You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Film composer Richard Robbins dies

Oscar nominee composed scores of Merchant Ivory films

Richard Stephen Robbins, who composed the scores for most Merchant Ivory films, drawing two Oscar nominations in the process, died on Nov. 7 in Rhinebeck, N.Y., following a long struggle with Parkinson’s disease. He was 71.

Robbins drew Academy Awards nominations for original score for his work on “Howards End” and “The Remains of the Day.”He composed the score to almost every Merchant Ivory film from “The Europeans” (1979) to 2005’s “The White Countess.” He went on to compose the scores for films including “Heat and Dust,” “Quartet,” “Maurice,” “A Room With a View,” “Mr. & Mrs. Bridge” and “Jefferson in Paris,” utilizing a variety of styles ranging from jazz to the sounds of India.

The composer was introduced to filmmakers Ismail Merchant and James Ivory by Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, the screenwriter behind most of their films, whose daughter he was teaching.

Robbins’ first film work came in “Sweet Sounds,” a documentary about gifted 5-year-old music students, conceived and directed by Robbins and produced by Merchant and Ivory.

Robbins also directed the 1993 documentary “Street Musicians of Bombay” (1993), centering on the street life of Bombay.

In 1994 he collaborated with painter Michael Schell on “Via Crucis,” a musical and visual collage representing the Stations of the Cross.

Robbins’ work was honored at a 1996 benefit concert held at Carnegie Hall and supporting AIDS research.

He was born in South Weymouth, Mass., and began his musical studies at age 5. He graduated from the New England Conservatory and continued his studies in Vienna.

Robbins is survived by his longtime partner, Michael T. Schell; four brothers; and several nieces and nephews.

Contributions may be made to Columbia-Greene Humane Society, 125 Humane Society Road, Hudson, NY 12534.

More Scene

  • J.K. Rowling on the Future of

    J.K. Rowling on the Future of Harry Potter Stories on Stage

    Richard Stephen Robbins, who composed the scores for most Merchant Ivory films, drawing two Oscar nominations in the process, died on Nov. 7 in Rhinebeck, N.Y., following a long struggle with Parkinson’s disease. He was 71. Robbins drew Academy Awards nominations for original score for his work on “Howards End” and “The Remains of the […]

  • Chanel x Tribeca Film Festival Women's

    Chanel's Tribeca Film Fest Luncheon Toasts to Women's Movements in Industry

    Richard Stephen Robbins, who composed the scores for most Merchant Ivory films, drawing two Oscar nominations in the process, died on Nov. 7 in Rhinebeck, N.Y., following a long struggle with Parkinson’s disease. He was 71. Robbins drew Academy Awards nominations for original score for his work on “Howards End” and “The Remains of the […]

  • Doug Davis Power of Law

    Doug Davis Discusses Using Music for a Cause at Variety's Power of Law Event

    Richard Stephen Robbins, who composed the scores for most Merchant Ivory films, drawing two Oscar nominations in the process, died on Nov. 7 in Rhinebeck, N.Y., following a long struggle with Parkinson’s disease. He was 71. Robbins drew Academy Awards nominations for original score for his work on “Howards End” and “The Remains of the […]

  • 'The Handmaid's Tale'

    'The Handmaid's Tale' Cast, Creator Talk Season 2 in #MeToo Era, Expanding Gilead

    Richard Stephen Robbins, who composed the scores for most Merchant Ivory films, drawing two Oscar nominations in the process, died on Nov. 7 in Rhinebeck, N.Y., following a long struggle with Parkinson’s disease. He was 71. Robbins drew Academy Awards nominations for original score for his work on “Howards End” and “The Remains of the […]

  • Pamela Adlon Better Things

    Pamela Adlon: When 'Better Things' 'Stops Being Relatable Is When I Stop Doing My Show'

    Richard Stephen Robbins, who composed the scores for most Merchant Ivory films, drawing two Oscar nominations in the process, died on Nov. 7 in Rhinebeck, N.Y., following a long struggle with Parkinson’s disease. He was 71. Robbins drew Academy Awards nominations for original score for his work on “Howards End” and “The Remains of the […]

  • The Future She Built

    Inventor of the Inclusion Rider Discusses Why the Initiative Is Necessary at Panel

    Richard Stephen Robbins, who composed the scores for most Merchant Ivory films, drawing two Oscar nominations in the process, died on Nov. 7 in Rhinebeck, N.Y., following a long struggle with Parkinson’s disease. He was 71. Robbins drew Academy Awards nominations for original score for his work on “Howards End” and “The Remains of the […]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content