Composer David Schwartz has helped define quirky television on both sides of the 21st century. He struck comedy gold with the cult Fox series Arrested Development with regular collaborator Mitchell Hurwitz, where—from the opening strains of his ukulele swing theme song—Schwartz contributed score and songs that were both funny and mock-serious, jumping from genre to genre and providing an essential (and Emmy-nominated) layer to the show’s eccentric charm. He returned for the resurrected fourth season on Netflix, and will be collaborating with Pam Brady & Hurwitz again on the new Netflix original series, Lady Dynamite, starring Maria Bamford. Schwartz recently completed two comedies on NBC: The Good Place starring Kristen Bell and Better Late Than Never starring George Foreman and William Shatner. Schwartz’s dusty, fiddled main title theme song for the lauded HBO drama Deadwood invited audiences into the criminal world of the old west every week, and was recognized with an Emmy nomination. Previously, his chameleonic music for the beloved, Emmy-winning CBS series Northern Exposure set the peculiar tone of the show for all six seasons, as both underscore and songs emitting from the on-screen jukebox. (His theme song for the show was nominated for a Grammy.) His film work includes Alex Gibney’s Sundance hit Gonzo; The Life & Work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson. In addition to these iconic works, Schwartz has lent his unique voice to everything from Reaper to Benched to the Lennon-McCartney themed VH1 movie, Two of Us. His theme song for the CBS horror series Wolf Lake was nominated for an Emmy.
Schwartz, who grew up in NY, has been playing music across genres most of his life. He studied at the School of Visual Arts (NY), and Berklee College of Music, and during college he played bass in a wide variety of Orchestras, ensembles and bands. He quickly began engineering and producing music—and his quirky, multi-instrumental, and song-oriented background prepared him perfectly for his first big writing assignment when he landed Northern Exposure. “When I’m composing for comedies, I never think, ‘Oh boy, ‘let’s make this funny music,’” explains Schwartz. “But I always try and make things fun.” He is just as excited about music now, as he was when he started playing in bands. He adds, “I come from a family of visual artists and when I discovered film/tv composing, it immediately felt like the right fit, where I could combine music with visual storytelling. I like to get inside the filmmaker’s head and figure out how to best support the emotions of the story with music.”