Mario has recently been working with Harry Potter director David Yates on a Warner Bros film starring Margot Robbie, Samuel L. Jackson and Christoph Waltz. Some of his most recognizable film work comes from his long-standing collaboration with director Lee Daniels, scoring Shadowboxer, Tennessee, the Academy Award-winning Precious, and The Paperboy starring Nicole Kidman. Other film scores include the supernatural thriller, Beyond, starring Jon Voight, who went on to say, “Mario is a master at his craft and delivered a score that elevated the movie to another level”. Acclaimed director Susan Seidelman said of Mario’s score for her dramatic romance, Musical Chairs, “Not only is he a brilliant composer and musician, but he is a great collaborative partner, always putting the artistic and emotional needs of the movie first without compromising his own vision.”
Forays into television film work saw the creation of an eerie yet gorgeous score to Lifetime’s Original Movie series cult classic, Flowers in the Attic and sequel Petals on the Wind, starring Heather Graham and Ellen Burstyn.
International scores include Patang by Indian director Prashant Bhargava, The Hopes and Dreams of Gazza Snell by New Zealand director Brendan Donovan, Uruguayan director Leonardo Ricagni’s films 29 Palms, Feathers to the Sky and The Life jacket Is Under Your Seat for which Mario was awarded Best Original Score at the Hamptons Film Festival, and more recently, Our Boys.
Mario’s documentary credits include the festival favorite Third Wave: A Volunteer Story presented by Sean Penn, the Anna Halpern biographical film Breath Made Visible by filmmaker Ruedi Gerber, and the war documentary Taxi to the Dark Side by Alex Gibney, which won a 2008 Academy Award.
Born in Sofia, Bulgaria to a concert trumpeter father and concert pianist mother, Mario was exposed to multiple cultures and musical styles due to his family’s relocation to Iran and then East Germany, where he first listened to Deep Purple, Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin, whose music helped him understand the potential for pure improvisation.
Exposure to popular music with a strong instrumental component had sown the seeds, but it took the city of Vienna, Austria where Mario studied performance and composition at the Vienna Conservatorium, to water them. “There was simply so much music happening there. It was very free and open. For the first time I really began rebelling against the strictures of classical music. I was interested in something that expressed more of my own vision.”
Sydney, Australia was the next stop, where Mario studied electronic music at the New South Wales Conservatorium and went on to become a producer, arranger and programmer for a variety of Australian jazz and rock groups. He soon began to compose musical scores for television shows and films and worked with the BBC on a series of documentaries.
With his film scoring ramping up, Mario moved to Los Angeles under the tutelage of film composer Miles Goodman. Within four days of Mario’s arrival, Warner Brothers Records A&R executive Bob James overheard him deep in a musical trance at a Disklavier piano, accompanying himself on an improvisational journey in a music store. James left with a five-track on-the-spot demo, and Mario inked his first major-label recording contract days later. The result: Rhymes with Orange, Mario’s debut album of astonishing improvisations blending his extensive classical training, the head-banging years of East Germany, and the Bulgarian and Cyrillic folk music he absorbed as a child.
Mario toured Rhymes with Orange, supporting icons such as Wynton Marsalis, Joshua Redman, Charlie Haden and Béla Fleck. Aria came next on Profile Records. Another exercise in stylistic crossovers and combinations, Aria combined Mario’s darker, funkier, ambient side with operatic anthems from Carmen, The Magic Flute, Madame Butterfly and Dido and Aeneas. Aria reached no. 4 on Billboard’s Top Classical Crossover chart. Mario’s playful recording Paris to Cuba (2009) draws from his work in film scoring, combining diverse world music influences.
Mario moved on to New York for 15 years, founding a music production company and expanding into audio branding for major advertising campaigns, before moving to Los Angeles. He later returned to Berlin, Germany and now resides between London and Los Angeles with his family.
In addition to composing and playing piano, Mario indulges in ambidextrous creative outlets such as his simultaneous two-handed symmetrical drawings. He has also developed an experimental type of keyboard play known as Mirror TonesTM, a creative interpretation of the fundamental structure of the piano keyboard.
I have worked and will continue to work with Mario as he adds superb score to my insanity to film making
I've worked with Mario on two films now, and each score he has done for me has been not just a masterpiece, but an innovative and brilliant score that totally supports the films. Mario is an inspired and gifted composer, arranger, and performer; he also loves life and celebrates the human condition…
Mario is a master at his craft and delivered a score that elevated the movie to another level. I will be forever grateful.
I loved working with Mario on Musical Chairs. Not only is he a brilliant composer and musician, but he is a great collaborative partner, always putting the artistic and emotional needs of the movie first without compromising his own vision.
You spend seven years working to get a feature film into production, you want the best people on it: Mario is one of those people. His score elevated the emotion and empathy in my film. But his core talent is his musical skill, and his ability to connect with a picture and find the right musical expression…
A pleasure to work with. Passionate, visionary, and relentless in his pursuit of perfection. His music and composition comes from the heart. One of the few I’ve worked with on our feature, Patang that has elevated the work beyond what I could have imagined. A true artist.
Mario is one of the most versatile and talented composers I've ever come across. His ability to pinpoint just the right emotion in his music is uncanny. His first instinct is often pitch perfect because his instincts are so good. And his sense for the right instrumentation is truly gorgeous.
...the soundtrack, a mix of Mario Grigorov’s original score and potpourri of period tunes, is a small feast.
What sounds like a standard setup for an inspirational, cue the trumpet-fanfare underdog story is given largely a different spin. Buoyed by a terrific and memorable theme by composer Mario Grigorov
Grigorov switched styles as if he were channel-surfing. On three dances, he started with a tango, went into a barely discernible reggae beat that merged into a polka, and finished with another Bulgarian rhythm. His most impassioned moment came on the blues "End of Story," which he delivered with funky…
The Bulgarian born artist is, first of all, an astonishing technician…he played and performed with a subtlety of touch, a delicacy of sound…his interpretations of Caravan, Body and Soul, and Giant Steps were fascinating – indefinable
...he uses his explosive and electrifying virtuosity to stake out his own middle ground between European classical music and American jazz.