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Rachel Portman

Rachel Portman

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Also Known As: Rachel Mary Berkeley Portman Died:
Born: December 11, 1960 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Haslemere, England, GB Profession: composer

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

One of a handful of contemporary female film composers, Rachel Portman has created lush and colorful scores that enhance or reflect the emotions of the feature's characters. Using minimal cues for effect, she has designed her work to appeal directly to the viewer's sensibilities. Equally at home scoring heavily dramatic motion pictures as well as light romantic comedies, Portman has proven to be adept at compositions that reflect humanity.Raised in England, Portman began her musical education at an early age, trained to play a number of instruments. As she progressed, she became particularly interested in concentrating on composition and orchestrating, creating her first work as a teenager. After completing music studies at Oxford, she landed her first assignment to score the TV-movie "Experience Preferred ... But Not Essential" (1982; released theatrically in the USA in 1983) and entered films with Michael Hoffman's "Privileged" (1982). She subsequently alternated between TV and features, creating melodic scores that do not upstage the screen action.Portman forged a successful collaboration with Beeban Kidron on the feminist telefilms "Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit" (1989), "Antonia and Jane"...

One of a handful of contemporary female film composers, Rachel Portman has created lush and colorful scores that enhance or reflect the emotions of the feature's characters. Using minimal cues for effect, she has designed her work to appeal directly to the viewer's sensibilities. Equally at home scoring heavily dramatic motion pictures as well as light romantic comedies, Portman has proven to be adept at compositions that reflect humanity.

Raised in England, Portman began her musical education at an early age, trained to play a number of instruments. As she progressed, she became particularly interested in concentrating on composition and orchestrating, creating her first work as a teenager. After completing music studies at Oxford, she landed her first assignment to score the TV-movie "Experience Preferred ... But Not Essential" (1982; released theatrically in the USA in 1983) and entered films with Michael Hoffman's "Privileged" (1982). She subsequently alternated between TV and features, creating melodic scores that do not upstage the screen action.

Portman forged a successful collaboration with Beeban Kidron on the feminist telefilms "Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit" (1989), "Antonia and Jane" (1990), and "Great Moments in Aviation" (1993). She subsequently created a jazz-tinged score for Kidron's "Used People" (1992) and the disco-tinged soundtrack for the director's "Too Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar" (1995). Critics praised Portman's score for "Where Angels Fear to Tread" (1991) and "Ethan Frome" (1993), both of which were instrumental in illustrating the frustrations and colors of the central characters. Her bouncy, lively score for "Benny & Joon" (1993) nearly functioned as a separate character in the film, while her quiet compositions for "The Joy Luck Club" (also 1993) highlighted that feature's sadness and tragedies as well as its occasional pleasures. Portman created the background music which reflected the changing moods of the characters in "Marvin's Room" (1996). She earned an Oscar for "Emma" (also 1996), which captured the mischievous qualities of the title heroine. That achievement made Portman the first female composer to win a music Academy Award.

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Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

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Milestones close milestones

:
Began music training as a child
:
Began composing music as a teenager
1982:
Composed first score for the TV-movie, "Experience Preferred ... But Not Essential"; released theatrically in the USA in 1983
1982:
First feature score, "Privileged", directed by Michael Hoffman; first
1987:
Contributed the score for episodes of the NBC drama series "The Storyteller"
1990:
Scored the TV-movies "Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit" and "Antonia and Jane", both directed by Beeban Kidron
1991:
Won acclaim for the music in "Where Angels Fear to Tread"
1992:
Reteamed with Kidron for the jazzy score to "Used People"
1995:
Scored Kidron's "Too Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar"
1996:
Provided the score for "Emma"; became first female to win an Oscar for composing a full musical score (as opposed to working on a song or song score)
1998:
Scored "Beloved"
1999:
Composed the atmospheric and lyric score for "The Cider House Rule"; picked up an Oscar nomination for Best Original Score
2000:
Wrote the jaunty themes for "The Closer You Get"; produced by her husband
2000:
Penned the music for "The Legend of Bagger Vance"
2000:
Wrote the underscore for the motion picture "Chocolat"; received Oscar nomination
2002:
Composed the score for "Hart's War"
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Education

University of Oxford: Oxford , England -
Charterhouse School: -

Notes

"My utter commitment is to write the music that works for the film, not write the music which works for me."--Portman quoted in The Hollywood Reporter, January 1994.

Companions close complete companion listing

husband:
Uberto Pasolini. Survived him.
husband:
Uberto Pasolini. Producer. Married in 1995.

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