Alan Silvestri started out doing TV work for the Series "CHIPS" and low-budget films. There is also reference to a "Wayne Cochran's Band" which presumably Silvestri played in at one time. He made the move to the larger Hollywood movies with Director Robert Zemeckis on "Romancing the Stone" and the hugely successful "Back to the Future" trilogy. Silvestri created a suberb set of themes and motifs for the original "Back to the Future" which were then re-used throughout the series, with the 3rd movie unleashing great musical tributes to the Western genre. Silvestri has continued his association with Zemeckis over the years and also produced a substantial quantity of scores for other directors. Perhaps having heard his excellent work for "Back to the Future III" with its occasional nod towards Ennio Morricone's western style, Sam Raimi chose Silvestri for his own "The Quick and the Dead" which pays a large homage to the movies of Sergio Leone.
Like many contemporary film composers Silvestri tends to re-use soundscapes from previous films, which then become identifiable as the composer's trademarks. Also like many other composers of today, he has scored the full range of genres from science fiction through to fast-paced thrillers. In Silvestri's case there have been a significant number of family movies, several including some kind of animation or specialist CGI effects. In fact animation is something he scored brilliantly in "Who Framed Roger Rabbit" in the style established by the former Disney composers, Carl Stalling who went on to score most of the Warner Brothers cartoons and Scott Bradley who became the resident composer for Tom and Jerry. Although the cartoon music for Roger Rabbit is great the two Ducks, Daffy and Donald, in their routine to Liszt's "Hungarian Rhapsody No.2" couldn't quite compete with Tom and Jerry in the original "Cat Concerto" story with the same music arranged by Bradley. Silvestri's contribution to the Roger Rabbit score was not only the authentic cartoonesque music for Roger's capers, but also the nicely contrasting slinky jazz for his girl friend Jessica and the film-noir jazz for Bob Hoskin's private detective.
Silvestri has then gone from strength to strength with some major and sometimes ground-breaking movies. There was "Predator" which set set the scene for one of today's most-recognised movie aliens. There was then the underwater close encounter with strange aliens in The Abyss with a score which plays to the human story in addition the magical aspects of the aliens' powers. Silvestri then scored "Forrest Gump" and, though his music took second place on the soundtrack album to all those classic popular tracks, his music effortlessly captured the essence of the lead character with the "feather theme" (though only in the opening and closing titles) and helped to sell the movie in the popular consciousness. And there has been a string of interesting scores since then including "The Long Kiss Goodnight", "Contact", "Super Mario Brothers" and "The Quick and the Dead".
Silvestri has continued his career with family films such as the "Stuart Little" films and the excellent songs from "Polar Express". There has been the occasional romantic comedy such as "Main in Manhattan" and the fun "Night at the Musem" films. Darker films have included "The Mummy Returns", "Van Helsing" and the Zemeckis film Beowulf, while the composer has retained a thematic relationship with the ongoing "Predator" films including "AVPR: Aliens vs Predator - Requiem" scored by Brian Tyler and "Predators" scored by John Debney. He has returned to musicals with Zemeckis' version of "A Christmas Carol" and has recently completed the re-imaging of "The A-Team" complete with the original TV theme by Mike Post and Pete Carpenter.
Captain America: The First Avenger see Alan Silvestri on top form, delivering a score that is nostalgic and heroic with great action music, and a main theme which is only hinted at until the hero is fully transformed into the first avenger. The soundtrack gets some help from Sousa, Wagner and Alan Menken.
Even if you go no further, check out the CDs of "Back to the Future" (which includes the well-known song "The Power of Love" by Huey Lewis and the News) and "Forrest Gump" (for which Silvestri was Oscar nominated). There is a comprehensive web-site dedicated to Silvestri at Alan-Silvestri.com
Here are some CD covers signed by Alan Silvestri. Our thanks to Petr Kocanda for permission to use his collection of autographed CDs. Click any thumbnail below to see the image full size in a separate window.