Jeff Beal’s enormous contributions to prestige television, cherished comedy series, and award-winning documentary films have earned him 14 Emmy nominations, four statuettes, and the loyalty of top filmmakers for both the big and small screen. His dark, operatic, and richly orchestrated score for the critically-lauded Netflix series House of Cards (starring Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright) has earned him four Emmy nominations and the Best TV Composer of the Year Award at the 2016 World Soundtrack Awards. His third season music recently also won for best series composition. Beal’s diverse voice—informed by his conservatory training and jazz background—has augmented the comedy on the long-running USA series Monk, starring Tony Shalhoub (Beal’s season one theme song earned him his first Primetime Emmy), and on the beloved ABC comedy Ugly Betty. His work has graced the high-end HBO period dramas Carnivàle and Rome (with four Emmy nominations for music between them), the horse-racing drama series Luck (starring Dustin Hoffman), and the final season of Aaron Sorkin’s The Newsroom (starring Jeff Daniels). His ongoing collaboration with Ed Harris has yielded scores for the actor’s directorial efforts with the biopic Pollock and the western Appaloosa. Beal’s empathic music has complemented the real stakes of potent documentary films like Blackfish, Spirit of the Marathon, and The Queen of Versailles. Over the course of his distinguished career, he has collaborated with such established veterans as Al Pacino, Michael Mann, Tom Hanks, Ridley Scott, Aaron Sorkin, David Fincher, Ed Harris, and House of Cards creator Beau Willimon. Beal’s latest work includes the CBS miniseries The Dovekeepers—earning him yet another Emmy nomination, the newest installment in the popular Jesse Stone TV movie series, starring Tom Selleck, the highly acclaimed documentary Weiner which was showcased at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival, the dramatic comedy feature The Sweet Life starring Abigail Spencer and Chris Messina and Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power which premiered at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival. Jeff’s upcoming work includes Shock and Awe directed by Rob Reiner starring Jessica Biel and Woody Harrelson, and Jon Dunham’s documentary feature Boston about the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing.
Beal grew up near San Francisco, and immediately took to the trumpet and jazz music. He started composing in his teens, and pursued mastery of his instrument and writing craft at the Eastman School of Music in New York. He soon found the perfect home for his gifts in the arena of film and television, and had his first breakouts with Pollock and the Monk series. In addition to his screen music, Beal has written prodigiously for the concert hall, and his works have been performed by top-tier symphony orchestras and chorales around the world. He and his wife, Joan, recently paid their success forward by committing $2 million to the creation of The Beal Institute for Film Music and Contemporary Media at Eastman.
“With film music,” Beal says, “so much of what we do is taking place in the subliminal, covert, emotive, dramatic space. I’m always trying to find that magic where the music has a life and a personality enough so that it’s doing something, but also empathetic enough to the scene so that it doesn’t kill it—and actually works with it in a way that magnifies everything else.”