Born in Beirut and living in France for many years, Gabriel Yared initially studied law before switching to music studies. He has now been composing music for film and stage for some considerable time. Much of his earlier work has been for the French cinema, but more recently he has established his reputation in Hollywood with some noteworthy scores. The "English Patient" is brim full with wistful romantic love melodies which seem to have a life of their own, spanning time across the film's flashbacks. Against the musical accompaniment, some of these scenes have a serene beauty oblivious to the war being waged elsewhere. You'll find some pieces played by Benny Goodman on the soundtrack and Bach's famous "Aria from the Goldberg Variations" is also used to good effect within the film (popular in film, this also features on "Silence of the Lambs"). The English Patient deservedly won an oscar for the composer, and he was to come close again with nominations for "The Talented Mr. Ripley" and "Cold Mountain".
"Betty Blue" (called "37*2 Le Matin" for its original French release) is filled with music from an interesting variety of styles (including instruments such as Sax, Harmonica, Piano, Synth and sound effects), yet it is all unified by some common thematic elements. Yared incorporates an element of jazz into some of his scores, and it's true to say that his style seems to be very intuitive. Although it is not strictly improvised, it does give the impression of being a free-flowing stream of consciousness. Certainly the structure of his pieces is less evident than with other film composers, and that does mean that his scores are intrinsically interesting and a refreshing change.
There have been many occasions where composers have spent a lot of work on a film score only for it to be rejected. One particular such occasion was that Gabriel Yared was to score the film "Troy" and it is reported that he spent a year working on it researching the sounds and instruments which may have been used in those locations during the times that the film was set. Following a pre-screening where comments had been made about the music, Yared's score was rejected and James Horner asked to write a replacement score in 4 or 5 weeks. There had been much speculation in soundtrack fan circles about the "lost score" and speculation about whether it would be recorded one day. Well, it appears that the score has been recorded. Though we have not been able to find it on Amazon it has turned up on YouTube. Use this link to hear a playlist with all the tracks of Yared's Troy.
There is a documentary film about Yared and his film music called "Music by Gabriel Yared", and you can check out our review of Music by Gabriel Yared for more details. It is also good to see Yared's name associated with the recent TV Series "The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency". Yared's music for the film "Interdit aux moins de 13 ans" is also now available on CD, though note that the film is often known by its alternative title "Lucie sur Seine". It is included with Richard Rodney Bennett's L'Imprecateur which was also made by the director Jean-Louis Bertuccelli. See this page on the Music Box Records site for more information. The music is atmospheric and ambient like a relaxed free flow of ideas.
The soundtrack to "City of Angels" is available www.amazon.com in the US and www.amazon.co.uk in the UK. The oscar-winning soundtrack to "The English Patient" is also available from www.amazon.com in the US and www.amazon.co.uk in the UK, and the Sheet Music for the same film (also highly recommended) can be found at SheetMusicPlus. Amoung 10 pieces of music from the film, this includes "The English Patient" main theme, and "Rupert Bear" as well as Bach's "Aria from the Goldberg Variations". Gabriel Yared himself has a web-site at www.gabrielyared.com with more in depth information about his projects past and future, including comments about his work on "Troy" which was wasted when he was replaced by James Horner.