jeudi, février 01, 2007

Georges DELERUE: le cineaste Harry Kumel se souvient de MALPERTUIS

Tout récemment, j'ai contacté le cinéaste Harry Kümel afin de recueillir son témoignage sur la partition composée et dirigée par Georges Delerue pour son film MALPERTUIS.

Voici les souvenirs qu'il m'a confiés:

"Mon choix s'est porté sur Delerue parce que, à l'époque, il était parmi les meilleurs, sinon le meilleur compositeur pour le cinéma qu'on puisse trouver. Et, bien évidemment, quelqu'un qui serait à même de fournir une partition intelligente pour le film assez compliqué au niveau structurel qu'était Malpertuis. J'ai eu le bonheur de pouvoir le faire engager, parce que le film était, en partie, une co-production avec la France, et qu'il fallait "remplir" certaines fonctions (et non des moindres) avec des collaborateurs français.

(...) Je n'ai pas beaucoup de souvenirs, sauf une grande joie en entendant la partition pour la première fois. Je me souviens d'avoir, entre autre, demandé à Georges de me fournir une parodie de la musique, si j'ose dire, 'romantique legato' qu'on attendait d'habitude de lui, pour souligner la "fausseté" relative des scènes d'amour entre Nancy et Mathias Crook. Il s'est exécuté avec beaucoup de plaisir car, disait-il, il avait des tiroirs pleins de ces 'rengaines'. Et autant pour les Godard ou Truffaut, qui, peu mélomanes qu'ils étaient, affectionnaient ce genre de sirop. Mais nous avons surtout parlé de structure musicale et même sans avoir une oreille musicale développée, on peut reconnaître les leitmotivs, thèmes et harmonies qui façonnent l'ensemble. Georges était particulièrement fier du gros morceau vers la résolution accompagnant le "déchaînement" des habitants de Malpertuis. Il avait à sa disposition un très grand orchestre (on enregistrait au Théâtre des Champs-Élysée, Avenue Montaigne, Paris, où de nombreuses bande sonores pour films ont été enregistrés). Mais il avait imaginé une façon de concerto pour orgue, et cet instrument solo se trouvait relié en duplex ... à l'église de la Madeleine. Car, croyez-le ou non, cela s'est enregistré simultanément! Encore une anecdote: j'avais imaginé pour la musique sortant du gramophone à rouleau d'utiliser, et ce pour d'évidentes raisons, un air d'Offenbach provenant de "La belle Hélène", qui s'appelle "Ce n'est qu'un rêve - un beau rêve d'amour!". Or, au moment où on terminait le montage (de la première et mauvaise version), et qu'on allait passer au mixage, ne voilà-t-il pas que les héritiers d'Offenbach s'opposait à cette utilisation - malgré que ce soit une musique en domaine public! On aurait pu avoir gain de cause, mais cela aurait demandé beaucoup de temps, que nous n'avions pas. Eh bien! en deux temps trois mouvements, le scénariste Jean Ferry écrit quelques refrains et couplets calqués sur Offenbach, et Georges composa une musique en moins d'une heure, qu'on se dépêcha d'enregistrer immédiatement, chez lui, avec chanteurs et petit orchestre qu'il avait réussi à dégoter je ne sais où!

Quel maître, quel artiste, et surtout quelle modestie! Vous savez que Malpertuis n'a pas eu beaucoup de succès à sa sortie. Lorsque je revis Georges quelques années plus tard à Hollywood (où il était allé habiter), je m'excusai auprès de lui en disant que cela n'avait pas du lui rapporter grand'chose (en France, les revenus des compositeurs sont principalement formés par les droits d'auteur). Georges me répliqua qu'il s'en fichait, qu'il avait suffisamment de films "qui rapportait ferme" et qu'au moins, celui-ci, il avait aimé le faire. C'était le plus grand compliment qu'on puisse me faire, surtout venant de quelqu'un comme lui."


Jean-Francois Houben

Remerciements: Harry Kümel.

1er février 2007

jeudi, novembre 09, 2006

Composer Basil Poledouris: 1945-2006

Born on 21th Aug. 1945 [Kansas City], film composer Basil Poledouris passed away on 8th Nov. 2006 [Los Angeles]. He studied with film composer David Raksin and directed a few films as film student: The Burial, Darrin, Slow Dance on the Killing Ground, Glut.

A documentary about his works and passions was made in 1997: Basil Poledouris : His Life and Music.

An Official Website is devoted to him: http://www.basil-poledouris.com/

Among his best film scores: Blue Lagoon, The (1980) ; Conan the Barbarian (1982) ; Conan the Destroyer (1984) ; Flesh & Blood (1985) ; RoboCop (1987) ; Farewell to the King (1989)...

mercredi, septembre 27, 2006

Upcoming Universal CD: a tribute to Georges VAN PARYS

Several months ago, I praised French composer Georges Van Parys on this blog.

Universal France has announced the 4 upcoming titles in the collection 'ECOUTEZ LE CINEMA' (November 2006): L'HOMME DE RIO + LES TRIBULATIONS D'UN CHINOIS EN CHINE (Georges DELERUE), Le Monde Electronique de François de Roubaix vol. 2, MELODIE EN SOUS-SOL + UN SINGE EN HIVER (Michel MAGNE) and... last but not least... Georges Van Parys et le Cinéma.

The CD devoted to Georges VAN PARYS will include original recordings and re-recordings under the direction of French composer-conductor Laurent PETITGIRARD.

--

Voici plusieurs mois déjà, je louais sur ce blog les qualités du compositeur français Georges Van Parys.

Universal France vient d'annoncer les titres des 4 CDs à paraître en novembre dans la dynamique collection "Ecoutez le cinéma" (cf. ci-dessus dans le texte en anglais).

