For every person I've ever spoken with that has played any of the Final Fantasy series, one of the things that has always come across as being a favorite has been the soundtrack. Nobuo Uematsu has been responsible for creating the music for all the American released Final Fantasies, Chrono Trigger, Mario RPG, and the Squaresoft combat game, Ergheiz.
The wholescale musical talent of this man is enormous. For Final Fantasy VII alone, he wrote four CDs full of music. And not only is the music he writes terrific to listen to, its even better to have as wallpaper music, providing with very few loud, interruptive points of the music.
Uematsu was born in 1959 near Kouchi City, Japan. At the age of 22, he graduated from the Univeristy of Kanagawa. Three years later, he received a phone call from a friend working at a new fledgling company known as Squaresoft, and was asked if he'd like to write music for one of their video games.
His themes for the characters of Final Fantasy VII stick out paricularly in my mind as being top notch. Nobuo really knows how to build an atmosphere, and gives excellent emotion to his music.