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Daniel Licht, ‘Dexter,’ ‘Children of the Corn’ Composer, Dies at 60

Daniel Licht, composer for TV’s “Dexter,” died of cancer late Wednesday. He was 60.

Licht scored all eight seasons of “Dexter,” the Showtime serial-killer drama, from 2006 to 2013. Although he also wrote music for movies and other TV projects, it was his quirky music for “Dexter” – employing unusual sounds using bones, knives, scissors, duct tape, wine glasses, didgeridoo, Irish harp and other instruments – that became his best-known work.

Seven albums of “Dexter” music, all featuring his scores, were released. Licht himself played many of the percussion instruments in a 10-minute orchestral suite of “Dexter” music performed live at Poland’s Krakow Film Music Festival in 2015.

Said “Dexter” executive producer Clyde Phillips: “Dan was an incredibly talented musician and composer, but most of all, he was a dear friend. His passing leaves all of us a bit quieter, a bit sadder, and without the gift of his music and his love.”

Many of Licht’s scores were in the horror genre, including two installments in the “Children of the Corn” series, two “Amityville” movies, Clive Barker’s “Hellraiser: Bloodline” and the Stephen King thriller “Thinner,” all in the 1990s. But he also scored NBC’s 1998 adaptation of Aldous Huxley’s “Brave New World,” Showtime’s 2000 Jimi Hendrix biopic “Hendrix,” and Hallmark’s 2004 adventure miniseries “King Solomon’s Mines.”

He also scored a number of indie and festival favorites including Alex Cox’s “The Winner,” Gregg Araki’s “Splendor” and Xavier Koller’s “Cowboy Up.

Licht composed music for a number of other TV series including Fox’s “Oliver Beene” and “Kitchen Confidential”; ABC’s “Jake in Progress,” “Cashmere Mafia,” “Body of Proof”; NBC’s “Deception’; Sundance’s “The Red Road”; and Freeform’s “Guilt.” His TV-movie “Tiny House of Terror” recently debuted on Lifetime.

He had also branched out into the videogame arena, scoring two in the “Silent Hill” PlayStation series (“Downpour” and “Book of Memories”) and the first two games in the “Dishonored” series.

He won six BMI TV music awards, all for “Dexter” and “Body of Proof.”

Licht was born in Detroit, played clarinet and guitar as a youth, and graduated from Hampshire College in Massachusetts, studying jazz, world music and composition. He moved to New York City, where he played jazz with Don Cherry and David Amram and began working in music for commercials.

He also traveled to the Far East, studying gamelan music on the islands of Java and Bali. At the urging of his friend and college classmate Christopher Young, he moved to Los Angeles in the 1980s, initially programming and performing on synthesizers for Young’s film scores and eventually launching his own career as a film composer.

He is survived by his wife Hilary Kimblin Licht; a son, Kian; his mother, two brothers, a sister and several nieces and nephews. A memorial service is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Aug. 18 at Theatricum Botanicum in Topanga, Calif. The family has requested that donations in his name be made to Hampshire College or the National Cancer Institute.

 

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