Le CD consacré à Georges Van Parys incluera des enregistrements originaux et des réenregistrements sous la direction de Laurent Petitgirard.

lundi, juillet 31, 2006

Georges Delerue: Official Website

Long awaited, the Official Georges DELERUE Website has been launched at
http://www.georges-delerue.com/

jeudi, juillet 27, 2006

DCM Classique: Georges Delerue's classical works

Clement Fontaine (DCM - http://www.disquescinemusique.com/) has announced two CDs (to be issued on September and October) with re-recordings of some of French composer Georges Delerue's concert works.

The first CD will include String Quartets, Pieces for clarinet and piano, Prelude & Dance for oboe piano ; the second one will contain several works for guitar and flute.

mercredi, mai 10, 2006

A Tribute to Muir Mathieson, conductor, musical director and composer for the movies

10 May 2006 -

- Jean-Francois Houben: Dr Mark Brownrigg, you wrote with Sheila Hetherington a book devoted to Maestro Mathieson: Muir Mathieson: A Life in Film Music (Scottish Cultural Press, 2006). Mathieson convinced several talented British composers such as Alwyn, Arnold, Bax, Benjamin, Bennett, Bliss, Lambert, Rawsthorne, Vaughan Williams and Walton to write original music for the movies ; he supervised more than 600 British scores (as musical director and conductor)! Such a contribution to Film Music is exceptional. Can you detail his fantastic passion for the movies and for 'film music'?

- Mark BROWNRIGG: Mathieson moved quickly into movies after graduating from the Royal College of Music in London. The movie producer Alexander Korda approached the RCM looking for the services of a conductor and Mathieson was recommended by Sir Malcolm Sergeant. He was hired as Assistant Music Director at a salary of £4 a week. As his career developed, and as he moved to the forefront of his chosen profession, Mathieson realised that the cinema could be an artform, popular or otherwise, and as an artform it deserved the very highest quality of music. His unique contribution to film music history is the way he was able to finesse fine scores out of the astonishing list of art music composers you mention at a time when writing for the movies was very much looked down upon as hack work. Another huge strength was the intimate knowledge he swiftly developed about what makes film music work: all of the scores I have examined that he had a hand in producing are scarily well organised. The music doesn't simply respond to the narrative, hitting timing and accent points and utilising the appropriate style topics, but engages with the movies on a deeper thematic level. Listen to how Walton uses chromaticism to define his score for Hamlet, setting up an oposition between this for Doubt and simpler diatonic harmony for Certainty throughout the film. This conceptual argument takes place on the soundtrack just as it takes place on the screen. This score, along with all the others covered in the book, is structured in a profoundly coherent way. Mathieson also had the gift of knowing precisely when the orchestra should shut up, and was expert at choosing apposite diegetic music, often popular, for movies too.

- Muir Mathieson wrote several original film scores (from the '30s to the '70s). Do you have personal favourites among his own music for the screen?

-I am ashamed to say that I haven't had the chance to watch many of the films he scored personally - some are kind of obscure. What an admission to be forced into making! That said, I'm sure these scores are as disciplined and creative as the ones he "merely" music directed: the impression I get is that the man was incapable of making a false move or experiencing a lapse in taste. He was equally driven and obsessive about the value of all his work.
- A lot of British film scores are lost (and must be reconstructed - often by ear by people such as P. Lane - in order to be performed today). Is it the case with Mathieson's compositions for the movies?

- Scores for even landmark films can be hard to come by. As far as I'm aware, and we got this on the authority of John Huntly, nothing now exists of Noel Coward's score (orchestrated and organised by Mathieson) for In Which We Serve, a movie that won Coward a special Oscar. Not only is there no score, but no paper trail, no production documentation and no one still alive in a position to offer advice: Sheila and I tried to find someone to comment but failed. This is a particular problem in the case of this movie as current prints of it suggest that the two main tonal centres of the score are C sharp major and E major. Many musically minded people will immediately sense a problem here: both are a semitone out from key centres with widely known extra-musical associations, C major with purity and light, E flat with heroism (since Eroica). Either Coward was trying to subtly undermine the flagwaving patriotism of his stirring propaganda piece, which is unlikely given his innate Conservatism, or for some technical reason the movie has been sped up a touch and thus sounds to us sharper than originally intended. No one can shed any light on this, it seems. But C sharp seems an odd key to write/rehearse in when turning around music fast. My ear, at any rate, is of no help here, we really need a time machine.

- Do you think we can hope commercial releases of some of his film music (original recordings - if they still exist - or re-recordings)?

- It sounds obvious to say it but commerical releases of film music are made for commercial reasons. Fans of film music from the 1930s-40s often get heated about their inability to purchase scores by some of their favourite composers. Put simply, the music companies don't see a profit in what is after all a niche market within a niche market. Film music, and by this I mean original scores rather than compilation albums of rock and pop music, is a minority interest in the first place. Studio Era Hollywood scores appeal to a minority of this minority audience, many of whom are consumers primarily of contemporary film music. I suspect an interest in British film music from the same era subdivides this audience still further. Mr Horatio's Nibbles is unavailable even in film form, so the chances of it making onto CD are pretty slim. It would, of course, be wonderful if someone was to champion music from this era and either re-record it or release what period recordings there are of this stuff, but the commercial sense of such a project must be doubtful.

- A last question about the score for the 1960 movie, CIRCUS OF HORRORS (issued on a LP), credited to both Franz Reizenstein (concert composer who penned a remarkable score for THE MUMMY) and Muir Mathieson. Do you know the story behind it?

