Alf Heiberg Clausen (born March 28, 1941) is an American film and television composer. He is best known for his work scoring many episodes of The Simpsons, of which he had been the sole composer between 1990 and 2017. Clausen has scored or orchestrated music for more than 30 films and television shows, including Moonlighting, The Naked Gun, ALF and Ferris Bueller's Day Off. Clausen received an Honorary Doctorate of Music from the prestigious Berklee College of Music in 1996.
|Birth name||Alf Heiberg Clausen|
|Born||March 28, 1941|
Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States
|Genres||Film and television scores|
|Occupation(s)||Composer, songwriter, producer|
|Instruments||French horn, bass|
Clausen was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota and raised in Jamestown, North Dakota. Clausen was interested in music from a young age. He counts composer Henry Mancini as one of his heroes; his book Sounds and Scores inspired him. He sang in his high school choir and began playing the French horn in the seventh grade (Grade 7) and also learned piano. He continued playing and learned to play the bass guitar, stopping singing because the choir met at the same time as the band. He studied mechanical engineering at North Dakota State University although, after being inspired by his pianist cousin, switched his major to musical theory. Whilst there, Clausen took a correspondence course at Boston's Berklee College of Music in jazz and big band writing. He went on to attend the University of Wisconsin–Madison to complete his master's degree, but quit as he disliked the place, especially what he felt was an "anti-jazz" attitude. He then worked for a period as a musician. He later attended Berklee and graduated with a diploma in arranging and composition in 1966. Clausen was the first French horn player to ever attend the college and took part in many ensembles; he is also featured on some Jazz in the Classroom albums. Clausen taught at Berklee for a year after graduation.
Clausen moved to Los Angeles, California in 1967 in search of television work, wanting to become a full-time composer. For nine years he did some arrangement work for singers, ghostwriting and other composing jobs such as commercial jingles, as well as working as a teacher, music copyist and a bassist. He worked as a copyist on "Come On Get Happy", the theme song to The Partridge Family. He eventually became a score writer and later the music director and conductor for Donny & Marie between 1976 and 1979. Initially he was requested to write an emergency chart for the following day, but he was hired as a score writer and continued writing and conducting on the show, before replacing Tommy Oliver as music director. When the show moved to Utah, Clausen flew there each week from Los Angeles to record the score. He had the same role on The Mary Tyler Moore Hour in 1979. In 1981 he was nominated for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Achievement In Music Direction for Omnibus.
Clausen served as the composer for the series Moonlighting from 1985 to 1989, scoring 63 of the 65 episodes. His favorite episode to score was the episode "The Dream Sequence Always Rings Twice", which featured two lengthy black and white dream sequences and enjoyed the episode "Atomic Shakespeare", also a fantasy episode. He received an Emmy nomination for each episode in the category Outstanding Achievement In Music Composition For A Series (Dramatic Underscore) in 1986 and 1987, earning two more nominations over the next two years for the episodes "Here's Living with You, Kid" and "A Womb with a View". In 1988 and 1989 he also received nominations for the Emmy for Outstanding Achievement In Music Direction. He was also the composer on ALF from 1986 to 1990.
Other television compositions included Wizards and Warriors (1983), Fame (1984), Lime Street (1985), Christine Cromwell (1989) and My Life and Times (1991) as well as the television films Murder in Three Acts (1986), Double Agent (1987), Police Story: The Watch Commander (1988), My First Love (1988), She Knows Too Much (1989) and the feature film Number One with a Bullet (1987). He also conducted the orchestras and, for some, provided additional music for several films including The Beastmaster (1982), Airplane II: The Sequel (1982), Splash (1984), Weird Science (1985), Ferris Bueller's Day Off (1986), Dragnet (1987) and The Naked Gun (1988).
