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)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Occupation(s)Composer, conductor
Years active1958–2001

Maurice-Alexis Jarre (French: [ʒaʁ]; 13 September 1924 – 28 March 2009)[1][2][3] was a French composer and conductor. 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) to A Passage to India (1984). He 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 Lean.

Notable scores for other directors included Eyes Without a Face (1959), The Longest Day (1962), The Train (1964), The Collector (1965), Grand Prix (1966), The Man Who Would Be King (1975), Mohammad, Messenger of God (1976), Jesus of Nazareth (1977), Lion of the Desert (1981), The Year of Living Dangerously (1982), Witness (1985), The Mosquito Coast (1986), Fatal Attraction (1987), Gorillas in the Mist (1988), Dead Poets Society (1989), and Ghost (1990). He worked with such directors as John Frankenheimer, Peter Weir, Georges Franju, John Huston, Adrian Lyne, Luchino Visconti, Alfred Hitchcock, Elia Kazan, and Volker Schlöndorff.

Jarre also won four Golden Globes, three BAFTA Awards, a Grammy Award, and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.[4] 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.

He was the father of musician Jean-Michel Jarre and the adopted father of screenwriter Kevin Jarre.

Early life

Jarre was born in Lyon, the son of Gabrielle Renée (née Boullu) and André Jarre, a radio technical director.[5] 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.[6]

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.[7] 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): although Hitchcock's experiences with 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, according 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."[8]

Jarre's television work includes the theme for the short-lived 1967 Western series on CBS, Cimarron Strip, his score for the miniseries Jesus of Nazareth (1977), directed by Franco Zeffirelli, Shōgun (1980), and the theme for PBS's Great Performances.[3]

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

He was "one of the giants of 20th-century film music"[9] 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".[10]

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 1980s 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 (1967–1984), 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 of cancer on 28 March 2009 in Los Angeles.[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]



1957Burning FuseHenri DecoinComposed with Louis Gasté & Philippe Gérard
1958Head Against the WallGeorges Franju
1959Les DragueursJean-Pierre Mocky
Beast at BayPierre Chenal
Stars at NoonJacques Ertaud
Marcel Ichac
Vous n'avez rien à déclarer?Clément Duhour
Eyes Without a FaceGeorges Franju


1960La main chaudeGérard Oury
Lovers on a TightropeJean-Charles Dudrumet
Crack in the MirrorRichard Fleischer
Recourse in GraceLászló Benedek
1961The PresidentHenri Verneuil
Spotlight on a MurdererGeorges Franju
The Big GambleRichard Fleischer
Three Faces of SinFrançois Villiers
Famous Love AffairsMichel Boisrond
1962Les oliviers de la justiceJames Blue
Sun in Your EyesJacques Bourdon
Thérèse DesqueyrouxGeorges Franju
The Longest DayKen Annakin
Andrew Marton
Bernhard Wicki
Sundays and CybeleSerge BourguignonNominated- Academy Award for Best Original Score
L'oiseau de paradisMarcel Camus
Lawrence of ArabiaDavid LeanAcademy 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 MadridFrédéric Rossif
1963A King Without DistractionFrançois Leterrier
JudexGeorges Franju
1964Mort, où est ta victoire?Hervé Bromberger
Behold a Pale HorseFred Zinnemann
The TrainJohn Frankenheimer
Weekend at DunkirkHenri Verneuil
1965The CollectorWilliam Wyler
Doctor ZhivagoDavid LeanAcademy Award for Best Original Score
Golden Globe Award for Best Original Score
Grammy Award for Best Score Soundtrack for Visual Media
1966The ProfessionalsRichard Brooks
Is Paris Burning?René ClémentNominated - Golden Globe Award for Best Original Score
GambitRonald Neame
Grand PrixJohn Frankenheimer
1967The Night of the GeneralsAnatole Litvak
The 25th HourHenri VerneuilComposed with Georges Delerue
1968Villa RidesBuzz Kulik
5 Card StudHenry Hathaway
The FixerJohn Frankenheimer
IsadoraKarel Reisz
1969The Extraordinary SeamanJohn Frankenheimer
The DamnedLuchino Visconti
TopazAlfred Hitchcock


1970The Only Game in TownGeorge Stevens
El CondorJohn Guillermin
Ryan's DaughterDavid LeanNominated- Grammy Award for Best Score Soundtrack for Visual Media
1971Plaza SuiteArthur Hiller
Red SunTerence Young
A Season in HellNelo Risi
1972Pope JoanMichael Anderson
The Life and Times of Judge Roy BeanJohn HustonNominated- Academy Award for Best Original Song ("Marmalade, Molasses & Honey")
The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon MarigoldsPaul Newman
1973Ash WednesdayLarry Peerce
The Mackintosh ManJohn Huston
1974Great ExpectationsJoseph Hardy
The Island at the Top of the WorldRobert Stevenson
1975MandingoRichard FleischerComposed with Muddy Waters
PosseKirk Douglas
The SilenceJoseph Hardy
The Man Who Would Be KingJohn HustonNominated- Golden Globe Award for Best Original Score
Mr. SycamorePancho Kohner
1976Shout at the DevilPeter R. Hunt
The Last TycoonElia Kazan
The MessageMoustapha AkkadNominated- Academy Award for Best Original Score
1977Jesus of NazarethFranco Zeffirelli
The Prince and the PauperRichard Lester
March or DieDick Richards
1978Like a Turtle on Its BackLuc Béraud
Two SolitudesLionel Chetwynd
The UsersJoseph Hardy
Mourning Becomes ElectraNick Havinga
Ishi: The Last of His TribeRobert Ellis Miller
1979The Tin DrumVolker Schlöndorff
Winter KillsWilliam Richert
The Magician of LublinMenahem Golan


