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Maurice Jarre

Maurice Jarre
Background information
Birth name Maurice-Alexis Jarre
Born (1924-09-13)13 September 1924
Lyon, France
Died 28 March 2009(2009-03-28) (aged 84)
Malibu, California, United States
Occupation(s) Composer, conductor
Years active 1958–2001

Maurice-Alexis Jarre (13 September 1924 – 28 March 2009)[1][2][3] was a French composer and conductor, "one of the giants of 20th century film music"[4] who was "among the most sought-after composers in the movie industry" and "a creator of both subtle underscoring and grand, sweeping themes, not only writing for conventional orchestras... but also experimenting with electronic sounds later in his career."[5]

Although he composed several concert works, Jarre is best known for his film scores, particularly for his collaborations with film director David Lean. Jarre composed the scores to all of Lean's films from Lawrence of Arabia (1962) on. Notable scores for other directors include The Train (1964), Mohammad, Messenger of God (1976), Lion of the Desert (1981), Witness (1985) and Ghost (1990).

Jarre was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.[6] Three of his compositions spent a total of 42 weeks on the UK singles chart; the biggest hit was "Somewhere My Love" (to his tune "Lara's Theme", with lyrics by Paul Francis Webster) by the Mike Sammes Singers, which reached Number 14 in 1966 and spent 38 weeks on the chart.

Jarre was nominated for nine Academy Awards, winning three in the Best Original Score category for Lawrence of Arabia (1962), Doctor Zhivago (1965), and A Passage to India (1984), all of which were directed by David Lean. He also won four Golden Globes, two BAFTA Awards, and a Grammy Award.


  • Early life 1
  • Film scoring 2
  • Music style 3
  • Awards 4
  • Family 5
  • Death 6
  • Selected filmography and awards 7
  • See also 8
  • References 9
  • External links 10

Early life

Jarre was born in Lyon, France, in 1924, the son of Gabrielle Renée (née Boullu) and André Jarre, a radio technical director.[7] He first enrolled in the engineering school at the Sorbonne, but decided to pursue music courses instead. He left the Sorbonne against his father's will and enrolled at the Conservatoire de Paris to study composition and harmony and chose percussion as his major instrument.[3] He became director of the Théâtre National Populaire and recorded his first film score in France in 1951.[8]

Film scoring

In 1961 Jarre's music career experienced a major change when British film producer Sam Spiegel asked him to write the score for the 1962 epic Lawrence of Arabia, directed by David Lean.[9] The acclaimed score won Jarre his first Academy Award and he would go on to compose the scores to all of Lean's subsequent films. He followed with The Train (1964) and Grand Prix (1966), both for director John Frankenheimer, and in between had another great success in David Lean's Doctor Zhivago, which included the lyricless tune "Lara's Theme" (later the tune for the song "Somewhere My Love"), and which earned him his second Oscar. He worked with Alfred Hitchcock on Topaz (1969); though Hitchcock's experiences on the film were unhappy, he was satisfied with Jarre's score, telling him "I have not given you a great film, but you have given me a great score." His score for David Lean's Ryan's Daughter (1970), set in Ireland, completely eschews traditional Irish music styles, owing to Lean's preferences. The song "It was a Good Time," from Ryan's Daughter went on to be recorded by musical stars such as Liza Minnelli who used it in her critically acclaimed television special Liza with a Z as well as by others during the 1970s. He contributed the music for Luchino Visconti's The Damned (1969), and John Huston's The Man Who Would Be King (1975).

He was again nominated for an Academy Award for scoring The Message in 1976 for the director and producer Moustapha Akkad. He followed with Witness (1985) and Dead Poets Society (1989), for which he won a British Academy Award.

In the 1970s and 1980s, Jarre turned his hand to science fiction, with scores for digeridoo, fujara, a battery of exotic percussion, and three ondes Martenot, which feature in several of Jarre's other scores, including Lawrence of Arabia, Jesus of Nazareth, The Bride and Prancer. The balalaika features prominently in Jarre's score for Doctor Zhivago.

In 1990 Jarre was again nominated for an Academy Award scoring the supernatural love story/thriller Ghost. His music for the final scene of the film is based on "Unchained Melody" composed by fellow film composer Alex North.[3] Other films for which he provided the music include his passionate love theme from Fatal Attraction (1987), and the moody electronic soundscapes of After Dark, My Sweet (1990). He was well respected by other composers including John Williams, who stated on Jarre's death, "(He) is to be well remembered for his lasting contribution to film music...we all have been enriched by his legacy."[10]

Jarre's television work includes the score for the miniseries Jesus of Nazareth (1977), directed by Franco Zeffirelli, Shōgun (1980), and the theme for PBS's Great Performances.[3]

Jarre scored his last film in 2001, a television film about the Holocaust entitled Uprising.[3]

Music style

Jarre wrote mainly for orchestras, but began to favour synthesized music in the 1980s. Jarre pointed out that his electronic score for Witness was actually more laborious, time-consuming and expensive to produce than an orchestral score. Jarre's electronic scores from the 80s also include Fatal Attraction, The Year of Living Dangerously, Firefox and No Way Out. A number of his scores from that era also feature electronic / acoustic blends, such as Gorillas in the Mist, Dead Poets Society, The Mosquito Coast and Jacob's Ladder.


Jarre received three Academy Awards and received a total of nine nominations, eight for Best Original Score and one for Best Original Song. He also won three Golden Globes and was nominated for ten.

