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Richard Robbins: Composer Was Frequent James Ivory-Ismail Merchant Collaborator

Howards End Emma Thompson Anthony Hopkins
Howards End with Emma Thompson and Anthony Hopkins: Music by Richard Robbins.

‘Howards End’ composer Richard Robbins has died

Richard Robbins, two-time Academy Award-nominated composer and frequent James Ivory-Ismail Merchant collaborator, died on Nov. 7 in Rhinebeck, New York. He was 71.

Richard Robbins movies

Born on Dec. 4, 1940, in South Weymouth, Massachusetts, and trained for a time in Vienna, Richard Robbins began composing scores for feature films in 1979. After having been introduced to Ivory and Merchant by another of the filmmakers’ frequent collaborators, screenwriter Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, Robbins composed the score for The Europeans, a period drama based on Henry James’ novel, and featuring Lee Remick and Lisa Eichhorn.

In the ensuing decades, Robbins would join forces with the Ivory / Merchant team in about 15 other movies, among them Jane Austen in Manhattan (1980), Quartet (1981), Heat and Dust (1983), The Bostonians (1984), A Room with a View (1986), Maurice (1987), Mr. & Mrs. Bridge (1990), Howards End (1992), The Remains of the Day (1993), Le Divorce (2003), and The White Countess (2007). Robbins’ Oscar nominations were for Howards End and The Remains of the Day. Additionally, he received a BAFTA nomination for A Room with a View.

Among the few Richard Robbins scores for movies not directed by James Ivory were those for Simon Callow’s The Ballad of the Sad Cafe (1990), starring Vanessa Redgrave in this film adaptation of an Edward Albee play (Callow, by the way, was featured in several James Ivory productions); Paul Cox’s documentary The Hidden Dimension (1997), narrated by James Garner; and Nicole Garcia’s Place Vendôme (1998), a psychological crime drama starring Catherine Deneuve.

Howards End Emma Thompson Anthony Hopkins picture: Merchant Ivory Productions.

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