Monday, 30 March 2009

Good Mourning - Maurice Jarre 1924-2009

As a lover of film music, it's always sad to hear of the passing of one of the greats. Today the world lost Maurice Jarre... There's something about his name even that evokes a sense of exotic romance and then there's the music, matching the name with its broad, exotic strides, sweeping romance and just a touch of fire.
I expect as word has spread of his death, from Cancer at the age of 84, stereos, computers and iPod's the world over have collectively poured out music from the likes of Lawrence of Arabia, Doctor Zhivago, Ghost, A Walk in the Clouds or Witness, a show of collective mourning through music. It's funny how we - and I'm assuming that people like me do the same thing! - will hear news like this and go straight to the CD shelves and pluck something out to listen to, a private memorial to someone you don't know, but whose music has moved and excited you. My own collection is somewhat sporadic, spread between CDs (at two addresses) and a vast iTunes library. Easy grabbing distance was Silva Screen's 'Film Music By Maurice Jarre' - incidentally the first album I penned sleeve notes for - and so that became my mourning music of choice. The 'Overture' from Lawrence of Arabia - the film that brought him to the wider world's ears and earning him the first of three Oscars - still raises hairs, the battery of tympani and brass at the beginning, followed by the sweep of the main theme, while the likes of Ghost is a musical diptych of romantic orchestral flourishes and steely, unearthly electronics - a musical play on the worlds of Heaven and Hell.
While he scored well over 150 projects during his career, it will be his enduring collaboration with the late David Lean which will be seen as the pinnacle of his presence on film. Watching the wonderful Royal Philharmonic Orchestra concert - Lean By Jarre - on DVD is always a thrilling and emotional experience; it's plain to see, not just through the music, but by Jarre's final words, how much affection the composer had for his old friend and collaborator. It will now have even more of an impact, knowing the composer too is no longer with us. Indeed the stars just keep on going out, which is a sad but inevitable fact.
As with any composer though, we have their music to remember them by after they're gone and Maurice Jarre's stream of now classic tunes will live on forever.

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