Alf Clausen Biography, Age, Career, The Simpsons, Songs and Movies

Last Updated on August 7, 2022 by Administrator

Alf Clausen Biography

Alf Clausen born Alf Heiberg Clausen 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.

Alf Clausen

Alf Clausen Age

Alf was born on 28 March 1941, Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States.

Alf Clausen Image

Alf Clausen Image

Alf Clausen Wife

He is married to Sally Clausen.

Alf Clausen Career

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).

Alf Clausen The Land Of Chocolate

Artist: The simpsons
Released: 1999
TV Show: The Simpsons

Alf Clausen The Simpsons

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: “The greatest composing challenge has been to try to make some kind of musical sense out of the cues when I have only a few seconds to make a musical statement. We have a joke on the scoring stage that I can make you feel five ways in thirteen seconds. We say it in jest, but the reality of the situation is that I am required to do just that quite often.” 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”.

Alf Clausen Songs

The Land of Chocolate


The Simpsons

Alf Clausen Dead or Alive

Alf Clausen is still alive.

Alf Clausen Moonlighting

He was previously the music director for Moonlighting.

Alf Clausen La Vie En Rose

Complete list of  Clausen music featured in tv shows and movies. See scene descriptions and  Original composition in the style of La Vie En Rose

Alf Clausen Tree House of Horror

“Treehouse of Horror” is the third episode of The Simpsons’ second season. It originally aired on the Fox network in the United States on October 25, 1990. The episode was inspired by 1950s horror comics, and begins with a disclaimer that it may be too scary for children. It is the first Treehouse of Horror episode. These episodes do not obey the show’s rule of realism and are not treated as canon. The opening disclaimer and a panning shot through a cemetery with humorous tombstones were features that were used sporadically in the Treehouse of Horror series and eventually dropped. This is also the first episode to have the music composed by Alf Clausen, taking over for Danny Elfman who also wrote the show’s theme.

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