Au revoir, Maurice Jarre

One could say my life itself has been one long soundtrack. Music was my life, music brought me to life, and music is how I will be remembered long after I leave this life. When I die there will be a final waltz playing in my head that only I can hear — Maurice Jarre

Maurice Jarre, who died yesterday, was one of the great composers of film music, a man whose work lives in your mind even if you’ve never heard of him. He was French, born in 1924, and turned to film after several years as director of the Théâtre National Populaire.

Like many film composers, his best work came from close collaborations with directors, working on a number of their films. The first of these was Georges Franju, whose strange unsettling movies gain much of their power from Jarre’s work, particularly his masterpiece, Eyes Without a FaceBut his most famous collaboration, of course, was with David Lean, scoring Dr Zhivago, Ryan’s Daughter, A Passage to India and Lawrence of Arabia. Jarre’s music set the tone for Lean’s great epics, the scale of his melodies matching Lean’s ambition — and vanity.

Later in his life he found another close collaboration, this time with the brilliant Peter Weir, working on The Year of Living Dangerously, Witness, The Mosquito Coast, Dead Poets Society and Fearless. He also continued to experiment with different styles of orchestration, both traditional and electronic, in scores as varied as Jacob’s Ladder, Gorillas in the Mist and No Way Out.

But the best tribute to the man is his music. So turn up your speakers and enjoy Jarre himself conducting this selection from Lawrence of Arabia:


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