Maurice Jarre

Maurice Jarre, composer for film, died on 28 March 09, aged 84. I took note because of Jarre’s astonishing list of film credits, with some of my all-time favourites including The Longest Day, Lawrence of Arabia and A Passage to India.

The Economist‘s obituary (16 Apr 09) says this of Jarre’s part in Lawrence:

The cinema, as he remembered it, was off Trafalgar Square. It was small, stuffy and dark. And there, over 40 hours in early 1962, Maurice Jarre watched the first rough cut of David Lean’s Lawrence of Arabia. The showings started at 9am on a Monday and did not finish till the Friday. And he was mesmerised. Peter O’Toole, the blue-eyed, white-robed Lawrence, rode his camel along a beach at dawn. He crested the dunes and gazed out over a landscape of shimmering oranges and greys. Cavalcades of Arabs, keffiyehs flying, raced across the sand. It was astoundingly beautiful. And it was completely silent.

Mr Jarre’s commission was to write the music for it. It was extraordinary that he had been asked. Sam Spiegel, the producer, had heard only his ten-minute score for a French film called Sundays and Cybele, written for bass, counter-bass, flute and table-harp. Now he was supposed to produce, in six weeks, two hours of music for a 100-piece orchestra. Back in his room in Half Moon Street he tried to read all he could about T.E. Lawrence, including the huge Seven Pillars of Wisdom, as well as searching for that little swatch of notes that might turn into a theme. Search, search, search, search, as Stravinsky said. “Sam Spiegel told me, you have the job of Superman!” Mr Jarre joyously recalled.

New York Times also has a fine obituary.