John Barry

Biography

Born: November 3, 1933; York, England  
Jonathan Barry Prendergast is one of the world's best-known and most popular film score composers. Aside from those who were also well-known classical composers, he is probably the most notable of all British film composers.

His career was "inherited" from both his mother and father. His mother was a pianist with classical training who saw to it that he got a musical education, playing trumpet and piano. His father owned a
Read more movie theater. John's exposure to films increased when he left school at 15 to work full-time as a projectionist in his father's cinema. By then he was already on the way to deciding definitely to pursue a career in film music.

He joined a local band as trumpet player and was a bandsman during his military service from 1952 to 1955. Meanwhile, he studied with the organist of York Minster (the historic church of York) and by correspondence with American composer/arranger William Russo and with Joseph Schillinger, the theorist-teacher who had also taught George Gershwin compositional technique and form (after Gershwin had already become a famous composer). At this time Barry began arranging for band.

In 1957, he founded John Barry and the Seven, a pop/rock band (later the John Barry Seven) which remained in existence through 1966. One of his most prominent early jobs was as arranger-musical director for the popular British singer Adam Faith. Barry appeared on radio and television, worked as an A&R man for record companies, and in 1959 scored his first film, the rock musical Beat Girl (1959), staring Adam Faith.

In 1962, he was asked to orchestrate and arrange a non-symphonic, "hip" score by composer and band leader Monty Norman, engaged to compose the soundtrack for Dr. No (1962), the first James Bond film.

It was this project that led to Barry's fame, but not without controversy. The single distinctive cue in the soundtrack is the famous "James Bond Theme." It is rumored that the producers were dissatisfied with Norman's James Bond theme and approached Barry directly to "fix" it. Whether Barry composed a theme anew or worked up Norman's theme is the crux of the issue. But contractually Norman is credited with its authorship and has successfully maintained legal actions in court to defend that credit. Barry proponents, however, respond that it is telling that for 11 several subsequent Bond films (including all the classic Sean Connery movies) the producers hired Barry to do the scoring and never Norman. However, it has also been reported that Barry has succeeded in reclaiming authorship of the theme.

The Bond films made Barry famous, and established a personal non-symphonic sound, often orchestrated by Barry himself, that is among the most distinctive personal sounds in film music. Traits of it include a remarkably well-timed ability to "freeze" the harmonies quietly to build suspense, often while melody instruments continue to move slowly. He is notable for his use of the trumpet, the guitar, and the flute in a low register.

But he has gone on to score dozens of movies, and none of his five Academy Awards are for Bond thrillers. They are for the scores of Born Free (1966), The Lion in Winter (1968), Out of Africa (1985), and Dances with Wolves (1990) and for Best Song for Born Free. (He says he wrote the song with the private idea of composing a satire on a Disney animal movie).

