Rachel Portman: Theme from Emma


Rachel Portman wrote the score for the 1996 film Emma and was released in July of the same year by Hollywood Records. Portman commented on the style of the score saying that it was:


“A purely classical score. It is an orchestral piece, by which I mean that there is nothing in it that you wouldn’t find in a symphony orchestra. It was influenced by my roots and my classical background.”


The Romantic-style of the score didn’t go unnoticed by critics who described the score as “underlining period romanticism” and containing “a string-rich romantic sound.” In 1997, Portman became the first woman to win the Academy Award for Best Original Score, with her score for Emma. 


The Music

The richly-orchestrated string-led Theme from Emma presents a colourful kaleidoscope of textures and harmonies. The gentle melody flows through the string section before a sweet duet between the strings and trumpet soar above the rich textures below. The atmosphere is serene and even in the climax of the theme the character is still very grounded within the orchestra. As Portman moves the harmonic sequences she creates these colourful nuanced dissonances that resonate within the ensemble. This is especially prevalent in the climax section and towards the end of the theme. Theme from Emma concludes quietly and calmly.


Ⓒ Alex Burns

Happy Reading!

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