year Title Studio(s) Notes
2003 Enter the Matrix Shiny Entertainment N/A
2005 The Matrix Online Monolith Productions N/A

Orchestration work

In addition to orchestrate and conducting his own scores, Don Davis has done orchestration work for many other composers. He was also conductor for the movie Flowers in the Attic, whose score was composed by Christopher Young, and for the TV documentary Eagles: Hell Freezes Over, and did arrangements for The 86th Academy Awards.

Year Film Composer Notes
1983-1985 V (TV) Joe Harnell 1 episode.
1985-1989 Moonlighting (TV)
1986 Police Academy 3: Back in Training Robert Folk Credited as additional orchestrator.
1987 Police Academy 4: Citizens On Patrol
1988 The In Crowd Mark Snow
1990 Die Hard 2 Michael Kamen
1991 If Looks Could Kill David Foster
Hudson Hawk Michael Kamen
Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves
Ricochet Alan Silvestri
1992 Death Becomes Her
The Muppet Christmas Carol Miles Goodman
Paul Williams
1993 Cop and a Half Alan Silvestri
Last Action Hero Michael Kamen Uncredited.
Hocus Pocus John Debney
We're Back! A Dinosaur's Story James Horner
The Pelican Brief
1994 When A Man Loves A Woman Zbigniew Preisner Credited as additional orchestrator. Also composed additional music.
Clean Slate Alan Silvestri Uncredited.
Maverick Randy Newman
Thumbelina Barry Manilow
William Ross
I Love Trouble David Newman
Clear And Present Danger James Horner
The Pagemaster
Legends Of The Fall Uncredited.
1995 A Goofy Movie Carter Burwell It was never confirmed if he worked on Burwell's score. However, he orchestrated and conducted his own cues.
Casper James Horner
Apollo 13 Uncredited.
Toy Story Randy Newman
Balto James Horner
1996 James And The Giant Peach Randy Newman Also did song arrangements.
The Phantom David Newman Uncredited.
Courage Under Fire James Horner
Michael Randy Newman
1997 Titanic James Horner Credited as additional orchestrator.
1998 Pleasantville Randy Newman
A Bug's Life
2000 Meet The Parents
2010 Toy Story 3
2017 Cars 3
2019 Toy Story 4
Marriage Story
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