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Fri Nov 23, 2012, 09:11 AM

Film composer Richard Robbins ("A Room with a View," "Maurice") dies at age 71.

Duplicating my post from the Classic Films group:

Though perhaps not as frequently mentioned as director James Ivory, producer Ismail Merchant, or screenwriter Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, Richard Robbins was a key part of the team behind the Merchant-Ivory films.

Mr. Robbins is survived by his longtime partner, the artist Michael Schell.

From the L.A. Times:


Robbins created the score for nearly every Merchant Ivory film from "The Europeans" in 1979 to "The White Countess" in 2005. He earned back-to-back Academy Award nominations for his original music for "Howards End" (1992) and "The Remains of the Day" (1993).


Of the melancholy, evocative score for "The Remains of the Day," Robbins said in a 2000 interview with writer Chris Terrio that his inspiration had come from a single scene featuring actress Emma Thompson.

"I know when ... the hard part of writing the score is over, because I know how I feel about a character," he said in the interview posted on the Merchant Ivory website. "That's a great relief. That can happen all at once: It can be as simple as watching one of the characters enter a room or walk down a hallway. In 'The Remains of the Day,' it happened when I first saw the shot of Emma Thompson walking down the hall toward the camera. That did it."

From the Guardian:


Although mostly influenced by the minimalist compositions of Philip Glass, Robbins was capable of producing the sumptuous, colourfully orchestrated, symphonic music, just the right side of sentimentality, for Maurice (1987), which won the best score at the Venice film festival. It remained Robbins's own favourite among his scores.

Robbins music ranged from a jazzy foxtrot for Quartet (1981), and Indian themes in Heat and Dust (1983), to the jauntily percussive soundtrack for Mr and Mrs Bridge (1990), modern-sounding classicism for Jefferson in Paris (1995) and Richard Straussian tones for The Golden Bowl (2000).

As music director, he also had to select music that the characters would have listened to, contributing to the mood of the film. "The pieces give us additional information about the characters," Robbins explained. "The works of Beethoven and Schubert were once part of people's daily musical landscape, as surprising as that may seem today."

Naturally, Beethoven's 5th Symphony, given EM Forster's famous description of it in the novel, featured in Howards End (1992), as did the Franz Schubert song Sei mir gegrüst, o Mai in The Remains of the Day (1993), though both films gained Oscar nominations for Robbins for best original score. He also permitted Puccini's aria, O mio babbino caro, to dominate the rapturous scenes in A Room With a View (1985), and pop songs by musicians including Ziggy Marley, Inner City and Iggy Pop for Slaves of New York (1989).

His credits, as per IMDB:


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