The American Film Institute ranked Jarre's score for Lawrence of Arabia #3 on their list of the greatest film scores. His scores for the following films were also nominated for the list:

Numerous additional awards include ASCAP's Lifetime Achievement Award in 1993.[11]


Jarre was married four times, the first three marriages ending in divorce. His marriage to Francette Pejot (in the 1940s, after World War II), produced a son, Jean Michel Jarre, a French composer who is one of the pioneers in electronic music. In 1965, he married French actress Dany Saval. Together they had a daughter, Stephanie Jarre. Jarre next married American actress Laura Devon (1967–1984), resulting in him adopting her son, Kevin Jarre, a screenwriter, with credits on such films as Tombstone and Glory. From 1984 to his death[12] he was married to Fong F. Khong (1984–2009).


Maurice Jarre died on 28 March 2009 after a battle with cancer.[13]

Selected filmography and awards

Year Title Notes
1958 Head Against the Wall
1959 Eyes Without a Face
1960 Crack in the Mirror
1962 Lawrence of Arabia Academy Award for Best Original Score
Nominated - Golden Globe Award for Best Original Score
The Longest Day
1963 Sundays and Cybele Nominated - Academy Award for Best Music, Scoring of Music, Adaptation or Treatment
A King Without Distraction
1964 Behold a Pale Horse
The Train
1965 The Collector
Doctor Zhivago Academy Award for Best Original Score
Golden Globe Award for Best Original Score
Grammy Award for Best Score Soundtrack Album for a Motion Picture, Television or Other Visual Media (1967)
1966 Is Paris Burning? Nominated - Golden Globe Award for Best Original Score
Grand Prix
The Professionals
1967 The Night of the Generals
1968 Barbarella
Villa Rides
5 Card Stud
The Fixer
1969 The Extraordinary Seaman
The Damned
1970 The Only Game in Town
El Condor
Ryan's Daughter
1971 Plaza Suite
Red Sun
1972 Pope Joan
The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean Nominated - Academy Award for Best Original Song ("Marmalade, Molasses & Honey")
The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds
1973 Ash Wednesday
The Mackintosh Man
1974 The Island at the Top of the World
Great Expectations
1975 The Man Who Would Be King Nominated - Golden Globe Award for Best Original Score
1976 Shout at the Devil
The Last Tycoon
1977 Mohammad, Messenger of God Nominated - Academy Award for Best Original Score
Jesus of Nazareth
Crossed Swords
March or Die
1979 The Magician of Lublin
The Tin Drum
Winter Kills
1980 The Last Flight of Noah's Ark
The Black Marble
1981 Lion of the Desert
1982 Firefox
Young Doctors in Love
The Year of Living Dangerously
1984 A Passage to India Academy Award for Best Original Score
Golden Globe Award for Best Original Score
Top Secret!
1985 Witness Nominated - Academy Award for Best Original Score
Nominated - Golden Globe Award for Best Original Score
Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome
Enemy Mine
1986 The Mosquito Coast Golden Globe Award for Best Original Score
1987 No Way Out
Fatal Attraction
Gaby: A True Story
Gorillas in the Mist: The Story of Dian Fossey Golden Globe Award for Best Original Score
Nominated - Academy Award for Best Original Score
1989 Chances Are
Dead Poets Society BAFTA Award for Best Film Music
1990 Ghost Nominated - Academy Award for Best Original Score
Jacob's Ladder
Almost an Angel
Solar Crisis
1991 Only the Lonely
Fires Within
1992 School Ties
1993 Fearless
Mr. Jones
1994 The River Wild Unused music for the main title sequence, Jarre was replaced by Jerry Goldsmith
1995 A Walk in the Clouds Golden Globe Award for Best Original Score
1996 The Sunchaser
1999 Sunshine Nominated - Golden Globe Award for Best Original Score
2000 I Dreamed of Africa
2001 Uprising Television film

See also


  1. ^ McLellan, Dennis (March 31, 2009). "'"Maurice Jarre dies at 84; composer for 'Lawrence of Arabia.  
  2. ^ Weber, Bruce (March 31, 2009). "Maurice Jarre, Hollywood Composer, Dies at 84".  
  3. ^ a b c d e allmusic Biography
  4. ^ McLellan, Dennis (March 31, 2009). "'"Maurice Jarre dies at 84; composer for 'Lawrence of Arabia. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved December 26, 2014. 
  5. ^ Weber, Bruce (March 31, 2009). "Maurice Jarre, Hollywood Composer, Dies at 84". The New York Times. Retrieved December 26, 2014. 
  6. ^ Maurice Jarre (I) - Biography
  7. ^ "Maurice Jarre at". Retrieved 2012-07-22. 
  8. ^ "Maurice Jarre: Information and Much More from". Retrieved 2012-07-22. 
  9. ^ Leydon, Joe (2009-03-30). ", March 30, 2009". Retrieved 2012-07-22. 
  10. ^ Award Winning Musical Film Composer Maurice Jarre Dies From Cancer At 84
  11. ^ "Maurice Jarre - Awards"., Inc. Retrieved 21 September 2012. 
  12. ^ "Oscar-winning movie legend Maurice Jarre dies". March 31, 2009. Retrieved 2012-07-22. 
  13. ^ Corliss, Richard (2009-03-30). "Obituary at". Retrieved 2012-07-22. 

External links

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