1980The American Success CompanyWilliam Richert
The Black MarbleHarold Becker
The Last Flight of Noah's ArkCharles Jarrott
ResurrectionDaniel PetrieNominated- Saturn Award for Best Music
ShōgunJerry London
Enola GayDavid Lowell Rich
1981Lion of the DesertMoustapha Akkad
Chu Chu and the Philly FlashDavid Lowell RichComposed with Pete Rugolo
Circle of DeceitVolker Schlöndorff
TapsHarold Becker
1982Don't Cry, It's Only ThunderPeter Werner
Coming Out of the IceWaris Hussein
FirefoxClint Eastwood
Young Doctors in LoveGarry Marshall
The Year of Living DangerouslyPeter WeirNominated- AACTA Award for Best Original Music Score
1983For Those I LovedRobert EnricoSept d'Or for Best Music
1984Samson and DelilahLee Philips
Top Secret!Jim Abrahams
David Zucker
Jerry Zucker
DreamscapeJoseph Ruben
A Passage to IndiaDavid LeanAcademy Award for Best Original Score
Golden Globe Award for Best Original Score
Nominated- Grammy Award for Best Score Soundtrack for Visual Media
1985WitnessPeter WeirNominated- 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 ThunderdomeGeorge Miller
George Ogilvie
Themes by Brian May
The BrideFranc RoddamNominated- Saturn Award for Best Music
Enemy MineWolfgang Petersen
1986ApologyRobert Bierman
Tai-PanDaryl Duke
The Mosquito CoastPeter WeirNominated- Golden Globe Award for Best Original Score
SolarbabiesAlan Johnson
1987Tokyo BlackoutToshio Masuda
No Way OutRoger Donaldson
Julia and JuliaPeter Del Monte
Gaby: A True StoryLuis Mandoki
Fatal AttractionAdrian LyneNominated- Grammy Award for Best Score Soundtrack for Visual Media
The Murder of Mary PhaganWilliam Hale
Distant ThunderRick Rosenthal
WildfireZalman King
Moon over ParadorPaul Mazursky
Gorillas in the MistMichael AptedGolden Globe Award for Best Original Score
Nominated - Academy Award for Best Original Score
Le palanquin des larmesJacques Dorfmann
CocktailRoger DonaldsonRejected score
Replaced by J. Peter Robinson
1989Chances AreEmile Ardolino
Dead Poets SocietyPeter WeirBAFTA Award for Best Film Music
PrancerJohn D. Hancock
Enemies, A Love StoryPaul Mazursky


1990Solar CrisisRichard C. Sarafian
GhostJerry ZuckerNominated- Academy Award for Best Original Score
Nominated- Saturn Award for Best Music
Jacob's LadderAdrian Lyne
Almost an AngelJohn Cornell
1991Only the LonelyChris Columbus
Fires WithinGillian Armstrong
1992The Setting SunRou Tomono
School TiesRobert Mandel
Shadow of the WolfJacques Dorfmann
Pierre Magny
1993Mr. JonesMike Figgis
FearlessPeter Weir
1994The River WildCurtis HansonRejected score
Replaced by Jerry Goldsmith
1995A Walk in the CloudsAlfonso ArauGolden Globe Award for Best Original Score
1996The SunchaserMichael Cimino
White SquallRidley ScottRejected score
Replaced by Jeff Rona & Hans Zimmer
1997Day and NightBernard-Henri Lévy
1999SunshineIstván SzabóNominated- Golden Globe Award for Best Original Score
Nominated- Genie Award for Best Music Score


2000I Dreamed of AfricaHugh Hudson
2001UprisingJon Avnet


  1. ^ McLellan, Dennis (March 31, 2009). "Maurice Jarre dies at 84; composer for 'Lawrence of Arabia'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved March 31, 2009.
  2. ^ Weber, Bruce (March 31, 2009). "Maurice Jarre, Hollywood Composer, Dies at 84". The New York Times. Retrieved March 31, 2009.
  3. ^ a b c d e allmusic Biography
  4. ^ "Maurice Jarre". Retrieved 17 September 2021.
  5. ^ "Maurice Jarre at". Retrieved 2012-07-22.
  6. ^ "Maurice Jarre: Information and Much More from". Retrieved 2012-07-22.
  7. ^ Leydon, Joe (2009-03-30). ", March 30, 2009". Retrieved 2012-07-22.
  8. ^ "Award Winning Musical Film Composer Maurice Jarre Dies From Cancer At 84". Archived from the original on 25 May 2011. Retrieved 17 September 2021.
  9. ^ McLellan, Dennis (March 31, 2009). "Maurice Jarre dies at 84; composer for 'Lawrence of Arabia'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved December 26, 2014.
  10. ^ Weber, Bruce (March 31, 2009). "Maurice Jarre, Hollywood Composer, Dies at 84". The New York Times. Retrieved December 26, 2014.
  11. ^ Stuart, Julia (22 August 2004). "Jean Michel Jarre: Smooth operator". The Independent. Archived from the original on 2022-05-12. Retrieved 8 July 2016.
  12. ^ "Oscar-winning movie legend Maurice Jarre dies". March 31, 2009. Retrieved 2012-07-22.
  13. ^ Corliss, Richard (2009-03-30). "Obituary". Archived from the original on April 2, 2009. Retrieved 2012-07-22.
  14. ^ "Maurice Jarre - Awards". Retrieved 21 September 2012.

External links

Media files used on this page

Maurice-Alexis Jarre.jpg

French composer Maurice-Alexis Jarre