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Overview for Richard Robbins
Richard Robbins

Richard Robbins


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Also Known As: Died: November 7, 2012
Born: December 4, 1940 Cause of Death: Parkinson's Disease
Birth Place: South Weymouth, Massachusetts, USA Profession: Music ... composer producer director pianist musicologist


Extensively trained composer, pianist and musicologist who, while he was head of the Mannes College of Music, made a documentary short, "Sweet Sounds" (1976), about gifted five year-old music students at the school. This movie initiated Robbins's longtime collaboration with the filmmaking team of Ismail Merchant and James Ivory, who produced the film. He began composing scores for the producing-directing duo shortly thereafter, and his film career has been almost exclusively limited to their dignified historical and literary adaptations.

Robbins's work has, however, encompassed a remarkable range of music, from the delicate mixture of Stephen Foster and Clara Schumann which marked the poignant "The Europeans" (1979) to the opera he composed for "Jane Austen in Manhattan" (1980). "Quartet" (1981) evoked the world of Paris nightclubs, while "Heat and Dust" (1983) was filled with the sounds of India. Robbins won a Venice Film Festival award for the muted romantic music which perfectly complemented the tentative gay love affair between two men in "Maurice" (1987). Similarly supple, melodic compositions won Robbins his first Oscar nominations and added considerable dramatic weight to the increasingly tragic happenings of "Howards End" (1992) and the unconsummated romance of "The Remains of the Day" (1993). He later produced another documentary short, "Street Musicians of Bombay" and can be spotted in Merchant-Ivory's "The Bostonians" (1984) billed as, appropriately, "man turning on music".

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