Composer Daniel Licht, best known for scoring the Showtime series Dexter, as well as video games Silent Hill and Dishonored, died Aug. 2 from a rare form of sarcoma.
Licht, 60, who easily segued between television and film and between drama and comedy, also composed music for ABC’s Body of Proof, NBC’s Deception and Sundance’s The Red Road. He also provided additional music NBC series, The Blacklist.
“I am so saddened to learn of Dan’s passing. His music quite literally set the tone for Dexter,” Dexter star Michael C. Hall tells Billboard. “I’m fortunate to have known Dan, as his talent was matched by his kindness.”
Among the films Licht scored are Stephen King’s thriller Thinner and Ben Stiller drama Permanent Midnight.
Modern Family producer Jeff Morton worked with Licht on a number of comedy series, starting with Fox’s Oliver Beene, and including ABC’s Jake in Progress, Fox’s Kitchen Confidential and, most recently, ABC’s Don’t Trust The B in Apt. 23. He was impressed with Licht’s ability to pivot to comedy.
“Much of Dan’s work was in drama and horror which probably made him an odd choice for our comedy series,” Morton tells Billboard. “A friend introduced me to his music, and I fell in love with his writing. If you can write like that, we figured he could do anything. There was a steep learning curve with new rhythms and timing, but Dan never gave up on anything. He was a relentless artist who kept going and going and going until the filmmakers and he felt we got it right. Comedy would not defeat him. He became so good at it, it was almost shocking to hear Dexter come out of him after his work with us.”
Most recently he scored Tiny House of Terror, which aired on Lifetime in July. Below is Licht’s performance of the Dexter suite with an orchestra at the Krakow Film Music Festival in 2015.
Before Hollywood beckoned, the Detroit native played jazz in New York with Don Cherry. His adventurous travel streak informed his work. Licht composed music for theater and dance companies in Germany, Holland and Northern Europe, as well as participated in Gamelan orchestras in Indonesia. The willingness to experiment beyond traditional instrumentation showed up in his scores, as Licht often used knives, duct tape, saws and scissors to craft the perfect sound.
It was that creativity that made Licht so good at his craft, says Seth Kaplan — his long-time agent, along with Christine Russell, at Evolution Music Partners. “Dan was a beautiful, sharp, inventive and witty human being. All of those qualities were immediately apparent in his truly memorable music,” Kaplan says. “His themes will continue to live both on screen and inside so many of us who have been touched by them. It’s a heartbreaking loss. He had so much more to do.”
Survivors include Licht’s wife, Hilary Kimblin Licht, and son Kian Kimblin Licht, his mother, three siblings and several nieces and nephews.
A memorial service for Licht will be held Aug. 18 at 6:30 at Theatricum Botanicum in Topanga, Calif. Donations may be made to the National Cancer Institute or his alma mater, Hampshire College.