13 September 1924|
28 March 2009 (aged 84)|
Malibu, California, U.S.
Maurice-Alexis Jarre (French: [ʒaʁ]; 13 September 1924 – 28 March 2009) was a French composer and conductor, "one of the giants of 20th-century film music" 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".
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. 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.
Jarre was born in Lyon, France, in 1924, the son of Gabrielle Renée (née Boullu) and André Jarre, a radio technical director. 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. He became director of the Théâtre National Populaire and recorded his first film score in France in 1951.
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. 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 The Island at the Top of the World (1974), Dreamscape (1984), Enemy Mine (1985), and Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome (1985). The latter is written for full orchestra, augmented by a chorus, four grand pianos, a pipe organ, 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. Other films for which he provided the music include A Walk in the Clouds (1995), for which he wrote the score and all of the songs, including the romantic "Mariachi Serenade". Also to his credit is the 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."
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 was married four times, the first three marriages ending in divorce. In the 1940s, his marriage to Francette Pejot, a French Resistance member and concentration camp survivor, produced a son, Jean-Michel Jarre, a French composer, performer, and music producer who is one of the pioneers in electronic music. When Jean-Michel was five years old, Maurice split up with his wife and moved to the United States, leaving Jean-Michel with his mother in France.
In 1965, Jarre married French actress Dany Saval; together they had a daughter, Stephanie Jarre. He next married American actress Laura Devon (1967–84), resulting in his adopting her son, Kevin Jarre, a screenwriter, with credits on such films as Tombstone and Glory (1989). From 1984 to his death, he was married to Fong F. Khong.
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.
Selected filmography and awards
- In the Tracks of Maurice Jarre, a documentary about Jarre.
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- allmusic Biography
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- Maurice Jarre (I) - Biography
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- Award Winning Musical Film Composer Maurice Jarre Dies From Cancer At 84 Archived 2011-05-25 at the Wayback Machine.
- Stuart, Julia (22 August 2004). "Jean Michel Jarre: Smooth operator". Independent. Independent Digital News and Media Ltd. Retrieved 8 July 2016.
- "Oscar-winning movie legend Maurice Jarre dies". Cnn.com. March 31, 2009. Retrieved 2012-07-22.
- Corliss, Richard (2009-03-30). "Obituary at". Time.com. Retrieved 2012-07-22.
- "Maurice Jarre - Awards". IMDb.com, Inc. Retrieved 21 September 2012.
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