- Further complicating the authorship of this score is Tony Hatch's song-of-the-movie "Look for a Star" which became a hit on both sides of the Atlantic. Beyond that I can't cast much light on this, I'm afraid, although the movie, intriguingly, features a turn from Kenny Baker who would go on to be R2D2 and was shot by Doug Slocombe who would also photograph Steven Spielberg's Close Encounters and the Indiana Jones Trilogy. Full marks to Silva Screen for putting out the CD, but the movie itself can only be found on NTSC. As to whether the score was a genuine collaboration, if Mathieson was brought in as a "score doctor" or simply provided stock music I really couldn't say. Reizenstein was a pupil of Vaughan Williams, who presumably acted as the connection between the two. An invesitgation must be carried out immediately for inclusion in the second edition of the book! Or maybe you would like to write a biography of Franz Reizenstein?


Thanks to M. Brownrigg!

jeudi, mai 04, 2006

Christopher Gunning about film music

3 May 2006 -

- Jean-François Houben: Maestro Christopher Gunning, you wrote numerous - and remarkable - film & TV scores (a.o. COLD LAZARUS, FIRELIGHT, HANDS OF THE RIPPER, KARAOKE, POIROT, ROSEMARY & THYME, UNDER SUSPICION...) but also several concert works. Do you judge your musical life as a "double life" -- as some of your colleagues "concert and film composers" ?

- Yes, it’s quite a double life. The disciplines for each are quite different, although in my case I feel that one can help the other, both artistically and financially.

The most obvious difference between the two genres is that a concert work has always to have its own logic and narrative, whereas the musical shape of a film sequence is dictated by events and moods on the screen. The entire idiom of a film score might be determined by the film’s subject matter. Perhaps it demands a score composed in a period style, or at the other extreme, an avant guard style, or maybe it’s a Western, but when I’m working on a piece of my own, there are no predetermined issues of idiom at all.

If you ask me which area I prefer to work in, then I answer “both!” I enjoy working as part of a team in close collaboration with directors and producers on a film and the happiest experiences and the best music have always come from good working relationships. At their best, they’re a little like mini affairs; you live in each other’s pockets for a month or two, and then you part company and suddenly it’s all over. Afterwards you can feel a sense of loss.

I also like to hide away and take time to develop my own ideas, be my own boss, and come up with something which is truly my own. These periods of relative solitude are important for me.

I should also say that without my TV and film commissions, I could not survive as a composer at all. I most certainly don’t do them ‘just for the money,’ but nevertheless without them I would not be able to take the time necessary to write my concert works, which have never provided any income to speak of at all.


- You conducted some of your film music compositions in concert (POIROT, UNDER SUSPICION...). Film music concerts seem to occur more and more frequently. Are you enjoying such events? Are you satisfied with this tendency?

- I very much enjoy conducting, and have enjoyed performing my own film and TV scores in public. That said, my own experiences of attending concerts of film music have been “mixed.” The fact is that some great movie scores work in a concert setting, while others, even though they’ve been very successful and effective in the cinema, do not. I’ve performed scores by other composers which worked brilliantly in concerts or as broadcasts – off the top of my head I can think of “Psycho,” “Young Sherlock” by Bruce Broughton, or “Islands in the Stream” by Jerry Goldsmith, but I’ve also come away from film music concerts feeling dissatisfied. Probably the determining factor for me is whether or not the scores have their own narrative. Are they through composed or just a collection of tunes? If they’re a collection of great themes it can be rather like hearing a chocolate box full of tasty morsels – gratifying in an “instant” sort of way, but not truly involving. To be brutally honest, I’d probably rather go and hear the 5th or 7th Symphonies of Sibelius, Symphony no 3 by Lutoslawski, or perhaps a jazz concert than one devoted purely to film scores...

- Do you sincerely feel that the "best of film music" can be performed in a concert hall as the classical or contemporary music (despite the fact that music specifically written for the screen isn't "pure music")?

- I think I’ve covered this in my last answer, and yes, it’s certainly possible to have concerts of great film music, but I don’t think film “lollypops” make for the most satisfying concerts in general. I’d go to hear Prokofiev’s scores. I’d go to hear some of Richard Rodney Bennett’s scores (especially ‘Far from the Madding Crowd’ - the storm sequence is still one of my favourite pieces of music for film) and I’d go to hear John Williams too. That’s not an exhaustive list.

One subject not so far covered is how a film score can occasionally make such a powerful impact that it becomes the overriding element by which you remember the film. I immediately think of Henry Mancini, whose tunes I always loved as a boy and still love now. Two bars of “Moon River” and I remember Audrey Hepburn and the whole atmosphere of “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” the opening riff of “The Pink Panther” has me recalling Peter Sellers, and Stephane Grappelli’s wonderful violin solo in “Two for the Road” straightaway has me thinking of Audrey Hepburn again and Albert Finney. I think this genius for creating something direct and unique for each film he worked on has seldom been equalled.


Thanks to Christopher Gunning!

mercredi, avril 26, 2006

Geoffrey Burgon about Film Music

- Jean-Francois Houben: Maestro Geoffrey Burgon, you penned remarkable film and TV scores (CIDER WITH ROSIE, DOGS OF WAR, FORSYTE SAGA, LONGITUDE, MARTIN CHUZZLEWIT, MONTY PYTHON'S LIFE OF BRIAN, ROBIN HOOD, WHEN TRUMPETS FADE...) but also several pieces for the concert hall (choral and orchestral works). Do you sometimes feel that your musical life is a kind of "double life" (as quoted by Miklos Rozsa)?

- GEOFFREY BURGON: I do see it as a double life. In fact I spend more than three-quarters of my time writing concert music and music for choirs, dance companies etc. I went into writing for film to subsidise that side of my work.


