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

in Daily Programme

by Elrik Merlin on Tuesday, 1 February, 2011

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)

{ 0 comments… add one now }

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: