Saturday, April 4, 2009

Maurice Jarre

I learnt today that Maurice Jarre passed away on 29th March 2009 at Los Angeles.
The world has lost a brilliant musician. I considered him as the greatest film music composer after John Williams.
Maurice Alexis Jarre was born in Lyon, Rhone, France on 13th September 1924. He was 84. He enrolled at the Conservatoire du Paris against his father's will and studied composition, harmony and percussion. He studied under Joseph Martenot, the inventor of Martenot Waves, an electronic keyboard that was the predecessor of the modern synthesizer. In 1950, he wrote his first film score for Jean Vilar's 'The Princess of Hamburg'. Jarre's career took a spectacular turn in 1961 when producer Sam Spiegel asked him to work on David Lean's 'Lawrence of Arabia'. And what a score that was! He won his first oscar. It was haunting music. This was the beginning of a great partnership between him and David Lean. His second collaboration with Lean was on Doctor Zhivago in 1965 that earned him another oscar. This music attained a level of success that is rarely achieved by a film score. He worked with Lean again on Ryan's Daughter in 1970 and A Passage to India in 1984. He received his third oscar for A Passage to India. His other works are The Collector for William Wyler in 1965.He wrote ethereal music for Peter Weir in The Witness and The Mosquito Coast. Another brilliant score is for Franco Zefferelli's 'Jesus of Nazareth' in 1977. He also wrote film music for 'The Longest Day' and 'The Man Who Would be King' with use of Indian sarangi, tanpura and santoor. He also incorporated synthetic sounds in his music writing his first entirely electronic score for 'The Year of Living Dangerously' in 1982. He leaves behind two sons and a daughter. One son, Jean Michel Jarre, is another outstanding musician in his own right with works like 'Apocalypse des Animaux' and 'Oxygene'. His brother is Kevin Jarre and his sister is Stefanie Jarre. The perfect tribute to Maurice Jarre is to listen to 'Yuri's Mother's Funeral' in the Doctor Zhivago score where the music includes a balalaika.
One of the great musicians of the Twentieth Century crosses over. May God grant peace to his soul. Amen!


  1. Maurice's music has been a great influence on my life. I remember being so enthralled with "Lara's Theme" as a child, trying to pluck the melody out on my aunt's piano. It made me want to compose beautiful music of my own. More recently, I was extremely moved by Jarre's sublime music for the film, "A Walk in the Clouds." Wherever Maurice is walking now, it is perhaps even more beautiful than any music can adequately describe.

  2. Yes indeed Paul! Yet he described beautiful sentiments and feelings in his music and he will be richly rewarded when he is walking in the clouds.