- A few "film composers" are adaptating some of their music specifically written for the screen into concert suites... Do you think that it is an interesting way to propose this particular musical form to the current and future listeners?

- It's apparent that there is a big audience for film music played in the concert hall and on disc, so I think that answers your question.

- You studied privately with Sir Lennox Berkeley. Famous for his concert works, he penned 5 film scores between 1942 and 1948. Do you remember his feelings towards the music he wrote for the screen?

- I have no knowledge of Sir Lennox's music for the screen, it was not something he ever talked about to me and it all happened way before I met him.


Thanks to Geoffrey Burgon!

samedi, avril 22, 2006

New RPO cd: FILMHARMONIC II

The ROYAL PHILHARMONIC ORCHESTRA will release in Early June : Filmharmonic II . The CD will contain music from the following films:


INDIANA JONES AND THE TEMPLE OF DOOM

MIDNIGHT COWBOY

WALLACE AND GROMIT

DEAD POETS SOCIETY

STAGE BEAUTY

THE TRUTH ABOUT LOVE

ROCKY

OLIVER TWIST

PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: THE CURSE OF THE BLACK PEARL

ROMEO AND JULIET

THE STEPFORD WIVES

STONED

VALIANT

BATMAN BEGINS

GHOST

WAR OF THE WORLDS



The CD will be available from RPO's website (www.rpo.co.uk)

mercredi, avril 19, 2006

Debbie Wiseman about Film Music

19/04/06 - I sent a few questions to Debbie WISEMAN about her feelings towards film music.

- Jean-François Houben: Debbie Wiseman, you wrote numerous film and TV scores (ABSOLUTE TRUTH, ARSENE LUPIN, GOOD GUYS, HAUNTED, MIDDLETOWN, WILDE...among many others!) but also several concert works. A lot of composers who have penned music both for the screen and the concert hall have a very critical attitude towards "film music" (even their own film scores). What are you current and sincere feelings about "film music"?

- My feeling about film music is that it is there first and foremost to serve the film, to provide emotion, drama, tension, mystery and whatever the story demands. Within the structure of the film I try and compose the best music possible. If I was composing music for the concert hall I would compose in the same way, deciding on melody, harmony, orchestration, but without the inspiration and structure of the film. So really, my compositional technique would be the same. I believe that good music can exist in film music and good music can exist in the concert hall, it's down to the composer to make sure that this is the case!

- Since several years, you have conducted suites from your scores during film music concerts... These are occuring more and more regularly in England, USA... Are you happy with this tendency? Do you feel that concert suites are the best way to preserve music specifically written for the movies and to propose it to the listeners?

- I really enjoy preparing concert suites of my film music and conducting them. On the 1st June I'm conducting two new scores at the Albert Hall as part of FILMHARMONIC: THE TRUTH ABOUT LOVE and MIDDLETOWN. These films will not be in cinemas until the Autumn so hopefully the audience will enjoy the music and it will encourage them to see the films when they are released!

- One of your teachers was Buxton Orr: he wrote "pure music" and "film music". Do you remember his feelings about the music he penned for movies?

- Buxton Orr's attitude was quite simple - to always compose the very best music possible, whether it was for a film or for a concert performance. He was very strict with me on orchestration too! He always thought it was important to decide, when writing a melody, which instrument was going to be playing that melody. He felt the two things were always linked, and this has made me very keen in my own work to always orchestrate my scores!

Thanks to Debbie Wiseman and Tony (http://www.debbiewiseman.co.uk/)

mardi, avril 11, 2006

Howard Blake about film music

April 2006 - I had the opportunity to ask questions about "film music" to Howard Blake who wrote numerous concert works and film scores (including THE SNOWMAN, THE DUELLISTS, A MONTH IN THE COUNTRY [1988 Anthony Asquith Award], THE LORDS OF DISCIPLINE...).

- Jean-Francois Houben: Maestro Blake, you wrote a lot of concert works (with public performances since 1974) but since your studies at the Royal Academy of Music, you are interested by the movies (you were projectionist at the National Film Theatre ; you directed a movie) and by film music. Several composers working for the movies and writing for the concert hall have a very critical (sometimes cynical) attitude concerning their own film music (for example, Miklos Rozsa -- you had lunch with -- judged his musical life as a double life). What are your current feelings about "film music"?

