British composer Rachel Portman became the first female composer to win an Academy Award, which she received for the score of Emma.

She was also the first female composer to win a Primetime Emmy Award, which she received for the film, Bessie.

She has received two further Academy Nominations for The Cider House Rules and Chocolat, which also earned her a Golden Globe Nomination.

She has written stage and concert works, among them commissions from the BBC Proms and Houston Grand Opera.

Rachel was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 2010 and is an honorary fellow of Worcester College, Oxford.


Rachel has written over 100 scores for film, television and theatre, including Manchurian Candidate (Jonathan Demme), Oliver Twist (Roman Polanski), Hart’s War (Greg Hoblit), Only You (Norman Jewison), The Legend of Bagger Vance (Robert Redford), Beloved (Jonathan Demme), Benny and Joon (Jeremiah Chechik), Life is Sweet (Mike Leigh), Never Let Me Go (Mark Romanek), Grey Gardens (Michael Sucsy), The Duchess (Saul Dibb), One Day (Lone Scherfig), The Vow (Michael Sucsy), Snow Flower and the Secret Fan (Wayne Wang), The Lake House (Alejandro Agresti), Infamous (Douglas McGrath), Mona Lisa Smile (Mike Newell), Human Stain (Robert Benton), Chocolat (Lasse Hallstrom), Cider House Rules (Lasse Hallstrom), Belle (Amma Asante), Dolphin Tale 2 (Charles Martin Smith), Bessie (Dee Rees), and Race (Stephen Hopkins).


Besides a hugely successful career as a film composer, Rachel has written music for symphony orchestra as well as stage works in the neighbouring arts. Her opera based on Saint Exupery’s The Little Prince was written for Houston Grand Opera in 2003. Since then it has received performances in Washington, San Francisco, Lisbon, Istanbul and New York. In 2008 she worked with director Francesca Zambello on a music based on The Little House on the Prairie. For the BBC Proms, along with award winning poet Owen Sheers, she was commissioned to write The Water Diviner’s Tale, a dramatic choral symphony addressing climate change. Endangered, performed at the World Environment Day Concert in 2012, was commissioned by the National Centre for the Performing Arts, Beijing. In 2014 she collaborated with acclaimed author Michael Morpurgo and the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra and youth chorus to write the Christmas Carol We were there.


Academy Award,

Best Original Musical Comedy Score 1996 - EMMA

Primetime Emmy Award

Outstanding Music Composition For A Limited Series, Movie Or A Special (Original Dramatic Score) 2015 – BESSIE

BMI Film and TV Awards

BMI Career Achievement Award 2010


Academy Award Nominations

Best Original Score 2000 - CHOCOLAT

Best Original Score 1999 - THE CIDER HOUSE RULES

Bafta Award Nominations


Best Score 1990 - THE WOMAN IN BLACK

Golden Globe Nominations

Best Original Score 2000 - CHOCOLAT

Grammy Nominations

Best Score Soundtrack Album 2001 - CHOCOLAT

Best Score Soundtrack Album 2000 - THE CIDER HOUSE RULES

Primetime Emmy Award Nominations

Outstanding Music Composition 2009 - GREY GARDENS

Outstanding Music Direction 2005 - THE LITTLE PRINCE

Muse Award From the New York Women in Film and Television 2000

Flanders International Film Festival Award 1999 - RATCATCHER

British Film Institute Young Composer of the Year 1988