Maurice-Alexis Jarre (13 September 1924 – 28 March 2009) was a French composer and conductor, "one of the giants of 20th century film music" who was "among the most sought-after composers in the movie industry" and "a creator of both subtle underscoring and grand, sweeping themes, not only writing for conventional orchestras... but also experimenting with electronic sounds later in his career."
Jarre was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.Three of his compositions spent a total of 42 weeks on the UK singles chart; the biggest hit was "Somewhere My Love" (to his tune "Lara's Theme", with lyrics by Paul Francis Webster) by the Mike Sammes Singers, which reached Number 14 in 1966 and spent 38 weeks on the chart.
Jarre was born in Lyon, France, in 1924, the son of Gabrielle Renée (née Boullu) and André Jarre, a radio technical director. He first enrolled in the engineering school at the Sorbonne, but decided to pursue music courses instead. He left the Sorbonne against his father's will and enrolled at the Conservatoire de Paris to study composition and harmonyand chose percussion as his major instrument. He became director of the Théâtre National Populaire and recorded his first film score in France in 1951.
In 1961 Jarre's music career experienced a major change when British film producer Sam Spiegel asked him to write the score for the 1962 epic Lawrence of Arabia, directed by David Lean. The acclaimed score won Jarre his first Academy Award and he would go on to compose the scores to all of Lean's subsequent films. He followed with The Train (1964) and Grand Prix (1966), both for director John Frankenheimer, and in between had another great success in David Lean'sDoctor Zhivago, which included the lyricless tune "Lara's Theme" (later the tune for the song "Somewhere My Love"), and which earned him his second Oscar. He worked with Alfred Hitchcock on Topaz (1969); though Hitchcock's experiences on the film were unhappy, he was satisfied with Jarre's score, telling him "I have not given you a great film, but you have given me a great score." His score for David Lean's Ryan's Daughter (1970), set in Ireland, completely eschews traditional Irish music styles, owing to Lean's preferences. The song "It was a Good Time," from Ryan's Daughter went on to be recorded by musical stars such as Liza Minnelli who used it in her critically acclaimed television special Liza with a Z as well as by others during the 1970s. He contributed the music for Luchino Visconti's The Damned(1969), and John Huston's The Man Who Would Be King (1975).
In 1990 Jarre was again nominated for an Academy Award scoring the supernatural love story/thriller Ghost. His music for the final scene of the film is based on "Unchained Melody" composed by fellow film composer Alex North. Other films for which he provided the music include his passionate love theme from Fatal Attraction (1987), and the moody electronic soundscapes of After Dark, My Sweet (1990). He was well respected by other composers including John Williams, who stated on Jarre's death, "(He) is to be well remembered for his lasting contribution to film music...we all have been enriched by his legacy."
Jarre was married four times, the first three marriages ending in divorce. His marriage to Francette Pejot (in the 1940s, after World War II), produced a son, Jean Michel Jarre, a French composer who is one of the pioneers in electronic music. In 1965, he married French actress Dany Saval. Together they had a daughter, Stephanie Jarre. Jarre next married American actress Laura Devon (1967–1984), resulting in him adopting her son, Kevin Jarre, a screenwriter, with credits on such films as Tombstone and Glory. From 1984 to his death he was married to Fong F. Khong (1984–2009).