Jon Burlingame is the nation’s leading writer on the subject of music for films and television.
He writes regularly for Variety and, over the past 30 years, has also written on the topic for such leading newspapers as The New York Times, Los Angeles Times and the Washington Post; and such magazines as Premiere, Emmy and The Hollywood Reporter.
He is the author of five books: the new Music for Prime Time (Oxford University Press, 2023), a history of American television themes and scoring; the award-winning, best-selling The Music of James Bond (Oxford University Press, 2012); the film-composer encyclopedia Sound and Vision: 60 Years of Motion Picture Soundtracks (Billboard Books, 2000); the television-music history TV’s Biggest Hits (Schirmer Books, 1996); and the Hollywood studio-musician chronicle For the Record (Recording Musicians Association, 1997). He is also the co-author, with UK writers Geoff Leonard and Pete Walker, of Music by John Barry (Windmill Books, 2021), a comprehensive look at more than 40 scores by the distinguished British composer. He is also the host of For Scores, a monthly podcast devoted to interviews with film and TV composers.
Burlingame has twice won ASCAP’s Deems Taylor Award for outstanding music journalism: in 2013, for The Music of James Bond, and in 2021, for his detailed essay in Quartet Records’ expanded Midnight Cowboy soundtrack album. In 2014, he received another industry honor, BMI’s Special Citation of Appreciation (“for being a sincere and respected champion to so many in the film and television music community”).
He has contributed chapters to other books, including one on Leonard Bernstein in On the Waterfront (Cambridge University Press, 2003), on John Williams in Boston Pops: America’s Orchestra (2000) and on Elmer Bernstein in Moving Music: Conversations With Renowned Film Composers (2003). He wrote the chapter on Marvel movie music in Marvel: Universe of Super Heroes (2019); he also penned the foreword to Television Westerns (2011). He is a frequent contributor of program notes for film-music concerts (from the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles to New York’s Carnegie Hall and London’s Royal Albert Hall).
For more than 25 years, Burlingame has taught film-music history courses at the University of Southern California’s Thornton School of Music. He has lectured on film and TV music over the past 30 years at locations around the world.
He has also served as host for programs of film music and television music, including evenings at the San Francisco Symphony and the American Youth Symphony; participated in on-stage discussions at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., and the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles; and hosted evenings devoted to film and TV music for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences in Beverly Hills and the Television Academy in North Hollywood, Calif.
Burlingame has made appearances on, or contributed music commentaries to, numerous classic-film DVDs and Blu-Rays including On the Waterfront, King Kong, The Magnificent Seven, The Pink Panther, How the West Was Won, In the Heat of the Night, The Graduate and many others. He has also penned the liner notes to dozens of soundtrack albums.
His television and radio appearances have included NBC, CBS, CNN, MSNBC, BBC, NPR, A&E and Bravo. He also wrote the five-part series on movie music, The Score, produced and hosted by the legendary Phil Ramone for the Trio cable network. And he can often be seen on the red carpet, interviewing music luminaries at events in Hollywood and elsewhere.
As a producer, Burlingame is responsible for four volumes of music from the classic spy series The Man From U.N.C.L.E.; another of music from Dr. Kildare (both on the Film Score Monthly label); an award-winning 6-CD box set of music from Mission: Impossible, and a 4-CD box set of music from TV’s The Wild Wild West (both sets on La-La Land Records). More recently, he’s been responsible for a series of albums of music from Quinn Martin television shows of the 1960s and ’70s. He has also written, produced and hosted a series of radio specials on great film composers for Classical KUSC in Los Angeles; and has produced a series of short YouTube videos on film music.
He began his career as a reporter and critic for daily newspapers in upstate New York. He moved in 1986 to Los Angeles, where he now lives with his wife, producer and music historian Marilee Bradford (and their two dogs, Petra and Augie).