Trevor Jones

born on 23/3/1949 in Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa

Trevor Jones (composer)

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Trevor Jones (composer)

Trevor Alfred Charles Jones (born 23 March 1949) is a South African orchestral film score composer. Although not especially well known outside the film world, he has composed for numerous films and his music has been critically acclaimed for both its depth and emotion.


At the age of five, Jones already had decided to become a film composer. In 1967 he attended the Royal Academy of Music in London with a scholarship and afterwards worked for five years for the BBC on reviews of radio and television music. In 1974 Jones attended the University of York from which he graduated with a Masters Degree in Film and Media Music. At the National Film and Television School Jones studied for three years on general film-making and film and sound techniques. During this time he wrote the music for twenty-two student projects. In 1981 Jones wrote the score for the Academy award-winning short movie "The Dollar Bottom" and for the short "The Black Angel".

Jones was soon after brought to the attention of John Boorman, who was in the midst of making his Arthurian epic, Excalibur (1981). Although mostly tracked with classical music by Richard Wagner and Carl Orff, Boorman also needed original dramatic cues (as well as period music) for certain scenes. Given Excalibur's modest budget, a "name" composer was out of the question, so Boorman commissioned the up-and-coming young Jones.

Excalibur brought Jones to the attention of Jim Henson, who was making The Dark Crystal (1982), and looking for a composer who was young and eager to work in the experimental, free-wheeling way which Henson preferred. The resultant score is an expansive, multi-faceted work, featuring the London Symphony Orchestra, augmented by inventive use of Fairlight and Synclavier synthesizers, as well as period instruments like crumhorn, recorder, and the unusual double-flageolet, which Jones came across by chance in a music store.

Jones followed Excalibur with scores for films like The Sender (1982) and the pirate adventure Nate and Hayes (1983). In 1985 Jones composed one of his best scores, for the acclaimed television production The Last Place on Earth.

Jones reunited with Henson for the 1986 fantasy musical Labyrinth. David Bowie wrote and performed the vocal tracks for this movie, including the hit "Underground", while Jones provided the dramatic score.

Reflecting that his complex, symphonic score for The Dark Crystal garnered little notice, Jones began to re-think his entire approach to dramatic scoring. Around the mid-80s, Jones' work became more electronic-based (much like fellow film composer Maurice Jarre), eschewing identifiable themes in favor of mood-enhancing synth chords and minimalist patterns. While he did write a somber, chamber orchestra score in 1988 for Dominick and Eugene (which featured classical guitarist John Williams), scores like Angel Heart (1987), Mississippi Burning (1988) and Sea of Love (1989) are more typical of Jones' output during this period.

Jones' return to large-orchestra scoring came with 1990s Arachnophobia, and he provided a light-hearted Georges Delerue-flavoured score for Blame it on the Bellboy in 1992.

Jones' most popular success came later in 1992 with his score for The Last of the Mohicans, and his soaring, passionate music belies the difficulties which afflicted its creation. Director Michael Mann initially asked Jones to provide an electronic score for the film, but late in the game, it was decided an orchestral score would be more appropriate for this historic epic. Jones hurried to re-fashion the score for orchestra in the limited time left, while the constant re-cutting of the film meant music cues sometimes had to be rewritten several times to keep-up with the new timings. Finally, with the release date looming, composer Randy Edelman was called-in to score some minor scenes which Jones did not have time to do. Jones and Edelman received co-credit on the film (thus making this very popular and acclaimed score ineligible for Oscar consideration). Although all were displeased with the circumstances, Jones was not fired from the film despite reports to the contrary.

Jones became active in television in the 90s, with orchestral scores for several Hallmark productions, including Gulliver's Travels, Merlin and Cleopatra. He also provided a fun, jazzy, 30s-style score for Richard III (1995), which features a swing-band setting of Christopher Marlowe's The Passionate Shepherd to His Love. In 1997 Jones worked for the first time with acclaimed director Ridley Scott, providing an electronic/orchestral/rock-flavoured soundtrack for G.I. Jane (1997).


  • Time Bandits (1981)
  • Excalibur (1981)
  • The Dark Crystal (1982)
  • Runaway Train (1985)
  • Labyrinth (1986) and soundtrack Labyrinth
  • Angel Heart (1987)
  • Mississippi Burning (1988)
  • Sea of Love (1989)
  • By Dawn's Early Light (1990) (TV)
  • Arachnophobia (1990)
  • Bad Influence (1990)
  • Freejack (1992)
  • The Last of the Mohicans (1992) and soundtrack The Last of the Mohicans
  • Cliffhanger (1993)
  • Death Train (1993)
  • In the Name of the Father (1993)
  • Kiss of Death (1995)
  • Richard III (1995)
  • Gulliver's Travels (1996) (TV)
  • Loch Ness (1996)
  • Brassed Off (1997)
  • G.I. Jane (1997)
  • Lawn Dogs (1997)
  • Desperate Measures (1998)
  • Dark City (1998)
  • Merlin (1998) (TV)
  • The Mighty (1998)
  • Notting Hill (1999)
  • Cleopatra (1999) (TV)
  • Thirteen Days (2000)
  • From Hell (2001)
  • Dinotopia (2002) (TV miniseries)
  • The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (2003)
  • Around the World in 80 Days (2004)

Selected bibliography

  • Cooper, David, Christopher Fox & Ian Sapiro (eds.), CineMusic? Constructing the Film Score, Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2008. Book page on publisher's website
  • Sapiro, Ian & David Cooper, "Spotting, Scoring, Soundtrack: The Evolution of Trevor Jones's Score for Sea of Love", 17-32 in CineMusic? Constructing the Film Score, edited by David Cooper, Christopher Fox & Ian Sapiro. Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2008.

External links

  • Official website
  • Trevor Jones at the Internet Movie Database
This page was last modified 12.07.2013 14:52:28

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