Following ALF's conclusion, Clausen was unemployed for seven months. Clausen's friend suggested him to a producer from the Fox animated series The Simpsons who were looking for a new composer. Clausen "had no interest in doing animation" and "wanted to be a drama composer." However, the show's creator Matt Groening told him "we don't look upon this as being a cartoon but a drama where the characters are drawn, and we would like it scored that way." Clausen took the job. Groening told Clausen that the "emotion [should be] scored first and the action scored second", unlike many other cartoons, and that "scoring the emotions of the characters" was the primary aim for The Simpsons. Clausen's first episode was "Treehouse of Horror", the third episode of season two, in 1990. It served as an audition and he was hired permanently after that. He has since scored almost all of the music and songs which have appeared on the show, across a wide range of musical styles through the end of the 28th season. He conducted a 35 piece orchestra for the music, a rarity for television shows, and recorded the score for an episode every week. Clausen wrote an episode's score during the week, recorded it on a Friday, with some variation if vocals are required. The limited timeframe proved the most challenging aspect of the job for Clausen; he was once required to write 57 musical cues in one week. For the show's original songs production is much longer; Clausen records the music to the writers' lyrics, over seven or eight months the scene is animated, and then Clausen can re-record the song with a full orchestra. The full orchestra allows easy transition between the wide range of musical styles required for the show. Clausen noted:
Clausen intentionally opted against composing themes for each character, with some exceptions such as Mr. Burns, and instead "[gives] each story its own theme and thematic development...That approach helps to give each story its own special identification, more like individual mini-movies." He supplements the orchestra with additional instruments, such as extra brass for the episode "Cape Feare", for which Clausen composed Sideshow Bob's theme, which continued to be played whenever Bob gets out of prison in subsequent episodes. It is based on the score of the movie Cape Fear, composed by Bernard Herrmann. The musical requests of the writers range from rerecord a specific piece of music to compose something based on this character's emotion in a scene.
Clausen has received two Primetime Emmy Awards for his work on The Simpsons, winning the award for Outstanding Individual Achievement in Music and Lyrics two years in a row. The first was for "We Put The Spring In Springfield" from the 1997 episode "Bart After Dark", the second was for "You're Checkin' In" from the 1998 episode "The City of New York vs. Homer Simpson"; the lyrics of each song were written by Ken Keeler. He has been nominated in the category a further seven times in 1994, 1995, 1996, 2002, 2003, 2004 and 2005. Clausen has also received twelve nominations for Outstanding Individual Achievement in Music Composition for a Series (Dramatic Underscore) between 1992 and 2011 and has twice been nominated for Outstanding Music Direction, in 1997 and 1998. With 30 nominations, Clausen has received more Emmy nominations than any other musician.
He has won five Annie Awards for his work on The Simpsons. He won the 1997 award for Best Music in a TV Production, the award for Outstanding Music in an Animated Television Production in 1998, again for "You're Checkin' In", the same award in 2000 for the episode "Behind the Laughter", the award for Best Music in an Animated Television Production in 2003 for "Dude, Where's My Ranch?", and again in 2007 for "Yokel Chords".
His work on the show has been released as part of three albums produced by Clausen: Songs in the Key of Springfield (1997), Go Simpsonic with The Simpsons (1999) and The Simpsons: Testify (2007). Clausen was not asked to score the film adaptation of the show, The Simpsons Movie, with Hans Zimmer getting the job. He noted: "sometimes you're the windshield, sometimes you're the bug".
Whilst working on The Simpsons, Clausen scored The Critic from 1994 to 1995 and Bette in 2000. He also scored the 1998 film Half Baked. He recorded the album Swing Can Really Hang You Up The Most in 2003, comprising the arrangements he made over his career, performed by his jazz orchestra, after self-financing it.
In 2011, Clausen was awarded the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers Golden Note Award. ASCAP President Paul Williams said his "decades of scores for The Simpsons and other TV programs and films are as endlessly inventive as the imaginations of the shows' writers and animators. It takes a lot of serious work and thought to compose, arrange and conduct such wonderfully happy music."
On August 30, 2017, after 27 years of scoring for The Simpsons, it was revealed that Clausen was dismissed from the show, with suggestions that the reasons behind the decision were largely financial. His last complete score was for "Dogtown". However, following the news of Clausen's departure, the producers of the show stated that he would "continue to have an ongoing role in the show." Beginning with Season 29, scoring was taken over by Bleeding Fingers Music, with Clausen credited as "Composer Emeritus." He is credited for composing the music for the episode "Whistler's Father".