- Howard BLAKE: As a student at the Royal Academy of Music, I studied composition and piano between 1957and 1960 (classical - I toured with a violinist playing Mozart, Bach, Beethoven, Franck, Ravel... etc) on a bourse but became disenchanted with current ideas of 12-tone, serial... I saw Potemkin with an orchestral score at the age of about 19 and decided that the future of art lay in the combination of music and images (film images). I applied to study film rather than music but at that time nobody could understand what I was talking about, and they wanted me to do a course in photography. The University grant people decided I should stay at the RAM, where I did very little. I spent much time at the National Film Theatre and wrote extensively on the philosophy of art/music/cinema etc. After college I got a job at the National Film Theatre... which I loved- I met Jean Renoir, Fritz Lang, Vincente Minelli, Jacques Tati, Orson Welles, Chris Marker- all sorts of people! I made my own 16mm film which I wrote, edited and composed the music for. It was terrible but good enough to be shown in the film theatre as a short with Maltese Falcon- believe it or not! But I realised my gift was music and not script or direction. I was very interested in the fact that film used every sort of music and decided I must learn all sorts. I took jobs in pubs and nightclubs as a pianist playing jazz, pop, rock, latin american... and one night was 'discovered' and asked if I would like to be a recording session pianist working at Abbey Road. I enjoyed this and played with good people: John McLaughlin, Jimmy Page, Tom Jones, Cliff Richard, Sylvie Vartan, Francis Lai... among many. Whilst doing this, I wrote a 12-minute symphony sub-titled 'Impressions of a City' which I wanted to film. However instead I met Bernard Herrmann who thought it was brilliant and asked me to do some arranging and recommended me to Laurie Johnson at Elstree. I played piano and organ on The Avengers and then was asked to take over as composer/musical director, which I did (1967/1968). At the same time, I wrote many commercials for TV (204!), feature films (Some Will Some Won't, Elephant called slowly, All the way up... (...)
At that point, I (...) realised I was not doing what I wanted to do. I (...) re-thought the situation, deciding I would try again to write a 'Symphony with Images'. I (...) moved to a watermill in Sussex where I worked at such a thing- but without result. However my composition improved a lot and I began to write 'serious' works as they are called- Piano Quartet, Diversions for cello, Cantata 'Song of St Francois', Benedictus' oratorio. Suddenly all sorts of people wanted me to write: Ridley Scott and David Puttman came to see me for 'The Duellists', Lynn Seymour asked me to compose a ballet for The Queen, The Royal Shakespeare Company asked me to write for the theatre, and Richard Williams asked me to write for animation. But I still hadn't created my own film in which the music drives the images. I gave up the idea (...) and I returned to London to be a 'pen for hire' again, buying my present studio in Kensington in early 1982 to be MD [Musical Director] on 'The Hunger' for Tony Scott.
I had just started on this when The Snowman happened. I had seen an 8' pencil animatic in October 1981 and suggested to TVC that one could do a film with no dialogue and had recorded a piano demo. I saw it as the sudden opening of a window onto what I always wanted to do and I took full advantage! Snowman in England has become an icon and is very successfull (platinum disk, top of the pops, TV every Christmas for 24 years, plus stage show, concert versions, etc, etc...). I hoped this would lead to many more things of the sort- open an avenue. It is true that I did two more similar animations (Granpa in 1988 and The Bear in 1998) but they were surrounded by trouble and contractual manoeuvres and therefore hampered, to an extent sabotaged, which is a pity.
I have never taken a view like Miklos Rozsa and Bernard Herrmann because I started with a different view. ( I discussed it with them at length when we all had lunch at the Gay Hussar that time). There are many different genres within film and if you are lucky enough to be asked to do one, you should be aware of what it is you have taken on. Of course if you want to make money that is something else. Many of the most interesting things produce no money and many of the most boring produce a lot of money!!
I took very much the view of Mozart, that as a composer you must respond to the wishes of the time and do your best possible work in every case. This is not perhaps a typical view and is the exact opposite of Wagner's - but then I like Mozart and I don't like Wagner!
At the end of my website biography [http://www.howardblake.com/], there is a note of 'what I believe' from the Encyclopaedia of Contemporary Composers. (...)
I think that the 'Symphony with Images' I always dreamt of found a way of being born on STAGE rather than FILM! ...for the problem with film is that it is enmeshed in finance, politics, propaganda, stars and directors with egos needing gigantic streams of money and publicity and flattery...The great art of film with its sister-muse of music which promised such fine possibilities of beauty in the days of European Silent Cinema has been hijacked by book and theatre agents and mass exploitation of lowest human common denominators. If one wants to experiment one has to face up to the fact that one will have to pay for it oneself. And it's expensive.
Lastly, it is true I have adapted one or two scores for concert performance -Duellists and Riddle of the Sands at the request of the RPO [Royal Philharmonic Orchestra]. The only ones that work for me are the 3 animation scores. They stand up as music because they were composed as music. Otherwise scores are best heard WITH film because that is what they are designed for.


- JFH: You are now a notorious composer, pianist, conductor and musical director. Several years ago, you did some orchestrations a.o. for English film composer Stanley Myers (1933-1993). Can you share some memories about him?

- Howard BLAKE: Stanley was a terrific person who helped people and loved music of all sorts ; he was interested in and enthusiastic about everything. He was highly intelligent and had read PPE at Balliol Oxford. I met him in the period when I was still playing in clubs and he had just landed his first TV film, perhaps it was 'Poor Cow' or 'Up the junction', I can't remember... He asked me to play keyboards and I wrote out some funky Jimmy Smith licks. We became great friends and went to many concerts together, from Pink Floyd to Stockhausen, with different girl friends (he had more than anybody I have ever met). I remember going to the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis big band at Ronnie Scott's with Quincy Jones, John Williams the guitarist and Stanley. He often gave dinner parties and invited very interesting people - Jerry Goldsmith one night (who played us a tape of a Cantata he had written) -Roy Budd (who he introduced to everybody) - the great Hollywood arrangers (...) who had worked for Gershwin and argued about the different qualities of a cello A or D-string.
I played classical pipe organ at the BBC with jazz rhythm section on 'All Gas and Gaiters'. On 'Kaleidoscope' I played many different instruments as he loved to use many different sounds. That was a big break for him. I loved the funky-sort of waltz of the titles and the very original suspense music with - I think - azikwe xylophone and a harp bass line. I played piano on several different versions of his 'Cavatina', which I remember him writing - the girl in the next studio in Redcliffe Road said to me 'he keeps playing this same tune over and over again it's driving me insane!'. First was on 'The Walking Stick' with David Hemmings, then on 'The Raging Moon' with Brian Forbes before finally on 'Deer Hunter' , which I didn't play on - we were both in Hollywood at that time but working in different studios. John Williams played on all three. I loved 'Michael Kohlhaas' which I went to see with him, and I loved playing on 'Age of Consent' for Michael Powell. I played solo piano at Olympic and James Mason sat next to me, saying he wished he could play the piano!
At the start Stanley, Carl and I used to all work on each other's projects. My original prize-winning commercial 'Courage Light Brigade' was played on 2 harpsichords and piano played by the 3 of us! However it was thought to be a bit crazy for an ad and I rescored it for orchestra. Of course I met Hans Zimmer who looked after Stanley and Richard Harvey's 'Snake Ranch'. After Deer Hunter, Stanley really got too busy and tried to do too much. Like so many others he desperately wanted to be recognised as a classical composer and spent much time on his Saxophone Concerto. My last memory was having dinner (...) in the summer of 1993 when I looked through his completed score of the Concerto (I had advised him on various phrasings and dynamics etc). (...) He looked fine (...) but died later that year of leukaemia. I wrote an obituary and at his memorial where I was honoured to conduct the concerto. He is greatly missed...


