Lawrence of Arabia

Musical Score By: Maurice Jarre

Performed By: The City of Prague Philharmonic Orchetra

Distributed by: Silva Screen Records

Reviewed by Melissa Minners


                Lawrence of Arabia is a 1962 British epic film based on the life of British Army Officer T.E. Lawrence.  The movie starred a number of high profile actors with Peter O'Toole in the role of Lawrence performing alongside Alec Guinness, Anthony Quinn, Omar Sharif, Josť Ferrer and more.  The movie was a huge success and won several awards, including seven Academy Awards, including one for Best Substantially Original Score.  In August 2012, Silva Screen Records released a special two-CD Collector's Edition and a twenty-song MP3 edition of the score of Lawrence of Arabia.  I was offered the opportunity to review the MP3 downloadable edition.

                The musical score of Lawrence of Arabia was created by French composer and conductor Maurice Jarre, who was given only six weeks to complete the project.  Jarre's musical career began when he dropped out of the Sorbonne against his father's will, where he studied engineering, and registered at the Conservatoire de Paris to study composition and harmony.  He recorded his first film score in France in 1951.  Until his death in 2009, Maurice Jarre composed a number of musical scores for film, earning eight Academy Award nominations and three wins.  Among his most notable musical scores are Lawrence of Arabia, Doctor Zhivago, A Passage to India, Witness and Dead Poets Society.

                The music of Lawrence of Arabia was originally performed by the London Philharmonic Orchestra.  The Collector's Edition of the Lawrence of Arabia Soundtrack features, for the first time, the entire score created for the film performed by The City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra.  The MP3 version features twenty tracks and over an hour and fifteen minutes worth of music.  The musical score of Lawrence of Arabia was never released on CD prior to this release.   

                The score of Lawrence of Arabia features a central theme upon which all of the music revolves.  That theme, meant to represent Lawrence has a Middle Eastern style performed via strings and horns with an undercurrent of deep percussion (perhaps Timpani Drums).  That one centralized theme is the most recognizable part of the score for me, someone who has never watched the movie, but always admired the epic sound of the portions of the film's score I have heard in the past.  Listening to the Collector's Edition of the Lawrence of Arabia Soundtrack, one can imagine a swashbuckling hero engaging in perilous adventures that take him all over the deserts of the Middle East.  Much of the musical score speaks of heroism and adventure, though there are a couple of tracks that offer a quieter, more somber tone.

                I find it hard to believe that the complete musical score of Lawrence of Arabia was never before released in CD or MP3 format.  This is classic music from the Golden Age of film and a template for other epic movies that followed.  The Lawrence of Arabia Soundtrack is a definite must listen for anyone interested in film scoring and musical scores of that decade.


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