Italian composer Dario Marianelli has become one of the biggest draws in Hollywood, most notable for his acclaimed work alongside British film director Joe Wright. Born in Pisa, Marianelli was a young chorister who transferred his talents to playing piano after his voice broke. He studied classical music, composition and counterpoint extensively before moving to England, where his studies continued at the Guildhall School Of Music & Drama and the National Film & Television School. He finally started to build up his reputation when he made a low-key debut in 1994, ramping up the on-screen tension in Irish director Paddy Breathnach's tale of obsession Alisa. Marianelli remained stoic and unphased as it took a full decade of below the radar successes to start gaining mainstream recognition. These included shorts The Funeral Of The Last Gypsy King, The Sheep Thief and art house features such as Breathnach's I Went Down in 1997 and Julian Temple's opium-infused tale of Samuel Coleridge and William Wordsworth Pandaemonium in 2000.
By the early 00s he was scoring mainstream features such as I Capture The Castle (2003) and Terry Gilliam's adventure fantasy The Brothers Grimm (2005), two tense and atmospheric affairs that resonated much further afield. British film producer Paul Webster, who had worked with Marianelli on 2001's The Warrior, introduced him to director Joe Wright, who was subsumed in preparations for his big budget Jane Austen adaptation Pride & Prejudice, set for release in 2006. The first meeting went well. The pair discussed the early piano sonatas of Beethoven, which soon became the starting point for Marianelli's original score. The composer also undertook extensive research, composing centrepieces 'Meryton Townhall' and 'The Militia Marches In' with the film's period specifically in mind, while 'Another Dance' cunningly contained dance cues fitting for the late 18th century. As many of the film's scenes demanded that its actors were seen playing the piano, Marianelli had to complete several of the score's core pieces before filming was underway. They would become the starting point of what developed once filming had wrapped, with the composer eventually deciding to sacrifice total historical correctness in favour of a stirring and emotive telling of Austin's romantic story. The stellar piano performance of Jean-Yves Thibaudet, alongside the English Chamber Orchestra, won Marianelli a nomination for Best Original Score Oscar while he took home the Classical Brit Award for Composer Of The Year.
Marianelli followed this with a wildly different set of sonic materials for 2006's controversial adaptation of Alan Moore's graphic novel V for Vendetta. It saw his stirring strings vying with songs by Julie London, Cat Power and Antony And The Johnsons that were among the blacklisted tracks from the dystopian movie's fictional Ministry Of Objectionable Materials. In 2007 Wright enlisted Marianelli to work on his musical adaptation of Ian McEwan's best selling book Atonement. Arguably one of the most innovative and dramatic scores of recent history, Marianelli resisted the obvious temptation to let his sparkling strings do all the bidding. While lush and emotional themes were initially played by a chamber orchestra, with brilliant leads by his regular pianist Thibaudet and cellist Caroline Dale, Marianelli soon took his score into unchartered waters. The key to the soundtrack rested on his percussive use of an old manual typewriter. It chimed with McEwan's tale of the power of words and the human imagination. From the sudden strum of piano strings, to the sound of a ball thrown against a wall and the tension of a single piano key being repeatedly hit, Marianelli's frequently jarring score kept the audience furiously engaged with the subject matter. However, it was the typewriter that became its central motif, weaving its way throughout in a thoroughly unorthodox fashion. It won its creator his first Oscar and Golden Globe.
While the offers came flooding in with more 00s at the end than Marianelli could previously dream of, he refused to spread himself too thinly, choosing films that appealed to both his personal and populist tastes. These ranged from Alejandro Amenábar's acclaimed Spanish historical drama Agora (2009) to Julia Roberts' global yoga odyssey Eat, Pray, Love (2010), and the latest adaptation of Charlotte Bronte's English romantic drama Jane Eyre (2011). Marianelli introduced a thrillingly sparse note into the later as he dramatically displaced the title character's yearning passion into the keening of a single violin. After breezing his way through an adaptation of Paul Torady's fanciful tale Salmon Fishing In The Yemen with a gossamer lightness of touch, it was time to reunite with Wright. For his adaptation of Leo Tolstoy's 1877's tale of tragic romance Anna Karenina (2012) Marianelli kept the orchestration's focus firmly on the tonal chord progressions and operatic melody lines of the 19th century. It won Academy Award, BAFTA and Golden Globe nominations plus 2013's Ivor Novello Award for Best Original Film Score.
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