Justin Hurwitz


Composer Justin Hurwitz became best known for his work with college friend and director Damien Chazelle, most notably for the La La Land score. Hurwitz grew up in California, where he began playing the piano at the age of six. By the time he was 10, he was composing his own music. By the eighth grade, he and his family moved to Fox Point, Wisconsin where he attended Nicolet High School, graduating in 2003. Hurwitz came from an artistic family — his sister played the violin and both his parents worked in the arts — his mother was a ballerina and his father a writer. Following the completion of his high school education, the budding composer went on to study at the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music in Milwaukee with pianist Stefanie Jacob. His early years were primarily spent studying classical music, and he had an appreciation for John Williams' scores. When he was a teenager, his Uncle Ron introduced him to jazz by giving him an Oscar Peterson record. This early taste of jazz music would be the foundation of his impending friendship and collaborations with Damien Chazelle. He continued his education after the Conservatory at Harvard University. It was here that he met Chazelle. They soon became friends, playing together around Boston in the Brit-pop-inspired band Chester French (Chazelle was on drums and Hurwitz on electric piano), and later they became roommates. Their friendship and shared passion for music led to a number of collaborations after they graduated from Harvard. The first was Chazelle's debut feature, the jazz musical Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench, which Hurwitz composed the music for. Alongside his burgeoning career as a composer he was also creating a sideline in writing for shows like The Simpsons, and The League. In 2014 the film Whiplash was released. The movie, again directed by Chazelle, was about an ambitious jazz student, and Hurwitz's score earned him a Grammy Nomination for Best Score Soundtrack for Visual Media. The duo's next collaboration came much more swiftly: the romantic musical comedy-drama La La Land was the pair's biggest hit to date and garnered a host of award nominations including a win for Hurwitz's score. He was presented with the Golden Globe Awards for Best Original Score and Best Original Song for "City of Stars."

Genre: Soundtrack 

Years Active: '10s