Thanks to those nice people at the CounterPOINT blog, news reaches us of the death of composer John Barry at age 77. Barry will be remembered not just for effectively creating the ‘sound’ of the James Bond films in the 1960s (not least for his arrangement of Monty Norman’s ‘The James Bond theme”) and his Oscar-winning songs and score for Born Free (1966), The Lion in Winter (1968), Out of Africa (1985) and Dances with Wolves (1990) but also for several classic TV theme tunes (best of all perhaps being The Persuaders).
He was enormously prolific and incredibly popular so that a vast amount of his output is easily available on CD – I would rate his collaboration with trumpeter Chris Botti in Playing By Heart, with its reference back to Chet Baker, as a personal favourite of his albums from his later years though his Beyondness of Things album is probably the stand-alone, non-film work for which he will be best remembered by avid listeners of Classic FM.
Barry can be seen on-screen conducting his Concerto for guitar from the film Deadfall (1968), the last of his many fine collaborations with writer and director Bryan Forbes. It has been posted over at YouTube in two parts (below) – it is a rare example of a specially composed piece of music being integrated into the plot and editing structure of a movie, inevitably reminiscent of Barnard Herrmann’s conducting of the Arthur Benjamin ‘Storm Cloud Cantata’ in Hitchcock’s The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956) but much more extensive in its treatment here. It is well worth spending 20 minutes listening to the Rodrigo-inspired music and then another 20 minutes to see quite how successfully music, image and plot are integrated.