Rachel Portman

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Rachel Portman
Born Rachel Mary Berkeley Portman
(1960-12-11) 11 December 1960 (age 54)
Haslemere, England

Rachel Mary Berkeley Portman,[1] OBE (born 11 December 1960)[1] is an English composer, best known for scoring films.

Early life and education[edit]

Portman was born on 11 December 1960 in Haslemere in West Sussex, England, the daughter of Penelope (née Mowat) and Berkeley Charles Portman.[1]

She was educated at Charterhouse School and became interested in music from a young age, beginning composing at the age of 14.[2]

After finishing school, Portman studied Music at Worcester College, Oxford. It was here that her interest in composing music for films began as she started experimenting with writing music for student films and theatre productions.[2]


Rachel Portman's career in music began with writing music for drama in BBC and Channel 4 films such as Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit, Mike Leigh's Four Days In July and Jim Henson's Storyteller series.[2]

Portman has composed the scores for dozens of feature films. The score she composed for the film Dangerous Beauty was replaced with music by George Fenton, but some of her material still remains in the film; her score for I Don't Know How She Does It, on the other hand, was completely thrown out (Aaron Zigman rescored the film). She was originally signed to score Mulan, but had to drop out and was replaced with Jerry Goldsmith (Portman later scored Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted Christmas, her only animated movie to date). For television, she composed the score for all thirteen episodes of Jim Henson's The Storyteller and two episodes of The Jim Henson Hour ("Monster Maker" and "Living with Dinosaurs").

Portman is perhaps best known for her music soundtrack compositions in the movies Chocolat and The Cider House Rules.

Her other works include a children's opera, The Little Prince (which was later adapted for television) and Little House on the Prairie, a musical based upon the Laura Ingalls Wilder books Little House on the Prairie (2008). Portman was commissioned to write a piece of choral music for the BBC Proms series in August 2007.

Awards and honors[edit]

She was the first female composer to win an Academy Award in the category of Best Musical or Comedy Score (for Emma in 1996). (Previously, female songwriters Barbra Streisand, in 1977, Buffy Sainte-Marie, in 1983, and Carly Simon, in 1989, each won Oscars, but in the category of Best Original Song). Portman was also nominated for Academy Awards for her scores for The Cider House Rules in 1999 and Chocolat in 2000.

On 19 May 2010, she was given the Richard Kirk Award at the BMI Film & TV Awards for her contributions to film and television music. Portman is the first woman to receive the honour.[3]

Portman was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2010 New Year Honours.[4]



  1. ^ a b c Rachel Portman Biography (1960-), FilmReference.com website.
  2. ^ a b c "Rachel Portman Biography". Retrieved 28 January 2014. 
  3. ^ "Rachel Portman Receives Richard Kirk Award at BMI Film & TV Music Awards". BMI.com. Retrieved 2010-10-20. 
  4. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 59282. p. 11. 31 December 2009.

External links[edit]