Barry has also written successful West End musicals, most notably Billy starring Michael Crawford (1974). Barry moved to California in 1975 and New York in 1980 and lives in Oyster Bay with his wife, Laurie. Read less
Browse 1-25 of 68 Available Recordings
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  • 1.
    A Summer Place /  Amy Dickson
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 304041 Release Date: 08/12/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Max Steiner,  Burt Bacharach,  Michel Legrand,  Paul Desmond  ... 
    Performer:  Amy Dickson,  Vicci Wardman,  Caroline Dale
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  • 2.
    The Golden Age of Light Music: The Composer Conducts, Vol. 3
    Label: Guild   Catalog: 5214 Release Date: 08/12/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Percy Faith,  Rudolf Friml,  Leroy Anderson,  Hal Mooney  ... 
    Conductor:  Percy Faith,  Rudolf Friml,  Leroy Anderson,  Hal Mooney  ... 
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  • 3.
    The Music Of John Barry: The Definitive Collection
    Label: Silva Screen   Catalog: 1445 Release Date: 06/10/2014   Number of Discs: 6
    Composer:  John Barry
    Performer:  The City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra,  Mark Ayres
    Conductor:  Evan Jolly,  Nic Raine,  James Fitzpatrick
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Music Works
    CD: $59.49
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  • 4.
    Itzhak Perlman - Concertos, Sonatas & More
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 5438882 Release Date: 03/25/2014   Number of Discs: 9
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Antonio Vivaldi,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Johannes Brahms  ... 
    Performer:  Isaac Stern,  Itzhak Perlman,  Pinchas Zukerman,  Daniel Barenboim  ... 
    Conductor:  Zubin Mehta,  Erich Leinsdorf,  André Previn,  John T. Williams
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  New York Philharmonic,  Juilliard String Quartet,  Boston Symphony Orchestra  ... 
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  • 5.
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 1104380 Release Date: 12/03/2013   Number of Discs: 4
    Composer:  John Newton,  César Franck,  Ludovico Einaudi,  Franz Schubert  ... 
    Performer:  Il Divo,  The Priests,  Einaudi,  Jonathan & Charlotte  ... 
    On sale! $46.99
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  • 6.
    Movie Legends: The Music Of John Barry
    Label: Royal Philharmonic Orchestra   Catalog: 42 Release Date: 09/24/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  John Barry
    Performer:  Gareth Williams,  Niall Keatley,  Brian Thomson,  Clio Gould  ... 
    Conductor:  Nic Raine,  Paul Bateman,  Tolga Kashif,  Nick Ingman
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  • 7.
    Film Music Gala / Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
    Label: Royal Philharmonic   Catalog: 33 Release Date: 07/30/2013   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Jeremy Sams,  John Barry,  Craig Armstrong,  John T. Williams  ... 
    Performer:  Rolf Wilson,  Brian Thomson,  Paul Bateman,  Tim Gill  ... 
    Conductor:  Christopher Austin,  Paul Bateman,  Debbie Wiseman,  Nigel Hess  ... 
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  • 8.
    Label: Abc Classics   Catalog: 1139364 Release Date: 06/11/2013   Number of Discs: 4
    Composer:  Ennio Morricone,  John T. Williams,  Howard Shore,  Vangelis  ... 
    Performer:  Diana Doherty,  Mark Ayres,  Sally Herbert,  Roger Woodward  ... 
    Conductor:  Mark Summerbell,  Zubin Mehta,  Nic Raine,  Paul Bateman  ... 
    On sale! $75.99
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  • 9.
    100 Greatest Film Themes, Take 3
    Label: Silva Screen   Catalog: 1398 Release Date: 05/07/2013   Number of Discs: 6
    Composer:  Marvin Hatley,  Charles Chaplin,  Frank Churchill,  Paul Dukas  ... 
    Performer:  Keith Ferreira,  David Shannon,  Helen Hobson,  Emma Kershaw  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Music Works,  The Wire-Haired Terriers Athletic Social Club,  N.Y. Jazz Orchestra
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  • 10.
    Label: Phantom Imports (Italy)   Catalog: 8015552 Release Date: 03/22/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Quincy Jones,  Carlos Gardel,  Michel Legrand,  Luis Enriquez Bacalov  ... 
    Performer:  Itzhak Perlman
    Conductor:  John T. Williams
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra
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  • 11.
    James Bond Themes, Vol. 7
    Label: The Store For Music   Catalog: 1 Release Date: 02/12/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Monty Norman,  Jeffrey Cohen,  John Barry,  Michel Legrand  ... 
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  • 12.
    Bond For Orchestra
    Label: Carl Davis Collect   Catalog: 21 Release Date: 01/29/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  John Barry,  David Arnold,  Paul McCartney,  Bill Conti  ... 
    Performer:  Ian Thomas,  Andy Pask,  Andy Vinter,  Adam Goldsmith  ... 
