If by any chance you haven’t watched or heard of The English Patient movie that scored many awards, and is still highly acclaimed by the public worldwide, here is a brief synopsis for a start:
The English Patient is a 1996 American romantic war drama film directed by Anthony Minghella from his own script based on the novel of the same name by Michael Ondaatje. Produced by Saul Zaentz, the film tells the story of four people who find themselves in an abandoned villa in northern Italy in the last months of World War II.
The eponymous protagonist, a man burned beyond recognition who speaks with an English accent, tells his story to the young nurse caring for him in a series of flashbacks, revealing his true identity and the love affair he was involved in before the war.
The film was released to critical acclaim and received 12 nominations at the 69th Academy Awards. It won nine out of the 12, including Best Picture, Best Director for Minghella, Best Supporting Actress for Juliette Binoche, as well as Best Original Score for none other than the Lebanese composer Gabriel Yared.
Born in Beirut in 1949, Yared was just seven years old when his father sent him to an accordion teacher to take lessons. Two years later, Yared stopped his accordion lessons and started music theory and piano lessons. Although he was not necessarily a gifted pianist, Yared was interested in reading music.
When he was 14, his piano teacher passed away and Yared replaced him as the organist of Université Saint-Joseph in Beirut. He used the university’s library to read the works of Johann Sebastian Bach, Robert Schumann, and many other composers. This extensive reading inspired his first original composition, a piano waltz.
Yared gained a degree in law and did not formally study music at the university level until he traveled to France in 1969 to attend the École Normale de Musique de Paris as a non-registered student. There, he learned the rules of music composition from Henri Dutilleux.
At the end of 1971, Yared went to Brazil to visit his uncle and was asked by the president of the World Federation of Light Music Festivals to write a song to represent the Lebanese in the Rio de Janeiro Song Festival.
The song he composed went on to win first prize. While in Brazil, he also performed with a small orchestra. Yared subsequently said that his time in Brazil greatly influenced his work.
In 1975, he arranged the album Minacantalucio for the popular Italian singer Mina. He then went back to France, where he met and collaborated with the Costa Brothers, Jacques Dutronc, Françoise Hardy, Charles Aznavour, Mireille Mathieu, and numerous other musicians. This was a prolific period for the composer and he wrote nearly 3,000 pieces over a span of about six years.
Yared is best known for his collaborations with the late Anthony Minghella. His first collaboration with Minghella was the 1996 film The English Patient, which was highly acclaimed and won him an Oscar for Best Original Score.
He composed the scores for all of Minghella’s subsequent films and the music for the television series The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency, co-created by Minghella and Richard Curtis.
Aside from his work with Minghella, Yared scored a number of other films, including Betty Blue (1986), City of Angels (1998), Message in a Bottle (1999), Autumn in New York (2000), The Next Best Thing (2000), Possession (2002), and Bon Voyage (2003).
In 2004, Yared’s score for the film Troy was rejected less than a month before the film’s opening as a result of the poor reception by a test screening audience. The test audience were said to have found Yared’s music too “brassy and bold.”
James Horner, the composer of the scores for such films as Braveheart and Titanic was then hired to create a replacement score in less than four weeks. Noteworthy, Yared created the score to the narrative ballet Raven Girl, which was choreographed to the Royal Ballet by Wayne McGregor after the story by Audrey Niffenegger; as reported by UK news The Guardian.
Yared’s most recent work is on the critically acclaimed film Judy (2019), a biographical drama film about American singer and actress Judy Garland. The film was named one of the Top Ten Independent Films of 2019 by the National Board of Review.
Among his 54 movie music compositions so far, the animated drama movie of Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet (2014) produced by Salma Hayek. In 2016, he was celebrated with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the 13th Dubai International Film Festival.
Just last month, Yared was awarded the Golden Ibis at the 6th edition of the Festival du Cinéma et Musique de Film de La Baule in France that ran from November 6th to 11th. Worth mentioning that Gabriel Yared holds also the French citizenship.
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