On August 5, 2019, Clausen announced he is suing the Fox Network for his removal from the show, saying that he was fired due to old age.
Animation music is original music written specifically to accompany an animation. One of the first American animation songs is "Minnie's Yoo Hoo" (1930). In Japan, anime music has reached the top 10 of the weekly Oricon Singles Chart.Dogtown (The Simpsons)
"Dogtown" is the twenty-second episode and season finale of the twenty-eighth season of the animated television series The Simpsons, and the 618th episode of the series overall. It aired in the United States on Fox on May 21, 2017.
This was the last of The Simpsons to be scored by composer Alf Clausen, who had scored the show since 1990 before being fired in August 2017.Go Simpsonic with The Simpsons
Go Simpsonic with The Simpsons is the 1999 soundtrack album from The Simpsons. It takes many of the musical numbers from the series which were either not included in the previous album, Songs in the Key of Springfield, or were created since the previous album's release. The album has 53 tracks, most of which were written by Alf Clausen. It was well received by critics, being named the Best Compilation Album of 1999 by Soundtrack.net, and charted at number 197 on the Billboard 200.Jazz Number II
Jazz Number II is a 1973 album by Ray Charles. It is a collection of jazz/soul instrumentals featuring Charles on piano backed by his Big Band.Jeff Pescetto
Jeffrey "Jeff" Pescetto (born November 21, 1954) is an American musical artist who is most notable for collaborating with David Foster on the 1990 recreation of John Farnham's Australian single, "You're the Voice". Pescetto lent the vocals to Foster's pianism on the latter's River of Love album.
He has also written and sung songs for various movie soundtracks. His credits include Licence to Kill, Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, and Breakdown. He has also sung Tekken 5's opening song "Sparking" alongside Tom Leonard. He is also well known for being the singer of the theme songs to the 1980s Disney cartoon series Chip 'n Dale: Rescue Rangers and DuckTales, both composed by Mark Mueller (Rescue Rangers theme was also produced by Alf Clausen).In 1990, he co-wrote the album track "Rescue Me" along with Charles Olins and Steve Dubin for American singer Alisha, included on the album Bounce Back.List of awards and nominations received by Moonlighting (TV series)
Moonlighting is an American television series that aired on ABC from March 3, 1985, to May 14, 1989. The network aired a total of 66 episodes (67 in syndication as the pilot is split into two episodes). Starring Bruce Willis and Cybill Shepherd as private detectives, the show was a mixture of drama, comedy, and romance, and was considered to be one of the first successful and influential examples of comedy-drama, or "dramedy", emerging as a distinct television genre.List of awards and nominations received by The Simpsons
The Simpsons is an American animated sitcom that debuted on December 17, 1989 on the Fox network. The show is the longest-running prime time scripted television series in the United States. It has won many different awards, including 33
Emmy awards, 34 Annie Awards, nine Environmental Media Awards, twelve Writers Guild of America Awards, six Genesis Awards, eight People's Choice Awards, three British Comedy Awards, among other awards. Episodes of the show have won 10 Emmys in the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Animated Program (For Programming less than One Hour) category. However, The Simpsons has never been nominated for Outstanding Comedy Series, although the show was submitted in the category in 1993 and 1994. James L. Brooks, an executive producer on the show, won ten Emmys for The Simpsons as well as ten for other shows and holds the record for most Primetime Emmys won by a single person, with 20. The Simpsons was the first animated series to be given a Peabody Award, and in 2000 the Simpson family was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. As of 2016, The Simpsons have received a total of 85 Emmy nominations.The Simpsons Movie, released in 2007, was nominated for several major awards, including a Golden Globe Award, while The Longest Daycare, a short film released in 2013, became the franchise's first production to be nominated for an Academy Award.
