Maurice Jarre


A composer of film scores almost exclusively since 1952, Maurice Jarre has written the music for over 170 films, including the David Lean classics Lawrence of Arabia, Doctor Zhivago and A Passage to India (all of which won him the Academy Award). In addition to the standard symphonic sweep of many of his scores, Jarre also experimented in the 1980s with electronic sounds, the most successful result being the acclaimed synthesiser score to Witness (1985). He is the father of composer Jean-Michel Jarre.

Jarre was born in Lyons on 13 September 1924 and, after studying engineering at the University of Lyons and at the Sorbonne, enrolled at the Paris Conservatoire to study composition with Arthur Honegger. After serving in the army during the war, he played percussion for a number of groups, becoming friendly with Pierre Boulez and Georges Delerue, and was appointed musical director of the Théâtre National Populaire.

In 1952, Jarre was asked to score the film Hôtel des Invalides, beginning an illustrious career in the French cinema working with directors Jacques Demy, Jean-Paul Rappeneau and Alain Resnais. Following the immense success of his music to Lawrence of Arabia in 1962, Jarre, previously unknown in America, moved to the USA where he worked with acclaimed Hollywood directors John Huston, John Frankenheimer and Peter Weir.

Established in Hollywood, Jarre's scores began to win him numerous awards, including three Academy Awards and Oscar nominations for, among others, Witness, Gorillas in the Mist (1988) and Ghost (1989). He also received BAFTAs for Witness and Dead Poets Society (1989).

Jarre has also written concert music, ballet and opera in addition to his film scores. Trained in avant-garde  Paris, his early concert works naturally evince an interest in serial techniques, though his theatre works, including the popular ballet Notre Dame de Paris (1964), are written in a more popular idiom. His film scores demonstrate a imaginatively creative  composer, keen to experiment with exotic instruments and techniques: Doctor Zhivago (1965), for instance, makes use of the balalaika and Russian folksongs; and his score for Visconti's The Damned (1969) used an orchestra made up almost entirely of cellos and double basses.

Related composers: Georges Delerue, Pierre Boulez, Elmer Bernstein, Miklós Rózsa, Alfred Newman, Jean-Michel Jarre

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