Thanks to H. Blake & A. Menzies!

vendredi, avril 07, 2006

Film Music Society (FMS): projects

As announced on the official Dimitri Tiomkin website, "future audio restoration projects [by FMS] will feature music by David Raksin, Herbert Stothart, Jerrold Immel, and other important film and TV composers whose works are not often available on CD".

mardi, mars 21, 2006

Bernard Herrmann Official Website

The Bernard Herrmann Estate has launched the Official Bernard HERRMANN Website at http://www.thebernardherrmannestate.com/

vendredi, mars 17, 2006

Upcoming Concert HARRY POTTER & Wim MERTENS

New film music concert planned by the Film Festival Gent on 10 June 2006 at Oostende (Belgium): Harry Potter meets Wim Mertens.

The Vlaamse Radio Orkest conducted by Dirk Brossé will perform music composed by John Williams and Patrick Doyle for the Harry Potter movies and film music written by Wim Mertens (DAMIAAN, BELLY OF AN ARCHITECT...).

More details at http://www.filmfestival.be/

jeudi, février 09, 2006

Akira Ifukube passed away

Japanese composer Akira Ifukube died on 8th February 2006.

A few months ago, I praised his music (film and concert) on this blog: http://musiquedefilm.blogspot.com/2005/07/film-composers-to-rediscover-3-akira.html.

American label LaLaLandRecords has just issued his score for KING KONG VS. GODZILLA: http://www.lalalandrecords.com/KingKong.html.

mercredi, janvier 25, 2006

Frankel: Official Website

The Frankel Estate has launched the official website of Benjamin Frankel in order to coincide with his centenary this year: http://www.benjaminfrankel.org/.

Must we remember that this British composer wrote numerous remarkable film scores and considerable concert works (including 8 symphonies)?

Naxos will issue in May 2006 a re-recording (by Carl Davis conducting the RPO) of some of his film scores, a.o. CURSE OF THE WEREWOLF.

vendredi, janvier 20, 2006

2005

The following film composers died during 2005.

Les "compositeurs de cinéma" suivants sont décédés au cours de l’année 2005.

Pierre Bachelet (1944)
Eddie Barclay (1921)
Francesco DeMasi (1930)
Robert Farnon (1917)
Luc Ferrari (1929)
Franco Mannino (1924)

Jaime Mendoza-Nava (1925)

mercredi, janvier 04, 2006

2 New Monstrous Movie Music releases

Monstrous Movie Music (MMM) is announcing 2 new re-recordings releases.

The first CD, MIGHTY JOE YOUNG (and other Ray Harryhausen animation classics), features music composed for (and included in) 3 movies: MIGHTY JOE YOUNG (Roy Webb), 20 MILLIONS MILES TO EARTH (M. Bakaleinikoff and library cues by Duning, Raksin, Steiner & others) and THE ANIMAL WORLD (Paul Sawtell).

The second CD, THIS ISLAND EARTH (and other alien invasion films), includes music written for the 4 following movies: THIS ISLAND EARTH (Stein, Salter & Mancini), DAY OF THE TRIFFIDS (Ron Goodwin), WAR OF THE SATELLITES (W.Greene) and EARTH VS. THE FLYING SAUCERS (D. Amfitheatrof).

See: http://www.mmmrecordings.com/index.html

jeudi, décembre 22, 2005

Film Music Concerts 2006 - Madrid

Two symphonic film music concerts are scheduled during the 1st Madrid Film Music Festival (http://soncinemad.com/) - June / July 2006.

Composers Trevor Jones and Harry Gregson-Williams will conduct their own works.

All details on the Official Website.

mardi, décembre 13, 2005

CINEFONIA Records - 16 Dec 2005

Cinefonia Records & Sony/ATV Music Publishing France are announcing a new collection entitled LES NOTES DE L'ECRAN (The Best of French Film Music). The first title will be available on 16 Dec 2005.

http://www.cinefonia.com/

Cinéfonia Records et Sony/ATV Music Publishing France annoncent l'arrivée d'une nouvelle collection: Les Notes de l'écran. Le premier titre sera disponible le 16 décembre 2005.

mercredi, décembre 07, 2005

All Bernard Herrmann Concert at Barbican Hall (London) 2006

Programmed at the Barbican Hall (London, GB) on 17 March 2006, a "first-ever all Herrmann concert" with the BBC Concert Orchestra conducted by composer Joel McNeely.

