An exclusive report by Variety’s Jon Burlingame revealed that the longtime composer of The Simpsons, Alf Clausen, has been fired. Clausen told Variety that he received a phone call from the one of the show’s producers, Richard Sakai, to inform him that he would no longer score the music for the long-running animated hit.
Clausen also said that he was told that the company was looking for a “different kind of music” for the show, which has been on the air since 1989. Despite this change, Danny Elfman’s Simpsons theme, which plays during the opening sequence of the show, is expected to be retained. A spokeswoman for FOX, the network The Simpsons airs on, declined to comment when asked about the situation.
Alf Clausen has been composing music for the show almost as long as it has been on the air, as he started the job early on during Season 2, which took place in 1990-91. In total, he has been credited with scoring the music for more than 560 episodes in the series. His last complete score for the series took place during the May finale of Season 28.
The premiere of Season 29 is slated for October 1, and it will feature 22 new episodes in total. However, it is unclear who will be scoring that opening episode or if Clausen has already scored any episodes for the upcoming season.
During his 27-year run providing the music for one of the world’s most iconic television families, Clausen has grown in stature to become one of the most respected creators of animation music in the history of television. He has won two Primetime Emmys for his work on the show, sharing the Emmy for Outstanding Original Music and Lyrics in 1997 and 1998 with lyricist Ken Keeler.
Clausen is also thought to be the most-nominated musician in the history of the Emmys, as he has been nominated 30 different times over the years. In addition, he has also won five Annie Awards (97, 98, 00, 04, 08) and been nominated for two more, all for his musical work on The Simpsons.
Naturally, some people have been speculating that the composer’s firing has to do with cutting costs associated with producing the show. Clausen used a 35-piece orchestra each week to produce the music for the show, which regularly cost millions of dollars each year. Clausen confirmed on social media that the orchestra has also been fired.
They have sadly been let go as well...— Alf Clausen (@TheAlfClausen) August 31, 2017
The use of such a large orchestra was something Matt Groening, who created the show, required since the inception of The Simpsons. In fact, the music of the show and Clausen’s work was so important to Groening that he often referred to the composer as the show’s “secret weapon.” Many on social media, from fans to others in the industry, expressed sadness over Clausen’departurere.
Alf Clausen is one of THE most respected composers in Los Angeles, and one of the few "old souls" who can handle super traditional writing— Austin Wintory (@awintory) August 30, 2017
Sad news of Alf Clausen. He reinvented the sound of prime-time animation. I hope The Simpsons keeps the orchestra. Big part of a great show.— Seth MacFarlane (@SethMacFarlane) August 31, 2017
Alf Clausen is as important to that show as some cast members, so the decision, like the daily decision to let the show live, is appalling.— Kaleb Horton (@kalebhorton) August 30, 2017
I have been watching #TheSimpsons from the beginning, but after firing the best part of your show,Alf Clausen, I truly have no reason. ????????????????— Nerdy Chick (@Larab83) August 31, 2017
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