I’ve written about movie music a number of times, and not just about its importance to the audience’s enjoyment of the film but also about how a lot of it can also be appreciated as stand-alone music. A good example would be just about anything written by French composer Maurice Jarre, a multiple Oscar-winner who is probably best remembered for the soundtracks of films like Lawrence Of Arabia and Doctor Zhivago.
Jarre, who died in 2009 at age 84, began life in Lyon, France, as Maurice-Alexis Jarre, the son of a radio engineer. As a young man, he too studied engineering but eventually switched to music, attending the prestigious Paris Conservatoire. By the early 1950s he was beginning to find some success as the musical director of a national theater group and as a composer of music that soon grew to include film soundtracks.
It wasn’t long before his name began to show up on the international scene, and within a few years he’d earned the job of providing the music for David Lean’s upcoming masterpiece, Lawrence Of Arabia. The 1962 film would provide Jarre with the first of his many Academy Awards, and would begin what would be several decades of fame for the composer.
Although Jarre also composed (and often conducted) other orchestral works, it would be movie music that would bring him the most recognition. A list of the films that he composed for is too long for us here, but some of the best known are Doctor Zhivago, Is Paris Burning?, Grand Prix, Ryan’s Daughter, A Passage To India, Witness, Gorillas In The Mist, and Ghost.
In later years Jarre slowed down a little but he was still working on film music even in the new millennium, contributing to the music for I Dreamed Of Africa in 2000 and a TV movie a little later. Unfortunately, his health deteriorated after that, and he died in 2009.