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In the booklet for the first volume of Music for a Darkened Theatre Elfman described the first time he heard his music played by a full orchestra as one of the most thrilling experiences of his life. My attitude is always to be critical of what's around you but not ever to forget how lucky we are. Elfman was apprehensive at first because of his lack of formal training but with orchestration assistance from Oingo Boingo guitarist and arranger Steve Bartek he achieved his goal of emulating the mood of such composers as Nino Rota and Bernard Herrmann.
He has since been nominated for four Academy Awards and won a Grammy Award for Best Instrumental Composition Written for a Motion Picture Television or Other Visual Media for Tim Burton's Batman and an Emmy Award for his Desperate Housewives theme. Born in Los Angeles he entered the film industry in 1976 initially as an actor.