Details at http://www.barbican.org.uk/music/event-detail.asp?ID=3782

mardi, novembre 29, 2005

Intrada: 2 dramatic 20th Fox soundtracks

Intrada will release on 12/20/05 the scores composed by Leigh Harline for WARLOCK and by Hugo Friedhofer for VIOLENT SATURDAY. This 27th Volume of Intrada Special Collection is a limited edition of 1200 copies.

mercredi, octobre 19, 2005

Chandos Movies: William Alwyn 3

Chandos will issue on 14th November Film Music of William Alwyn, Vol.3 (collection CHANDOS MOVIES).
It will contain symphonic suites from the scores for THE MAGIC BOX, SWISS FAMILY ROBINSON, GEORDIE, PENN OF PENNSYLVANIA and THE RUNNING MAN and themes from THE MILLION POUND NOTE, THE WAY AHEAD, THE ROCKING HORSE WINNER, THE CURE FOR LOVE and THE TRUE GLORY.
Rumon Gamba conducted the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra for these re-recordings.

mercredi, octobre 12, 2005

Upcoming Film Music Concerts 2005

Three film music concerts will occur in november 2005 (France).

Composer Laurent Petitgirard will conduct the Orchestre National d'Île de France http://www.orchestre-ile.com/ (works composed by Gershwin, Herrmann, Petitgirard and Williams).

jeudi, septembre 22, 2005

Upcoming Film Music Concerts 2005-2006

Three film music concerts performed by the Vlaams Radio Orkest will occur in Kursaal Oostende (http://www.kursaaloostende.be/), Belgium on 11th December 2005, 12th March 06 and 10th June 06.

The 11th December concert, entitled European Film music Composer in Concert, is planned to guest 8 or 9 European film composers (including Frederic Devreese, Maurice Jarre, Gabriel Yared...). Details on http://www.kursaaloostende.be/newsite/detail_event.php?itemid=196

The 12th March will be a Tribute to Kieslowski (Requiem) by Polish composer Zbigniew Preisner.

Thanks to Marian Ponnet (http://www.filmfestival.be/)

lundi, août 29, 2005

Piero Piccioni

An official Piero Piccioni website has been launched at http://www.pieropiccioni.com/.

mercredi, août 24, 2005

Silva Screen is announcing a new Michel Legrand's compilation

Label Silva Screen will release in October 2005 a compilation CD of Michel LEGRAND's film themes (with the Vlaamse Radio Orkest conducted by the composer himself in december 2004). It will include suites of THE THREE MUSKETEERS and THE GO-BETWEEN.

All current details on http://www.silvascreen.co.uk/master.cfm?SilvaCode=SILCD1185&id=4472

lundi, août 22, 2005

Limited CD edition of Delerue's TRUE CONFESSIONS



American label Varese Sarabande (http://www.varesesarabande.com/) is releasing in a limited collector's edition of 1000 copies Georges Delerue's music for 1981 movie TRUE CONFESSIONS. This remarkable score was issued on LP (see left picture) and a suite was released on CD by Varese (series "London Sessions").

samedi, août 20, 2005

New Armando Trovajoli CD release

Spanish label SAIMEL is releasing Armando TROVAJOLI's beautiful score for Ettore SCOLA's 1982 movie LA NUIT DE VARENNES.

All details on http://www.rosebudbandasonora.com/SAVARENNES.HTM

vendredi, août 19, 2005

Upcoming Film Music Concerts - October 2005

Two film music concerts will occur during the 6th Festival International Musique et Cinema d'Auxerre (France) : Francis Lai (Friday 14th Oct. 2005) and Eric Serra (Saturday 15th Oct. 2005).
More details on http://www.festivalmusiquecinema.com/

vendredi, août 12, 2005

Film Music of Erich W. Korngold

British label CHANDOS (http://www.chandos.net/) will issue on September 2005 new recordings of Erich Wolfgang KORNGOLD's SEA WOLF and ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD by the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra (Rumon Gamba conducting).

jeudi, août 04, 2005

Light Music, Film Music

Guild Music (http://www.guildmusic.com/) recently released a remarkable collection devoted to the Golden Age of Light Music, Guild Light Music.
Wonderfully compiled by expert David Ades, this series of CDs offer compilations including rare recordings digitally remastered from LP and 78s! The sound quality is incredibly good.
One of the CDs, Light Music from the Silver Screen, is focusing on "film music". Don't forget that a lot of "light music composers" wrote original scores for movies and television. You'll (re)discover here, among other treasures rescued from the past, several film themes composed by Philip Green and by George Melachrino, the superb 'Seascape' theme written by Clifton Parker for the movie Western Approaches in his original recording with the London Symphony Orchestra conducted by legendary Muir Mathieson, the 'Dedication' Theme written by Mischa Spoliansky (who performed the piano solo) for the movie Idol of Paris.
The "light music lovers" are encouraged to visit the very interesting Robert Farnon Society website : http://www.rfsoc.org.uk/

lundi, août 01, 2005

Upcoming Film Music Concert 2005

Interesting upcoming film music concert : 20 october 2005 at the Vlaamse Opera, Gent (Belgium).
"Polish Composers in Concert" will be a concert with film scores of three Polish composers (Zbigniew Preisner, Jan Kaczmarek and - last but not least - Wojciech Kilar) performed by the National Orchestra of Belgium (Orchestre National de Belgique - website http://www.onb.be/) conducted by D. Brossé and K. Herdzin.
All details on the Internationaal Filmfestival van Vlaanderen website : http://www.filmfestival.be/

mardi, juillet 26, 2005

Film Composers to rediscover (3) : Akira Ifukube

Born in 1914, Japanese composer Akira Ifukube wrote numerous original film scores (from 1947 to 1995 - with Gojira tai Destroia) and concert pieces.
His remarkable works for the screen and the concert hall deserve an international recognition. Famous for the Godzilla March, Akira Ifukube is certainly one of the most important (film) composers.
CDs with his music are frequently hard-to-find in our occidental countries.
In order to discover this major composer, I suggest the following CDs : the original score of Godzilla (as recently reiussed by La-La-Land Records) and the compilation "Best of Godzilla" made by GNP Crescendo and his concert work "Symphonic Fantasia" - based on several themes written for the movies Godzilla... - available on different (classical) CDs.

mardi, juillet 19, 2005

Intrada announces Alfred Newman's David & Bathsheba

Available August 2005 by INTRADA Alfred Newman's score for the movie DAVID AND BATHSHEBA (1951).

