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Rachel Portman

Rachel Portman

Rachel Portman was born and grew up in Haslemere, Surrey. She began composing at Charterhouse School while studying piano, viola and organ. In 1979 she took up an exhibition to read music at Worcester College, Oxford University. It was during her time at Oxford that she became increasingly interested in writing music for theatre and film. Having written numerous scores for Oxford Playhouse and other student theatre productions, she composed the music for Privileged, the first film ever made about Oxford students by the students themselves. The film attracted a great deal of attention and was released theatrically worldwide.

After leaving Oxford, Rachel was offered her first professional job by David Puttnam, who asked her to rescore a Channel Four first love film called Experience Preferred But Not Essential. Following its success, a string of dramas and films for BBC and Channel Four Television followed, including Mike Leigh's Four Days in July, Shoot to Kill (the winner of the best TV Theme for Movie of the Week), Precious Bane, Jim Henson's Storyteller, Ethan Frome, the BAFTA award-winning Oranges are not the Only Fruit, and The Falklands War. This proved to be an invaluable period; Rachel gained a wealth of experience working with some of the best English directors and producers of our time.

In 1990 she wrote the score for Mike Leigh's acclaimed feature film Life is Sweet, shortly followed by Charles Sturridge's Where Angels Fear To Tread. In 1992 she broke into American feature films with Used People, directed by Beeban Kidron. Following up with films such as Benny and Joon, The Joy Luck Club, Sirens, The War of the Buttons and Only You by 1994 firmly established her success and popularity. Her recent scores include Smoke, directed by Wayne Wang; To Wong Foo..., by Beeban Kidron; Marvin's Room, by Jerry Zaks; Addicted to Love, by Griffin Dunne; Palookaville, produced by her husband Uberto Pasolini; and Emma, directed by Doug McGrath, for which she won an Academy Award in 1997.

Rachel's 1998 scores include Home Fries, directed by Dean Parisot and starring Drew Barrymore; Beloved, directed by Jonathan Demme and starring Oprah Winfrey; and The Other Sister, directed by Gary Marshall.

In 1999 she wrote the score for John Irving's adaptation of his novel The Cider House Rules directed by Lasse Hallstrom, which was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Score. Rachel was also nominated for a Grammy and an Ivor Novello Award for this film. She won the Flanders International Film Festival Award 1999 for Ratcatcher, directed by Lynne Ramsay. Another film released this year was The Closer You Get, directed by Aileen Ritchie and produced by Uberto Pasolini.

In 2000 Rachel wrote the score for The Legend of Bagger Vance directed by Robert Redford. Later that year, Rachel teamed up again with Lasse Hallstrom, this time for Joanne Harris' adapted novel of Chocolat. For this Rachel was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Original Score, and again nominated for an Academy Award.

Rachel lives in London, with her husband and three daughters, and works between London, New York and Los Angeles.


Note: This profile was written in or before 2002.

Rachel Portman Facts

Birth NameRachel M. Portman
OccupationComposer
BirthdayDecember 11, 1960 (56)
SignSagittarius
BirthplaceHaslemere, England, United Kingdom

Selected Filmography

My Blueberry Nights
New York, I Love You
Lights! Action! Music!
Blu-ray Love & Marriage 3-pk Bundle
Black Swan & The Wrestler Blu Ray 2 Pack Darren Aronofsky Double Feature Movie Set
Across the Universe / The Other Boleyn Girl
Rites of Passage 3 Pack
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