Maurice Jarre
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Maurice Jarre
Maurice Jarre
Maurice-Alexis Jarre.jpg
Background information
Born(1924-09-13)13 September 1924
Lyon, France
Died28 March 2009(2009-03-28) (aged 84)
Malibu, California, U.S.
Composer, conductor

Maurice-Alexis Jarre (French: [?a?]; 13 September 1924 – 28 March 2009)[1][2][3] was a French composer and conductor, "one of the giants of 20th-century film music"[4] 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".[5]

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.[6] 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) performed 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.

Early life

Jarre was born in Lyon, France, in 1924, the son of Gabrielle Renée (née Boullu) and André Jarre, a radio technical director.[7] 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.[3] He became director of the Théâtre National Populaire and recorded his first film score in France in 1951.[8]

Film scoring

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.[9] 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.[3] 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."[10]

Jarre's television work includes the score for the miniseries Jesus of Nazareth (1977), directed by Franco Zeffirelli, Sh?gun (1980), and the theme for PBS's Great Performances.[3]

Jarre scored his last project in 2001, a television mini-series about the Holocaust entitled Uprising.[3]

Music style

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.[11]

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.[12]


Maurice Jarre died on 28 March 2009 in Los Angeles after a battle with cancer.[13]


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 four Golden Globes and was nominated for ten.

The American Film Institute ranked Jarre's score for Lawrence of Arabia #3 on their list of the greatest film scores. His scores for the following films were also nominated for the list:

Numerous additional awards include ASCAP's Lifetime Achievement Award in 1993.[14]




Year Title Director Notes
1960 La main chaude Gérard Oury
La corde raide Jean-Charles Dudrumet
Crack in the Mirror Richard Fleischer
Recourse in Grace László Benedek
1961 The President Henri Verneuil
Spotlight on a Murderer Georges Franju
The Big Gamble Richard Fleischer
Three Faces of Sin François Villiers
Famous Love Affairs Michel Boisrond
1962 Les oliviers de la justice James Blue
Sun in Your Eyes Jacques Bourdon
Thérèse Desqueyroux Georges Franju
The Longest Day Ken Annakin

Andrew Marton

Bernhard Wicki

Sundays and Cybele Serge Bourguignon Nominated- Academy Award for Best Original Score
L'oiseau de paradis Marcel Camus
Lawrence of Arabia David Lean Academy Award for Best Original Score
Nominated - Golden Globe Award for Best Original Score
Nominated- Grammy Award for Best Score Soundtrack for Visual Media
To Die in Madrid Frédéric Rossif
1963 A King Without Distraction François Leterrier
Judex Georges Franju
1964 Mort, où est ta victoire? Hervé Bromberger
Behold a Pale Horse Fred Zinnemann
The Train John Frankenheimer
Weekend at Dunkirk Henri Verneuil
1965 The Collector William Wyler
Doctor Zhivago David Lean Academy Award for Best Original Score
Golden Globe Award for Best Original Score
Grammy Award for Best Score Soundtrack for Visual Media
1966 The Professionals Richard Brooks
Is Paris Burning? René Clément Nominated - Golden Globe Award for Best Original Score
Gambit Ronald Neame
Grand Prix John Frankenheimer
1967 The Night of the Generals Anatole Litvak
The 25th Hour Henri Verneuil Composed with Georges Delerue
1968 Villa Rides Buzz Kulik
5 Card Stud Henry Hathaway
The Fixer John Frankenheimer
Isadora Karel Reisz
1969 The Extraordinary Seaman John Frankenheimer
The Damned Luchino Visconti
Topaz Alfred Hitchcock



