British composer Rachel Portman was the first female composer to win an Academy Award, which she received for the score of Emma. She has received two further Academy nominations for The Cider House Rules and Chocolat, which also earned her a Golden Globe nomination, and an EMMY Award in 2015 for her score to HBO’s Bessie.
Rachel began composing at the age of 14 and read music at Oxford University. Whilst there, she became interested in writing music for student films and theatre productions. She gained experience writing music for drama in BBC and Channel 4 films such as Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit, Mike Leigh’s Four Days In July and Jim Henson’s Storyteller series, however the majority of her work has been in film.
She has been fortunate to work with directors Roman Polanski (Oliver Twist), Norman Jewison (Only You), Jonathan Demme (Beloved, Truth About Charlie, Manchurian Candidate), Robert Redford (Legend of Bagger Vance), Mike Leigh (Life is Sweet), as well as countless others. Her list of film scores includes Never Let Me Go, Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, Grey Gardens (HBO), The Duchess, Infamous, Lake House, Hart’s War, Human Stain, Marvin’s Room, Benny and Joon, Joy Luck Club, Smoke, Nicholas Nickleby and Where Angels Fear to Tread.
In addition to her film, TV and theatre scores, she has written a musical of Little House on the Prairie, an opera of Saint Exupery’s The Little Prince for Houston Grand Opera, and The Water Diviner, a dramatic choral symphony commissioned for the BBC Proms concerts.
Rachel was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2010 New Year Honours.
• Academy Award for Best Original Musical Comedy Score 1996 – EMMA
• Academy Award Nomination for Best Original Score 1999 – THE CIDER HOUSE RULES
• Academy Award Nomination for Best Original Score 2000 – CHOCOLAT
• Golden Globe Nomination for Best Original Score 2000 – CHOCOLAT
• Emmy Award for Outstanding Music Composition 2015 – BESSIE
• Emmy Nomination for Outstanding Music Composition 2009 – GREY GARDENS