Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Rachel Portman, Composer

The other day I was watching The Woman In Black (1989), a Victorian ghost story, and noticed that Rachel Portman composed the music for the film. That prompted me to look up this composer who I already knew from the Emma soundtrack.

Her website says: "Rachel Portman was born in west Sussex, England. She began composing at the age of 14 and read music at Oxford University. Whilst there, she became interested in writing music for student films and theatre productions. She gained experience writing music for drama in BBC and Channel 4 films such as Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit, Mike Leigh's Four Days In July and Jim Henson's Storyteller series, however the majority of her work has been in film."

Here are some of the film soundtracks that Rachel has worked on:

She was the first woman composer to win an Academy Award for Best Musical Score for her work on Emma in 1996. I bought this soundtrack as part of my Jane Austen collection a few years ago and I really love listening to it! You can listen to samples at Amazon.

The soundtrack for Because of Win Dixie in 2005. It's funny that when I first saw this film I recognized a few strains of music in the background as being similar to the Emma soundtrack. I was so surprised to find out that this sweet film has the same composer!

A beautiful soundtrack written for Nicholas Nickleby in 2002. I didn't really like this as an adaptation of Charles Dicken's book but it was nominated for some awards. Listen to samples at Amazon.

Rachel composed the music for this 2005 big screen adaptation of Oliver Twist. I haven't seen this film yet but long to see actor Ben Kingsley in his role as Fagin! The samples from the soundtrack on Amazon are delightful!

Worked with composer Nigel Westlake on the delightfully charming soundtrack for the sweet Miss Potter film in 2006. This soundtrack is on my wishlist! Listen to samples at Amazon.

I was surprised to see A Little Princess (1986) on her list of credits. This film has long been a family favorite as it faithfully tells the story. The music is light and pretty and I remember enjoying the beginning and end themes especially. I really need to get this film on DVD it's so lovely!

Here are some other films that Rachel Portman composed music for which I've seen but don't really recommend for viewing: The Lake House (2006), Ethan Frome (1993), Chocolat (2000) for which she was nominated for a Grammy and an Academy Award, The Manchurian Candidate (2004). And there's a whole list of other films that she's composed for which you can read about on her informative website and at Wikipedia.

Here's a video with music from The Woman In Black (1989). I am working on an Emma video which I hope to post soon.

While working on this post I just enjoyed listening to the Main Titles from Emma (on her website) and also previewing clips from other films at Rachel Portman is my new favorite composer! Her work is so lovely I could listen to it for hours!

Thank you Ms. Portman for your contribution to making period dramas that much more beautiful with your music!

Do you have any favorite movie soundtracks?



Charity U said...

I totally have favorite movie soundtracks. :) A few of them include the 1995 Pride and Prejudice, the Narnia ones, and probably the Emma 2009 one, because I love the music in that movie but don't have the CD yet.

I actually haven't listened to any by Ms. Portman (or rather, haven't seen any of the movies) but I'll have to look into that!

Charity U said...

Just wanted to let you know I awarded you on Austenitis!

Melody said...

I've seen Emma, Miss Potter, Nicholas Nickleby, and A Little Princess. When I watched Nicholas N, it reminded me of that version of Emma, and then I found out why! :-)
We had a VHS of A Little Princess, but it got messed up so I got a DVD from the library, and was disappointed to discover that some of the scenes were cut out. :(

Charity, I love the soundtracks from P&P and the new Emma as well! The 1995 Sense and Sensibility soundtrack is probably my favorite. :) I'm surprised that you haven't seen the Emma mentioned in the above post! It's only my 3rd favorite Emma, but it was enjoyable. :)

Hannah Prewett (beastsbelle) said...

I LOVE this version of "Emma", and a large part of it was Rachel Portman's beautiful music. That, and Jeremy Northam's portrayal of Mr. Knightley. ;) I'll have to check out some of her other soundtracks. :) I was aware of her work on "Emma", "Nicholas Nickelby" and "Miss Potter", but not the others.

Oh, did you know she also did the music for Disney's "Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted Christmas"? An unsatisfying sequel (in my humble opinion) but still nice music. :)

Unknown said...
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Unknown said...

Her music in the original A Little Princess movie was simply beautiful. I have done some research but have not been very successful at finding a name for the piece and I was wondering if you might know. I would love to add this song to my collection. Thanks!


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