Versatile musician Mark Isham is both a Grammy award-winning recording artist and one of the most noteworthy film composers of the 1980s and beyond. Born in New York to a violinist and a music teacher, Isham studied trumpet, violin, and piano as a child, and began his professional career as a classical and jazz trumpeter in California. Adding synthesizers to his repertoire, he worked as a jazz, rock, and New Age musician throughout the 1980s and 1990s, winning a Grammy award for his 1990 CD Mark Isham.
Isham began his parallel career as a film composer in the 1980s, providing the scores for the Arctic adventure Never Cry Wolf (1983) and the Mel Gibson-Diane Keaton period romance Mrs. Soffel (1984). Forging a fruitful collaboration with iconoclastic director Alan Rudolph, Isham scored Trouble in Mind (1985), Mortal Thoughts (1991), Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle (1994), Afterglow (1997), and won the Los Angeles Film Critics prize for The Moderns (1988). Named one of the top composers of the 1980s by the AFI, the composer's film career continued to surge in the 1990s. Drawing on his varied background for an eclectic range of films, Isham scored such critical hits as Reversal of Fortune (1990), Robert Altman's Raymond Carver interpretation Short Cuts (1993), and Robert Redford's Quiz Show (1994), as well as more mainstream box-office fare, including Timecop (1994), Kiss the Girls (1997), Blade (1998), and Varsity Blues (1999). Isham received an Oscar nomination for Redford's A River Runs Through It (1992) and a Golden Globe nod for Nell (1994). Adding TV to his résumé, he provided the music for CBS' hospital drama Chicago Hope and won an Emmy in 1997 for his theme to E Z Streets.