From the Library: Movie Magic—A Tribute to John Barry

Today on Radio Riel we present a trib­ute to the mag­nif­i­cent film and tele­vi­sion work of the late John Bar­ry, who passed away last Sun­day. we present a pro­gramme of great themes from the movies and from tele­vi­sion, and in par­tic­u­lar fea­tur­ing the work of John Bar­ry, per­haps best-known for his James Bond music but also for Out of Africa, Danc­ing with Wolves, Some­where in Time and many more evoca­tive pieces. We’ll be play­ing exten­sive selec­tions from his work, along with music from oth­er great film com­posers from Addin­sell to Zim­mer.

John Bar­ry Pren­der­gast was born in York­shire in 1933, the son of a cin­e­ma own­er father and pianist moth­er, so per­haps it was like­ly that he might become involved in the field where music and film over­lap. After ini­tial train­ing as a clas­si­cal pianist he turned to jazz and found­ed the John Bar­ry Sev­en in the late 1950s – the group which backed Adam Faith on some of his hits. He moved into writ­ing for TV com­mer­cials, the most mem­o­rable per­haps being those for Sun­silk Sham­poo, such as The Girl With The Sun In Her Hair, and went on to write TV themes includ­ing as The Per­suaders.

Bar­ry’s first movie work came with Beat Girl in 1960. He came to the atten­tion of the pro­duc­ers of the Bond movies as a result of his pop­u­lar music suc­cess, and his ini­tial arrange­ment of Mon­ty Nor­man’s theme led to his writ­ing scores for 11 movies in the series, of which his music for Goldfin­ger and its theme sung by Shirley Bassey are per­haps the most mem­o­rable. His first Oscar came in 1967 with Born Free’s mem­o­rable score and theme music, and he won fur­ther Oscars for Dances with Wolves, The Lion In Win­ter and Out Of Africa. His most recent film score was 2001’s Enig­ma, about the code­break­ers at Bletch­ley Park. He also received four Gram­mys, as well as receiv­ing BAF­TA and Gold­en Globe awards. His oth­er scores includ­ed Walk­a­bout, The Deep, the evoca­tive Some­where in Time, Body Heat, Jagged Edge, Peg­gy Sue Got Mar­ried, Chap­lin and Cry, the Beloved Coun­try. He also released albums of non-film com­po­si­tions, such as The Beyond­ness Of Things (1999). John Bar­ry was made a Free­man of the City of York in 2002.

Bar­ry’s musi­cal trade­mark was his use of deep, swelling chords on strings, brass and wood­winds: as a result you could always tell a John Bar­ry piece a mile off, but each was always evoca­tive and dif­fer­ent. His death marks a great loss to both music and film.

Today’s pro­gramme is pre­sent­ed by Elrik Mer­lin and pro­duced by Radio Riel in con­junc­tion with our friends at the Alexan­dri­an Free Library Con­sor­tium of Sec­ond Life. You can lis­ten to the pro­gramme in-world now at, or sim­ply click here to start your play­er, if your brows­er is con­fig­ured to do so. Lis­ten­ers in the Unit­ed States are encour­aged to tune in using this link:

For more infor­ma­tion on the Alexan­dri­an Free Library, cur­rent exhibits and the work of Con­sor­tium mem­bers in gen­er­al, please vis­it the Alexan­dri­an Free Library web­site, or one of their branch­es in-world.

Image: John Bar­ry In Con­cert — John Bar­ry & Paul Bate­man at the Roy­al Albert Hall, 2006 by Geoff Leonard (Wiki­me­dia Com­mons)

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