Maurice Jarre wrote the central musical motif of his score for Doctor Zhivago, "Lara's Theme," in a few minutes in a hotel, amid a frantic five-week rush to score the 197-minute movie. That theme made the Doctor Zhivago soundtrack album one of the biggest selling soundtrack of the 1960s, a considerable feat when one reckons in the competition from A Hard Day's Night, Never on Sunday, A Man and a Woman, Exodus, and 2001: A Space Odyssey. The rest of Jarre's score is more in the realm of lushly textured Russian-themed mood music, filled with dark male choruses, folk and folk-like themes, and dense orchestrations, sort of faux-Tchaikovsky. The stereo separation is used to good effect, and the music as a whole forms a kind of romantic/exotic travelogue as much as a dramatic sketch of the movie's action. The only drawback is that, given the length of the movie and the relatively short time that Jarre had to compose and record the score, there is a fair amount of repetition (one wishes that Jarre had been as lucky as Miklos Rozsa on Ben-Hur, with nearly a year to work on the music for that epic). The Sony CD was a considerable upgrade over the MGM LP and the mid-'80s MCA CD in both sound and content, adding a large body of incidental and intermission music built on the main themes from the film as well as several variants on "Lara's Theme." It, in turn, was supplanted by Rhino Records' 1995 re-release, which offered somewhat better sound quality and more than a half-dozen outtakes from the score.
AllMusic Review by Bruce Eder