Rachel Portman

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Rachel Portman

Rachel Mary Berkeley Portman

(1960-12-11) 11 December 1960 (age 62)
Haslemere, Surrey, England
EducationWorcester College, Oxford
SpouseUberto Pasolini (m.1995–2006)

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

Early life and education[edit]

Portman was born in Haslemere in Surrey, England, the daughter of Sheila Margaret Penelope (née Mowat) Portman and Berkeley Charles Berkeley Portman.[1] She was educated at Charterhouse 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]


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]

Since then, Portman has written over 100 scores for film, television and theatre.

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 called The Water Diviner's Tale.[3]

Awards and honours[edit]

Portman's first award was received as the result of scoring "a large body of work" for The Storyteller, for which she received the Anthony Asquith Award from the British Film Institute.[4]

Later, Portman became the first female composer to win an Academy Award in the category of Best Musical or Comedy Score (for Emma in 1996). 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.[5]

Portman was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2010 New Year Honours.[6]

In 2015, Portman received the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Music Composition for a Miniseries, Movie, or a Special for her work on Bessie. In 2022, she was honoured with the Career Achievement Award at the Zurich Film Festival.

In 2023, Portman received the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Music Composition for Julia (2021 film).

Personal life[edit]

Portman married producer Uberto Pasolini in 1995, but the couple divorced in 2006; they have three children.[7] In 2021 she married Andrew Gilchrist.



  1. ^ a b c Rachel Portman Biography (1960-), FilmReference.com
  2. ^ a b c "Rachel Portman Biography". Rachelportman.co.uk. Retrieved 28 January 2014.
  3. ^ The Guardian "The Water Diviner's Tale" by Michael Billington, 27 August 2007
  4. ^ BBC Composer of the Week: Rachel Portman at 15:36 by Donald Macleod, 9 March 2018 (retrieved 19 April 2018)
  5. ^ "Rachel Portman Receives Richard Kirk Award at BMI Film & TV Music Awards". BMI.com. 20 May 2010. Retrieved 20 October 2010.
  6. ^ "No. 59282". The London Gazette (Supplement). 31 December 2009. p. 11.
  7. ^ Gardner, Anthony (21 March 2001). "Meet the queen of the film score". Evening Standard.

External links[edit]