John Barry



From SCL President Dan Foliart:

We were saddened to learn of the passing of the legendary composer, and longtime member, John Barry.  Over the past few years The Society of Composers and Lyricists had been trying to find a place in his schedule to celebrate his distinguished career.  As I told him in our invitation, ”it is an understatement to say that you have composed some of the most beautiful music of our time.”

From the charming, “Wednesday’s Child” and inspirational “Born Free,” early in his career to the maturity of “Somewhere in Time” and “Out of Africa,” John demonstrated a gift for melody that captured the essence of every project he brought his talent to, and he captivated us along the way.

John leaves as his legacy his iconic scoring of numerous James Bond films and his immediately recognizable brass textures that in no small way, added to the huge success of these films and countless others such as “Midnight Cowboy” and “Dances with Wolves.” I can think of no composer that demonstrated more fully what the magic of music in film can accomplish.

On a personal note, I remember as a college student having the rare pleasure of running into him on the Warner Brother’s lot. His grace and elegance was immediately apparent, as he gave me conducting tips and invited me in for a tour of Emil Richards’ massive percussion set-up for “King Kong,” which he was in the middle of scoring. This generosity of time spoke so much about the wonderful man that many of us had the pleasure to know. Our profession will be better for having known John Barry.



Born November 3, 1933 in York, England

Died January 30, 2011 at home, Oyster Bay, NY

For film music news details on John Barry, go to:

— article by music historian/journalist Jon Burlingame

— includes wonderful film clip of him conducting at London performance