    Conductor:  Carl Davis
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  • 13.
    Epic Movie Music
    Label: Somerset Entertainment   Catalog: 37868 Release Date: 01/01/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  John T. Williams,  John Barry,  Michael Kamen,  Alan Silvestri  ... 
    Conductor:  Yuri Sazonoff,  Konstantin Krimets
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  • 14.
    A Time For Us / Dubeau, La Pieta
    Label: Analekta   Catalog: 28736 Release Date: 11/27/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Nino Rota,  John T. Williams,  Ennio Morricone,  John Barry  ... 
    Performer:  Angèle Dubeau
    Conductor:  Angèle Dubeau
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  La Pieta
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  • 15.
    Label: Universal Republic   Catalog: 001715402 Release Date: 06/26/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Walter Murphy,  Brian May,  Tim Mercer,  Darius Rucker  ... 
    Performer:  Norah Jones,  Seth MacFarlane,  Daphne,  Rita Coolidge  ... 
    Conductor:  John Barry
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  • 16.
    Alfie Live
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 001688159 Release Date: 06/05/2012  
    Composer:  Stephen Flaherty,  Stephen Sondheim,  Andrew Lloyd Webber,  Richard M. Sherman  ... 
    Performer:  Alfie Boe,  Tom Mcfly,  Shakaira,  Claude-Michel Schönberg
    Blu-ray Video: $25.99
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  • 17.
    Alfie Live / Alfie Boe
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 001688009 Release Date: 06/05/2012  
    Composer:  Stephen Flaherty,  Stephen Sondheim,  Andrew Lloyd Webber,  Richard M. Sherman  ... 
    Performer:  Alfie Boe,  Tom Mcfly,  Shakaira,  Claude-Michel Schönberg
    DVD: $24.99
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  • 18.
    Label: Abc Classics   Catalog: 4764879 Release Date: 04/10/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Steven Baker,  Walter Kent,  Vangelis,  Frederick E. Weatherly  ... 
    Performer:  Steven Baker,  Laura Wright,  Fridrik "Frizzy" Karlsson,  Lincoln Jean-Marie  ... 
    Conductor:  Richard Hein
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  • 19.
    Cinema Serenade [k2hd]
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 7332 Release Date: 03/20/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Quincy Jones,  Carlos Gardel,  Michel Legrand,  Luis Enriquez Bacalov  ... 
    Performer:  Itzhak Perlman
    Conductor:  John T. Williams
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  • 20.
    The Fabulous Film Themes [3 CD Set]
    Label: United Multimedia   Catalog: 63242 Release Date: 03/06/2012   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Henry Mancini,  Leonard Bernstein,  Francis Lai,  Leonard Rosenman  ... 
    Performer:  London Studio Orchestra
    CD: $10.99
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  • 21.
    A Time For Us / Dubeau, La Pieta [Bilingual]
    Label: Analekta   Catalog: 28733 Release Date: 02/28/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Nino Rota,  John T. Williams,  Ennio Morricone,  John Barry  ... 
    Performer:  Angèle Dubeau
    Conductor:  Angèle Dubeau
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  La Pieta
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  • 22.
    Classic Love At The Movies
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 001584002 Release Date: 08/09/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  James Horner,  Buffy Sainte-Marie / Jack,  John Barry,  Herman Hupfeld  ... 
    Conductor:  Nick Ingman,  John T. Williams,  Gianandrea Gavazzeni
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  • 23.
    Best Film 50
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 31673 Release Date: 10/12/2010   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Richard Strauss,  Richard Wagner,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  James Horner  ... 
    Performer:  Ernest Blanc,  Nicolai Gedda,  Gérard Caussé,  Augustin Dumay  ... 
    Conductor:  Klaus Tennstedt,  Mariss Jansons,  Richard Hickox,  David Abel  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Philharmonic Orchestra,  Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra,  London Symphony Chorus  ... 
    CD: $11.99
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  • 24.
    Label: Silva Screen   Catalog: 1309 Release Date: 07/13/2010   Number of Discs: 6
    Composer:  Pete Moore,  Bernard Herrmann,  David Raksin,  Henry Mancini  ... 
    Performer:  Gareth Williams,  Mark Ayres
    Conductor:  Evan Jolly,  Paul Bateman,  Nic Raine,  Bill Ashton  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Ensemble
    CD: $59.49
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  • 25.
    Voyage
    Label: Nimbus   Catalog: 6118 Release Date: 06/08/2010   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Leroy Anderson,  Niccolò Paganini,  Frédéric Chopin,  Traditional  ... 
    Performer:  Emma Johnson,  John Lenehan,  Rolf Wilson
    Conductor:  Julian Reynolds
    On sale! $16.49
    CD: $13.99
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