LOS ANGELES: Tributes poured in on Monday for Maurice Jarre, the Oscar-winning French composer of music scores for such timeless films as “Doctor Zhivago” and “Lawrence of Arabia”, who died at age 84.
Jarre died in Los Angeles in the early hours on Sunday after suffering from cancer, a spokesman for his son Jean-Michel Jarre told reporters.
Hollywood’s most decorated composer, Jarre had written more than 150 scores for a range of films from thrillers to love stories, working with star directors like John Huston, Alfred Hitchcock and Franco Zeffirelli.
He won his first Oscar for “Lawrence of Arabia” in 1962 and three years later was awarded a second statuette for “Doctor Zhivago”, famous for the tearful balalaika of “Lara’s Theme.” Both films were directed by David Lean.
A third Oscar came in 1984 for best original music score for “A Passage to India”, which he wrote for a full symphonic orchestra and marked yet another collaboration with Lean.
President Nicolas Sarkozy described Jarre as a “great composer” and praised his “majestic and full-bodied works, popular and classical music.”
“By working with some of the greatest filmmakers in the world, he showed that music can be just as important as pictures to make a beautiful and successful film,” said Sarkozy.
Jarre had also written the score for “Witness” from director Peter Weir in 1985 and joined him again in 1989 to compose the music to “Dead Poets Society”.
Other music scores include “Ghost” in 1990 and “I Dreamed of Africa” in 2000.
Other than the three Oscars, Jarre won countless accolades for his scores including Golden Globes and BAFTA British film awards. He also wrote music for theatre and ballet.
“He was a creative, modern musician who showed a perfect mastery of sound. His music provided a counterpoint to the pictures and formed one with the film,” said French Culture Minister Christine Albanel.
“He was Hollywood’s greatest musician,” said French singer Mireille Mathieu.
“His fantastic and timeless scores are in perfect osmosis with the films.”
“He was a great man of music and film, but also a great ambassador for France,” said Mathieu who singled out for praise the score to the 1966 film “Is Paris Burning?” about the French Resistance.
Born in the central city of Lyon, Jarre was studying engineering when he switched to music. He recounted being inspired by the works of conductor Leopold Stokowski.
He studied percussion and joined French composer Pierre Boulez who wrote for a Paris theatre.
In 1952 Jarre wrote his first score for the short film “Hotel des Invalides,” at the request of director Georges Franju.
“In filmmaking, the composer is always the last link,” Jarre told Le Journal du Dimanche daily a few years ago.
“Often you find yourself working with a producer who can’t wait to release his film. So you have to work quickly. For Lawrence of Arabia, I was given six weeks to write two hours of music.”
Jarre moved to the United States in the mid-1960s and briefly settled in Switzerland before returning to Los Angeles.
During his last public appearance in Europe, he was awarded a Golden Bear at the Berlin film festival in recognition of his life’s work.
His son Jean-Michel Jarre rose to prominence as a composer in his own right with the worldwide electronic music sensation “Oxygene” in 1976. He also has a daughter Stephanie and second son Kevin.