Mychael Danna

Mychael Danna (born September 20, 1958) is a Canadian film score composer. He won both the Golden Globe and Oscar for Best Original Score for Life of Pi. He has also won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Music Composition for a Miniseries, Movie or a Special (Original Dramatic Score) in his work on World Without End: Medieval Life and Death Part 1 and 2.

Mychael Danna
Danna at Taipei Golden Horse Film Festival, Taiwan in 2018.
Background information
Born (1958-09-20) September 20, 1958
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
OriginToronto, Ontario, Canada
Years active1987–present

Life and career

Danna was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, but his family moved to Burlington, Ontario when he was four weeks old.[1] He is the brother of fellow composer Jeff Danna. He has been scoring films since his 1987 feature debut for Atom Egoyan's Family Viewing, a score which earned Danna the first of his thirteen Genie Award nominations. He has won five times for Achievement in Music - Original Score.[2] Danna is recognized as one of the pioneers of combining non-Western sound sources with orchestral and electronic minimalism in the world of film music. This reputation has led him to work with such directors as Atom Egoyan, Deepa Mehta, Terry Gilliam, Scott Hicks, Ang Lee, Gillies MacKinnon, James Mangold, Mira Nair, Billy Ray, Joel Schumacher, and Denzel Washington. His soundtrack for Ang Lee's Life of Pi earned two Academy Award nominations for Best Original Score and Best Original Song Pi's Lullaby.

He studied music composition at the University of Toronto, winning the Glenn Gould Composition Scholarship in 1985. Danna also served for five years as composer-in-residence at the McLaughlin Planetarium in Toronto (1987–1992). Works for dance include music for Dead Souls (Carbone Quatorze Dance Company, directed by Gilles Maheu 1996), and a score for the Royal Winnipeg Ballet's Gita Govinda (2001) based on the 1000-year-old classical Gita Govinda, with choreographer Nina Menon. In June 2014, Danna was awarded an honorary Doctorate by the University of Toronto, for his career achievements in the field of music.[3]


Danna's wife Aparna is of Indian origin; the couple have two sons. He is the older brother of composer Jeff Danna.

Recent projects

Recent projects include Deepa Mehta's Water, Atom Egoyan's Where the Truth Lies, Terry Gilliam's Tideland, Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris' Little Miss Sunshine, Bennett Miller's Capote, Moneyball and Marc Webb's (500) Days of Summer.


1987Family Viewing
1988Murder One
1988Blood Relations
1989Speaking Parts
1989Road to AvonleaTV series
1989One Man Out
1989Cold Comfort
1989Without Work: Not by ChoiceShort Film
1989Termini Station
1990Still Life: The Fine Art of Murder
1991The Adjuster
1991Johann's Gift to ChristmasTV Short series
1991Montréal vu par...segment: "En passant"
1991The Big Slice
1993Hush Little BabyTV movie
1993Gross MisconductTV movie
1993Ordinary Magic
1994The Darling Family
1994Narmada: A Valley RisesDocumentary
1994Dance Me Outside
1995Johnny Mnemonic
1996Dangerous Offender: The Marlene Moore StoryTV movie
1996Kama Sutra: A Tale of Love
1997The Ice Storm
1997The Sweet Hereafter
1998At the End of the Day: The Sue Rodriguez Story
1999The Boondock SaintsWith his brother Jeff Danna
1999Girl, Interrupted
1999Don't Think TwiceShort Film
1999Ride with the Devil
1999Felicia's Journey
1999The Confession
2001Hearts in Atlantis
2001Monsoon Wedding
2001The Hire: Chosen
2001Green DragonWith his brother Jeff Danna
2002Antwone Fisher
2002The Guys
2003The Snow Walker
2003Shattered Glass
2003HulkAdditional cue "Mother"
2004Being Julia
2004Vanity Fair
2005Sohni Sapna
2005Eve and the Fire Horse
2005TidelandWith his brother Jeff Danna
2005WaterBackground score only
Genie Award for Best Original Score
2005Where the Truth Lies
2005Aurora Borealis
2006The Nativity Story
2006Little Miss Sunshine
2006Lonely Hearts
2007Surf's Up
2007FractureWith his brother Jeff Danna
2008Lakeview TerraceWith his brother Jeff Danna
2009(500) Days of SummerWith Rob Simonsen
2009The Imaginarium of Doctor ParnassusWith his brother Jeff Danna
2009The Time Traveler's Wife
2011CamelotTV series
With his brother Jeff Danna
2012Life of PiAcademy Award for Best Original Score
Golden Globe Award for Best Original Score
Nominated – Academy Award for Best Original Song ("Pi's Lullaby")
2013Devil's Knot
2014The Captive
2014TyrantTV series
With his brother Jeff Danna
2015Sanjay's Super TeamShort Film
2015The Good DinosaurWith his brother Jeff Danna
2016StorksWith his brother Jeff Danna
2016Billy Lynn's Long Halftime WalkWith his brother Jeff Danna
2017The Breadwinner[5]With his brother Jeff Danna
2017The Man Who Invented Christmas
2018On the Basis of Sex
2019A Dog's Way Home
2019The Red Sea Diving Resort
2019After the Wedding
2019The Addams FamilyWith his brother Jeff Danna
2020OnwardWith his brother Jeff Danna
TBAGuest of Honour


  1. "Life of Pi golden for Burlington's Mychael Danna". Retrieved 2 November 2016.
  2. "Canada's Awards Database". 2011-03-28. Archived from the original on 2012-02-05. Retrieved 2012-02-12.
  3. "Convocation 2014: meet honorary grad Mychael Danna". Retrieved 1 September 2014.
  4. "Mychael Danna to Score Wally Pfister's 'Transcendence'". Film Music Reporter. December 19, 2013. Retrieved December 20, 2013.
  5. "Mychael & Jeff Danna to Score 'The Breadwinner'". Film Music Reporter. Film Music Reporter. 2 June 2017. Retrieved 7 July 2017.

Further reading

  • Coleman, Lindsay (2017). "Mychael Danna Interview". In Coleman, Lindsay; Tillman, Joakim (eds.). Contemporary Film Music: Investigating Cinema Narratives and Composiiton. Palgrave Macmillan. pp. 187–193. doi:10.1057/978-1-137-57375-9_12.
  • Golub, Peter; Jarzebowski, Katy (2017). "Mychael Danna: Music as Metaphor". In Coleman, Lindsay; Tillman, Joakim (eds.). Contemporary Film Music: Investigating Cinema Narratives and Composiiton. Palgrave Macmillan. pp. 195–219. doi:10.1057/978-1-137-57375-9_13.
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