Composer Walter Murphy has been presented with the International Film Music Critics Association Award for Best Comedy Score in 2012, for his score for Ted, by IFMCA members Jon Broxton and Oscar Flores.
This is Murphy’s first nomination and first win. The other nominees in the comedy category were Moonrise Kingdom by Alexandre Desplat, Salmon Fishing in the Yemen by Dario Marianelli, The Sessions by Marco Beltrami, and Silver Linings Playbook by Danny Elfman.
Ted is a raucous, raunchy comedy directed by Seth MacFarlane and starring Mark Wahlberg and Mila Kunis about a young boy named John who makes a wish upon a star for his favorite teddy bear to come to life. Astonishingly, the bear does come to life, initiating a lifelong friendship between the unlikely pair… but flash forward 20 years and John still lives with Ted, who is no longer a cute child’s toy, but is a wisecracking, pot-smoking, sex-obsessed burden, much to the chagrin of John’s long-suffering girlfriend Lori.
Murphy’s music plays the comedy straight as an arrow with a fully orchestral and strongly thematic score, giving the relationship between John and Ted a jazzy, breezy, upbeat feeling, adding a touch of magic to the innocence that brought Ted to life, and giving the film’s second half some dramatic power through a series of exciting John Williams-esque action music. The main theme is also the basis of the Oscar-nominated song “Everybody Needs a Best Friend”, which was written by Murphy and MacFarlane, and performed by Norah Jones.
New York-born Murphy studied at the Manhattan School of Music, and began his career writing advertising jingles and jazz arrangements for Doc Severinsen of The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, before rising to fame as the composer of the smash hit disco piece “A Fifth of Beethoven” – a reworked version of Beethoven’s Symphony No.5 in C Minor – which was a number one chart hit in October 1976, and featured on the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack.
Following this early success, Murphy quickly established himself as a major TV composer, working on shows such as Stingray, Wiseguy, Hunter, The Commish and Buffy the Vampire Slayer throughout the 1980s and 1990s. In recent years Murphy has found himself specializing in animation scoring, most notably for Seth MacFarlane’s trio of shows on the Fox network – Family Guy, American Dad and The Cleveland Show – for which he has received four Emmy nominations, winning in 2002.
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Photos by Holly McQuillan