Maurice Jarre: Lawrence of Arabia

Maurice Jarre's theme for Lawrence of Arabia immediately whisks you off to expanses of sand and blazing heat

Lawrence of Arabia Peter O'Toole Omar Sharif

Maurice Jarre was not the first choice to score this 1962 wartime desert epic. He wasn't even the second or third choice! Jarre became involved in the film after both William Walton and Malcolm Arnold had proved unavailable. 

Despite this, and the brief six weeks he was given to write the score, Jarre came through with music that perfectly captures director David Lean's vast desert setting and Peter O'Toole's Oscar-winning turn as T. E. Lawrence. 

One of cinema's most famous themes, Jarre's mix of orchestra and exotic percussion evokes the romance of the desert. It earned him an Academy Award and ranked number three on the American Film Institute's top 25 American film scores.

Video: Lawrence of Arabia theme

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Maurice Jarre Composer Maurice Jarre

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Maurice Jarre originally wrote this for synthesizers – because the Amish consider acoustic instruments otherworldly – but – then rearranged it for orchestra, as here.