Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Britain says "Goodbye" to an old composer from Yorkshire called John Barry

John Barry, the composer has died aged 77 and although he lived for many years in the USA, was always remained a Yorkshire man.

What you may or may not have known about John, that he :

* was born Jonathan Barry Prendergast in York, where his father ran a chain of cinemas and his mother was a talented musician.

* was educated at a Catholic convent school in the city.

* has said : "My father had seven or eight cinemas, so I was brought up in the cinema. I remember my Dad carrying me through the foyer of the 'Rialto' in York and pushing the swing doors open at a matinee. I was looking at this big black-and-white mouse on the screen, and he'd taken me to see a Mickey Mouse cartoon."

* found that the combination of film and music made a deep impression on him and he began taking piano lessons with the 'Master of the Music' at York Minster.

* went on to study with the jazz arranger Bill Russo, while his father, who was a jazz fan, presented concerts with stars like Stan Kenton and Count Basie.

* while doing 'National Service' in the Army, learnt to arrange music and played trumpet in an army band.

* formed his own jazz combo, 'The John Barry Seven' and scored a string of pop hits during the late 50's and early 60's, including 'Hit and Miss', 'Walk Don't Run' and 'Black Stockings'.

* working in London, socialised with Michael Caine and Terence Stamp, collaborated with the pop stars Adam Faith and Nina & Frederik and guaranteed himself the attention of gossip columnists by marrying the actress Jane Birkin.

* in 1960, wrote the music for the Adam Faith comedy 'Beat Girl'.

* in 1962, worked on the theme song for the first 'James Bond' film, 'Dr No'.

* wrote the scores for 'From Russia With Love' in 1963, 'Goldfinger' in 1964 and 'Thunderball' in 1965.

* conducted 'Goldfinger' :

* in 1969, scored John Schlesinger's 'Midnight Cowboy', one of the first movies to use a selection of pop songs on the soundtrack.

* wrote epic, sweeping film scores for 'Zulu' in 1964, 'Born Free' in 1966 and 'Out of Africa' in 1985.

* introduced blues and jazz themes into 'The Chase' in 1966 and 'The Cotton Club' in1984.

* created the music for 'Dances With Wolves' in 1990.

* had a throat cancer scare in 1989, which slowed his work rate, but his ambition remained undimmed and in 1998 he released 'The Beyondness of Things', a 'tone poem' unconnected to any film and which he presented as a concert piece. "It's amazing to work without film or without a director or producer," commented Barry, who was appointed OBE in 1999. "I love doing films, but it's been refreshing to work with such total freedom."

* could look back over a life where he was one of the most celebrated film composers of modern times, winning five Academy Awards and four Grammy Awards.

Some of his scores :

Sir Tim Rice, who co-wrote the theme to 'Octopussy' with him said that:

"He was a very pleasant man and very well-spoken with a slight Yorkshire tinge to his voice which he never lost.
He was able to catch the mood of a scene or a whole film by the genius of orchestration with fairly conventional instruments.
I can remember being quite surprised because he made these great rock 'n' roll records and then you heard these symphonic works as well.
It is quite extraordinary but film seemed to bring out the very best in him."

Who could match this for a lifetime's work ?

1960 : Never Let Go
1962 : The Cool Mikado
: The Amorous Prawn
: The L-Shaped Room
1963 : Man in the Middle
1964 : A Jolly Bad Fellow
: Séance on a Wet Afternoon
: Zulu
1965 : Boy and Bicycle
: Mister Moses
: Four in the Morning
:The Party's Over
:The Knack …and How to Get It
:King Rat
:The Ipcress File
1966 :Born Free
:The Chase
:The Wrong Box
:The Quiller Memorandum
1967 :The Whisperers
1968 :Boom!
:The Lion in Winter
1969 :The Appointment
:Midnight Cowboy
1970 :Monte Walsh
:The Last Valley
1971 :They Might Be Giants
:Murphy's War
:Mary, Queen of Scots
1972 :Alice's Adventures in Wonderland
:Follow Me!
1973 :A Doll's House
1974 :The Tamarind Seed
:The Dove (1974) (Golden Globe Award nomination for Best Original Song)
1975 :The Day of the Locust
1976 :King Kong
:Robin and Marian
1977 :The Deep
:First Love
:The White Buffalo
1978 :Game Of Death
:The Betsy
1979 :Hanover Street
:The Black Hole
1980 :Somewhere in Time
:Touched by Love
:Inside Moves
:Night Games
:Raise the Titanic
1981 :The Legend of the Lone Ranger
:Body Heat
1982 :Frances
:Murder By Phone
1983 :The Golden Seal
:High Road to China
1984 :The Cotton Club
:Until September
:Mike's Murder
1985 :Jagged Edge
:Out of Africa
1986 :Howard the Duck
:A Killing Affair
:The Golden Child
:Peggy Sue Got Married
1987 :Hearts of Fire
1988 :Masquerade
1990 :Dances with Wolves
1992 :Chaplin
1993 :Ruby Cairo
:My Life
:Indecent Proposal
1994 :The Specialist
1995 :Cry, The Beloved Country
:Across The Sea of Time
:The Scarlet Letter
1997 :Swept from the Sea
1998 :Mercury Rising
:Playing by Heart
2001 :Enigma
2004 :Brighton Rock

A medley of his greatest hits :

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