The Simpsons also holds two world records from the Guinness World Records: Longest-Running Primetime Animated Television Series and Most Guest Stars Featured in a Television Series.My Kind of Jazz Part 3
My Kind of Jazz Part 3 is a 1975 album by Ray Charles released by Crossover Records. Concord Records re-issued the contents in digital form in 2009.Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Music Composition for a Series
This is a list of winners and nominees of the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Music Composition for a Series.
Starting in 2019, the category recognizes scripted programs. Unscripted programs compete for Music Composition for a Documentary Series or Special.Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Music Direction
The Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Music Direction is awarded to one television series or special each year.
In the following list, the first titles listed in gold are the winners; those not in gold are nominees, which are listed in alphabetical order. The years given are those in which the ceremonies took place.Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Original Music and Lyrics
This is a list of winners and nominees of the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Original Music and Lyrics, awarded to both the composer and lyricist.
The award has gone by several names:
Outstanding Achievement in Music, Lyrics and Special Material (1970–1973)
Best Song or Theme (1974)
Outstanding Achievement in Special Musical Material (1975–1978)
Outstanding Achievement in Music and Lyrics (1981–1991)
Outstanding Individual Achievement in Music and Lyrics (1992–1995)
Outstanding Music and Lyrics (1996–2005)
Outstanding Original Music and Lyrics (2006–present)The President Wore Pearls
"The President Wore Pearls" is the third episode of The Simpsons' fifteenth season. It first aired on the Fox network in the United States on November 16, 2003. The episode was nominated for an Emmy for Outstanding Music (by Alf Clausen) And Lyrics (by Dana Gould).The Serfsons
"The Serfsons" is the season premiere of the twenty-ninth season of the animated television series The Simpsons, and the 619th episode of the series overall. It aired in the United States on Fox on October 1, 2017.
This episode takes place in an alternate fantasy world version of Springfield. This was the first Simpsons episode to be scored by composing team Bleeding Fingers Music since longtime composer Alf Clausen, who had scored the show since 1990, was dismissed from that position on August 30, 2017.The Simpsons (season 28)
The twenty-eighth season of the animated television series The Simpsons began airing on Fox in the United States on September 25, 2016, and ended on May 21, 2017. On May 4, 2015, Fox announced that The Simpsons had been renewed for season 28.This season includes the 600th episode of the show, "Treehouse of Horror XXVII". On August 31, 2016, it was announced that an episode titled "The Caper Chase", inspired by Trump University, would air sometime in 2017; the episode aired on April 2.This season also includes the show's first hour-long episode, "The Great Phatsby", a parody of The Great Gatsby. Other noteworthy events and gags include a Pokémon Go-themed episode ("Looking for Mr. Goodbart"), couch gags spoofing Robot Chicken and Adventure Time, an episode that shows how Homer learned to feel better with food ("Fatzcarraldo"), Mr. Burns hiring all of the Simpsons (except Homer) to become his "pretend" family ("Friends and Family"), and Glenn Close returning as Mona ("Fatzcarraldo").This was the final season scored by longtime Simpsons composer Alf Clausen. This also marked the first season where former recurring guest star Kevin Michael Richardson joined the regular supporting cast, starting with the episode "The Last Traction Hero".The Simpsons (season 29)
The twenty-ninth season of the animated television series The Simpsons premiered on Fox in the United States on October 1, 2017, and ended on May 20, 2018. On November 4, 2016, The Simpsons was renewed for seasons 29 and 30. This season marked the show's surpassing Gunsmoke as the longest-running scripted series in primetime television by number of episodes, with the series' 636th episode "Forgive and Regret".The season features guest appearances from Norman Lear, Martin Short, Ray Liotta and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau. In addition, Bill Plympton animated a sixth couch gag in "3 Scenes Plus a Tag from a Marriage", having previously done so in season 23's "Beware My Cheating Bart", season 24's "Black Eyed, Please", season 25's "Married to the Blob", season 27's "Lisa the Veterinarian", and season 28's "22 for 30". This season also features Kelsey Grammer reprising his role as Sideshow Bob for a singing cameo and Homer seeking help from Shaquille O'Neal ("Gone Boy"), and a song written by guest star Rachel Bloom ("Springfield Splendor"). The season also includes the Simpson family traveling to New Orleans for JazzFest ("Lisa Gets the Blues"), and an episode that reimagines Stephen King's It featuring Krusty the Clown ("Fears of a Clown").On August 30, 2017, it was announced that longtime Simpsons score composer Alf Clausen was let go from the series. The series switched from a live orchestrated score to a produced score by Bleeding Fingers Music. Hans Zimmer (who composed the score for The Simpsons Movie) and Russel Emanuel are score producers, with Steve Kofsky executive producing. Clausen's last episode was "Whistler's Father".
