A scion of the famed Newman family who dominated Hollywood music from 1930s through the 60s, David Newman originally intended to pursue a career as a classical conductor. From his youth, he studied violin and piano and played in community orchestras. After the death of his father, nine-time Oscar-winner Alfred Newman, the younger musician attended USC and began working as a conductor for such renowned orchestras and symphonies as the New Japan Philharmonic, the National Orchestra of Belgium, the Royal Philharmonic and the Los Angeles Philharmonic. He began his film work gradually in the mid-80s with low-budgeters like "Critters" (1986). From 1987 to 1991, he was music director of the Sundance Institute, running workshops for aspiring film composers and conducted concerts of film music in an effort to raise awareness and funds for preservation. In the latter capacity, Newman oversaw the reconstruction of a number of classic scores, including "The Wizard of Oz" and also composed a new accompaniment for F.W. Murnau's 1927 silent classic "Sunrise".