When films with lush art direction, elaborate costumes, and epic cinematography needed a composer to tie everything together with a beautiful tapestry of music, it was Dario Marianelli who often took the call. The Italian master was nominated for an Academy Award in 2005 for "Pride and Prejudice," and won a Golden Globe and Academy Award two years later for his work in the poetic film masterpiece "Atonement" (2007). Aside from his brilliant work in the film, Marianelli also wrote orchestral pieces for the BBC Symphony Orchestra and music for the Royal Shakespeare Company. Further accolades came Marianelli's way for his sweeping compositions featured in the historical epic "Agora" (2009), which was nominated for Spain's Goya Award, and work on such period films as "Jane Eyre" (2011) and "Anna Karenina" (2012). Capable of transporting audiences to the majesty and grandeur of the past, or relating the complex emotions of contemporary society, Marianelli could always be counted on to elevate any film fortunate enough to employ his skill.
Dario Marianelli, who was born in 1963 in Pisa, Italy, began playing piano and singing when he was six years old. His parents, both music lovers, filled their home with classical sounds that eventually shaped the young Marianelli's passion in life. Although piano was his main musical instrument, the future award-winning composer also mastered slide whistle and melody horn, all of which he incorporated into his compositions later in his career. Since there were no music colleges in his native Pisa, Marianelli took private piano lessons, but attended school in nearby cities such as Florence, Lucca and Livorno. His education eventually brought the young musician to England's prestigious Guildhall School of Music and Drama for his post graduate studies, and another three years at the National Film and Television School in London.
The vibrant city of London also gave Marianelli the opportunity to begin his musical career where he started getting unpaid gigs at several small theaters. It did not take long for the Italian to get paid composing for concerts, ballets, and theater productions. When he was just 31, Marianelli was hired to score his first film, Paddy Breathnach's "Alisa" (1994). Six years later, the former choirboy contributed to "Pandaemonium" (2000), a film centered around 19th Century English poets and directed by Julien Temple. Marianelli infused the romantic and revolutionary themes of the film to his score, and the result was equally haunting, fantastical, and breathtaking.
Marianelli's work caught the ears of director Joe Wright, whom he first collaborated with on "Pride and Prejudice." Early works of Ludwig Van Beethoven inspired the Italian composer when he was approached to write music for the film, and that became the starting point of the score. He wrote the theme for the main character, Lizzie Bennet, and it was beautifully incorporated into the plot, where she played it badly in one scene, yet quite extraordinarily by her lover's sister later on in the film. He followed up "Pride and Prejudice" with another critically praised score for "The Brothers Grimm" (2005), a dark 18th century tale about the legendary storytellers from director Terry Gilliam, starring Heath Ledger and Matt Damon. The score was moody and experimental, impeccably timed with the film's fast pace and multi-layered plot.
Character-driven films inspired Marianelli, and the projects he undertook always recognized how music drove the plot, oftentimes, making the characters come to life and leap off the screen. The composer also sought stories with many layers and themes, from the 1930s period piece "I Capture the Castle" (2003), where keyboard sounds flooded the score, to the classical elements of Larry and Andy Wachowski's sci-fi blockbuster "V for Vendetta" (2005).
At home, Marianelli loved to scribble notes at the piano before heading to his private studio in North London. The studio was filled with state-of-the art recording equipment along with various instruments and sound devices. This was where he composed most of his beautiful music for films as well as theater, documentaries, animation, and television. Although heavily influenced by classical music, Marianelli also worked with non-Western sounds and instruments like the sitar. He collaborated with director Preeya Lal on "A Stone on My Heart" (1997), a documentary about the filmmaker's experience being an Indian woman who grew up in a Western culture. He also traveled extensively through the Middle East and Asia, often blending the different sounds and styles into his compositions.
Marianelli returned to form in 2007 with "Atonement," his second film collaboration with director Wright. The WWII romance, based on Ian McEwen's bestselling novel, starred Kieran Knightly and James McIvor as tragic lovers during the late 1930s and through the Dunkirk evacuation of 1940, won that year's Golden Globe for Best Score, as well as his second Academy Award nomination, which he also won. He also composed music for the supernatural thriller "The Return" (2006), the revenge drama "The Brave One" (2007), and "The Soloist" (2008), his third time working with Wright.
After scoring "Everybody's Fine" (2009), a dramatic comedy starring Robert De Niro as a widow making a trip across the country in an effort to reconnect with his adult children, Marianelli crafted the music for the Spanish production "Agora" (2009). An epic film on a grand scale, it starred Rachel Weisz as the 1st century Greek philosopher Hypatia, a scholar whose rejection of Christianity in pursuit of science ultimately ends in her destruction. One of the most ambitious films ever mounted in the country, "Agora" was nominated for several Goya Awards - Spain's equivalent to the Oscar - including one of Marianelli's sweeping score.
Marianelli next provided music for "Eat Pray Love" (2010), an adaptation of the best-selling memoir by Elizabeth Gilbert starring Julia Roberts, then composed the score for director Cary Joji Fukunaga's well-received adaptation of "Jane Eyre" (2011), starring Mia Wasikowska in the title role. Other work that year included a score for director Lasse Hallström's quirky romantic dramedy "Salmon Fishing in the Yemen" (2011), followed by compositions for two anticipated films: director Wright's interpretation of Tolstoy's "Anna Karenina" (2012) with Keira Knightley in the lead, and "Quartet" (2012), a drama about a group of retired opera singers, marking the directorial debut of Dustin Hoffman. For the former film, Marianelli earned Golden Globe and Oscar nods for Best Original Score.