Year Title Director Notes
1980 The American Success Company William Richert
The Black Marble Harold Becker
The Last Flight of Noah's Ark Charles Jarrott
Resurrection Daniel Petrie Nominated- Saturn Award for Best Music
Sh?gun Jerry London
Enola Gay David Lowell Rich
1981 Lion of the Desert Moustapha Akkad
Chu Chu and the Philly Flash David Lowell Rich Composed with Pete Rugolo
Circle of Deceit Volker Schlöndorff
Taps Harold Becker
1982 Don't Cry, It's Only Thunder Peter Werner
Coming Out of the Ice Waris Hussein
Firefox Clint Eastwood
Young Doctors in Love Garry Marshall
The Year of Living Dangerously Peter Weir Nominated- AACTA Award for Best Original Music Score
1983 For Those I Loved Robert Enrico Sept d'Or for Best Music
1984 Samson and Delilah Lee Philips
Top Secret! Jim Abrahams
David Zucker
Jerry Zucker
Dreamscape Joseph Ruben
A Passage to India David Lean Academy Award for Best Original Score
Golden Globe Award for Best Original Score
Nominated- Grammy Award for Best Score Soundtrack for Visual Media
1985 Witness Peter Weir Nominated- Academy Award for Best Original Score
Nominated- Golden Globe Award for Best Original Score
Nominated- Grammy Award for Best Score Soundtrack for Visual Media
Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome George Miller
George Ogilvie
Themes by Brian May
The Bride Franc Roddam Nominated- Saturn Award for Best Music
Enemy Mine Wolfgang Petersen
1986 Apology Robert Bierman
Tai-Pan Daryl Duke
The Mosquito Coast Peter Weir Golden Globe Award for Best Original Score
Solarbabies Alan Johnson
1987 No Way Out Roger Donaldson
Julia and Julia Peter Del Monte
Gaby: A True Story Luis Mandoki
Fatal Attraction Adrian Lyne Nominated- Grammy Award for Best Score Soundtrack for Visual Media
The Murder of Mary Phagan William Hale
Distant Thunder Rick Rosenthal
Wildfire Zalman King
Moon over Parador Paul Mazursky
Gorillas in the Mist Michael Apted Golden Globe Award for Best Original Score
Nominated - Academy Award for Best Original Score
Le palanquin des larmes Jacques Dorfmann
Cocktail Roger Donaldson Rejected score
Replaced by J. Peter Robinson
1989 Chances Are Emile Ardolino
Dead Poets Society Peter Weir BAFTA Award for Best Film Music
Prancer John D. Hancock
Enemies, A Love Story Paul Mazursky



Year Title Director Notes
2000 I Dreamed of Africa Hugh Hudson
2001 Uprising Jon Avnet

See also


  1. ^ McLellan, Dennis (March 31, 2009). "Maurice Jarre dies at 84; composer for 'Lawrence of Arabia'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2009.
  2. ^ Weber, Bruce (March 31, 2009). "Maurice Jarre, Hollywood Composer, Dies at 84". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009.
  3. ^ a b c d e allmusic Biography
  4. ^ McLellan, Dennis (March 31, 2009). "Maurice Jarre dies at 84; composer for 'Lawrence of Arabia'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2014.
  5. ^ Weber, Bruce (March 31, 2009). "Maurice Jarre, Hollywood Composer, Dies at 84". The New York Times. Retrieved 2014.
  6. ^ Maurice Jarre (I) - Biography
  7. ^ "Maurice Jarre at". Retrieved .
  8. ^ "Maurice Jarre: Information and Much More from". Retrieved .
  9. ^ Leydon, Joe (2009-03-30). ", March 30, 2009". Retrieved .
  10. ^ Award Winning Musical Film Composer Maurice Jarre Dies From Cancer At 84 Archived 2011-05-25 at the Wayback Machine
  11. ^ Stuart, Julia (22 August 2004). "Jean Michel Jarre: Smooth operator". Independent. Independent Digital News and Media Ltd. Retrieved 2016.
  12. ^ "Oscar-winning movie legend Maurice Jarre dies". March 31, 2009. Retrieved .
  13. ^ Corliss, Richard (2009-03-30). "Obituary at". Retrieved .
  14. ^ "Maurice Jarre - Awards"., Inc. Retrieved 2012.

External links

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