Monday, January 31, 2011

Remembering John Barry

Film Composer John Barry died yesterday at the age of Seventy-seven. He composed the score to over ninety movies and won the highest awards his industry could bestow. He was best known for scoring twelve of the films in the James Bond series, but his work went far beyond that franchise. His scores for Born Free, Lion in Winter, Out of Africa & Dances With Wolves won academy awards for Best Original Score, and the title song to Born Free won him an additional Oscar for Best Original Song. Also among his work are the scores for Midnight Cowboy, Chaplin, Somewhere in Time, The Cotton Club, Peggy Sue Got Married and Enigma. Along the way he managed to write five musicals and numerous television themes. Of his prolific career he said, When I look back on it, I think, how the Hell did I do all this?

He was a master at telling a story with music. When I was an overly romantic teenager I saw Somewhere in Time over and over and over again. I went so far as to buy the soundtrack, which I then proceeded to play over and over and over again. I thought I loved the score because I loved the movie, but looking back at it now I think it was the other way around. What comes to mind is not the plot (which really was a bit silly), or the performances, but the music. It was lush and beautiful, and I love it still.

His son-in-law, Simon Jack, said he truly loved writing music as much as people enjoyed listening to it”. He saw himself as much a dramatist as a composer and his music was inextricably linked to the stories told on the screen. We will miss all the stories he had yet to tell.

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