During February 2018, episodes of The Simpsons were held back to avoid competing with the 60th Annual Grammy Awards, Super Bowl LII, the 2018 Winter Olympics, and the 90th Academy Awards. This resulted in a nine-week gap in between new episodes, and is the second season to not have any new episodes airing in February, after the twenty-fifth season (which also aired in a Winter Olympics year).The Simpsons Theme
"The Simpsons Theme", also referred to as "The Simpsons Main Title Theme" in album releases, is the theme music of the animated television series The Simpsons. It plays during the opening sequence and was composed by Danny Elfman in 1989, after series creator Matt Groening approached him requesting a retro-style theme. The piece has been noted by Elfman as the most popular of his career. The theme, as used for the opening sequence, was re-arranged during season 2, and the current arrangement by Alf Clausen was introduced at the beginning of the third season.
It has also been edited many times to coincide with edits of various lengths for the opening sequence, and there have been extended edits and re-recordings for lengthened opening sequences. Several versions of the saxophone solo riff, ostensibly played by character Lisa Simpson in the animated sequence, have been created over the course of the series. The theme is in the acoustic scale.A slightly different arrangement of the theme usually plays over the end credits of the show. Originally, there were two main versions of the closing theme, with the longer version ending in a lower key. Both versions were re-arranged for season 3, but only the short version was in use by the time the show switched domestic production from Klasky Csupo to Film Roman season 4, and that version was edited to be even shorter by the end of season 6. The alternate longer closing theme however resurfaced in a handful of post-season 4 episodes, but mostly in credit sequences that do not play music during the first half of the sequence (either with dialogue heard underneath or video footage playing under the first half of the credits).Treehouse of Horror IX
"Treehouse of Horror IX" is the fourth episode in the tenth season of the American animated television series The Simpsons. It first aired on the Fox network in the United States on October 25, 1998. This is the ninth Treehouse of Horror episode, and, like the other "Treehouse of Horror" episodes, contains three self-contained segments: In "Hell Toupée", Homer gets a hair transplant and is possessed by the spirit of an executed criminal; in "Terror of Tiny Toon", Bart and Lisa are trapped in a special, extremely violent episode of The Itchy & Scratchy Show; and in "Starship Poopers", Marge reveals that Maggie is the product of a one-night stand with the alien Kang.
"Treehouse of Horror IX" was written by Donick Cary, Larry Doyle and David S. Cohen, and directed by Steven Dean Moore. "Terror of Tiny Toon" includes a live-action segment starring Regis Philbin and Kathie Lee Gifford. Jerry Springer and Ed McMahon also appear in the episode, voicing themselves, while Robert Englund provides the voice of Freddy Krueger from the Nightmare on Elm Street film series. The episode also features Jason Voorhees from the Friday the 13th series while various characters visit the talk shows Live with Regis and Kathie Lee and The Jerry Springer Show.
In its original airing on the Fox Network, the episode had an 8.6 Nielsen rating. In 1999, composer Alf Clausen was nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Music Composition for a Series for his work on the episode.Whistler's Father
"Whistler's Father" is the third episode of the twenty-ninth season of the animated television series The Simpsons, and the 621st episode of the series overall. It aired in the United States on Fox on October 15, 2017.
This is the final episode with a credit to longtime Simpsons score composer Alf Clausen, who was fired from his position shortly before the season began airing.