See http://shopping.netsuite.com/s.nl/c.ACCT67745/category.6/it.A/id.4363/.f

lundi, juillet 18, 2005

Dimitri Tiomkin & Internet

An official DIMITRI TIOMKIN Website is born ; see http://www.dimitritiomkin.com/

A noter, la récente création sur le Net d'un site officiel Dimitri Tiomkin à l'url http://www.dimitritiomkin.com/

Obituaries 2004

The following film composers passed away during 2004

Les compositeurs de cinéma suivants sont décédés durant l’année 2004

Elmer Bernstein (1922)
Cy Coleman (1929)
Michel Colombier (1939)
Marius Constant (1925)
Jerry Goldsmith (1929)
Fred Karlin (1936)
Gil Mellé (1931)
Piero Piccioni (1921)
David Raksin (1912)
Carlo Rustichelli (1916)

samedi, juillet 16, 2005

Unreleased Film Scores (2)

Composer Joseph Kosma is - forever - known for his Feuilles mortes (Autumn Leaves), famous song written for the movie Les Portes de la nuit.
One of his best and most ambitious orchestral film scores was written in 1961 for Jean Renoir's movie Le Testament du Dr Cordelier.
Conducted by Serge Baudo, this very dark and astonishing film score remained unreleased.
It's true that Kosma's orchestral music was sometimes too emphatic ; for this cinematographic variation on the Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde story, nothing but a deeply suggestive and concise symphonic score. This one deserves a re-recording.

Joseph Kosma demeure essentiellement pour beaucoup l'auteur de la chanson Les Feuilles mortes composée pour le film Les Portes de la nuit (que certains critiques fielleux rebaptisèrent Les Portes de l'ennui).
L'une des meilleures partitions de cinéma de Kosma fut écrite en 1961 pour l'un des derniers films de Jean Renoir, le curieux et étonnant Testament du Docteur Cordelier.
Dirigée par le célèbre chef Serge Baudo, cette musique d'une étonnante noirceur (longue d'environ 35 minutes) demeure à ce jour inédite sur disque.
Convenons que la musique orchestrale de Kosma était parfois gâchée par de l'affectation et de l'emphase ; pour cette variation cinématographique de l'histoire de Jekyll et Hyde, il écrivit une dense "musique des ténèbres" (pour reprendre l'expression du critique de cinéma Claude Beylie).
Cette impressionnante partition mériterait un réenregistrement discographique.

Unreleased Film Scores (1)

A lot of film scores remain unreleased (often integrally - even the "main theme" isn't commercially recorded).

I'll regularly give attention to remarkable unreleased film musics.

This first blog will focus about two scores written by the very talented composer Carl Davis.

The first one was composed for a 1971 movie with Christopher Lee, I, monster : Davis, known for his melodic writing, wrote a very dark and impressive 'atmospheric' score.

The second one was composed in 1990 for a - very bad - TV movie, The Secret Life of Ian Fleming : the score (beautifully orchestrated as always) has all the lyricism and the distinction.... the picture doesn't have...

Film Composers to rediscover (2) : Renzo Rossellini

Brother of famous director Roberto Rossellini, Renzo Rossellini wrote a lot of film scores (for his brother but also for others such as Riccardo Freda - who sometimes complained that he delivered the same musical themes for several movies) but remained underrated. Sometimes atonal, sometimes lyrical, his scores effectively accompanied peplums, drama, comedies... Essentially active for the italian cinema, Renzo Rosselini wrote a remarkable long score (more than 1 hour) for a french classic movie, La Chartreuse de Parme.

Film Composers to rediscover (1) : Stanley Black

Famous conductor, pianist and musical conductor, Stanley Black was also a prolific composer*. Several of his film scores are issued as 'world premiere re-recordings' by Chandos (http://www.chandos.net/) in the collection Chandos Movies. An excellent way to rediscover an underrated film composer... One of his last film scores, City Under the Sea, was very interesting and could be included as a 'suite' in a "Best of Stanley Black's Film Scores" (the movie itself isn't noticeable).

*you can consult his filmography in my dictionary.

Compositeurs à redécouvrir (1) : Georges Van Parys

Prolifique compositeur de cinéma (actif du début des années 30 à la fin des années 60), Georges Van Parys (1902-1971) n'est guère commenté aujourd'hui. Sa création pour le 7eme Art semble réduite à quelques 'chansons de films' (à très grand succès) : Comme de bien entendu pour le film Circonstances atténuantes de Jean Boyer, La Complainte de la butte pour French Cancan de Jean Renoir... Il serait dommage de ne voir en ce compositeur qu'un faiseur de mélodies commerciales. Redécouvrez un classique comme L'Armoire volante et prêtez attention à la partition originale finement orchestrée de Van Parys. Appréciez l'espièglerie et le raffinement dont il fait montre pour "musicaliser" un film 'de série' comme Le Fauve est lâché. Ne manquez surtout pas l'un de ses bijoux : la partition (louée par le compositeur Georges Delerue) du film Les Belles de nuit (réalisé par René Clair).

Royal Philharmonic Orchestra Exclusives : Film Classics

The famous English Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (RPO) has his own label.

In a classical collection called "Here Come the Classics", the RPO issued two noticeables film music re-recordings.

The first one, Classic Film Themes, contains famous and recent film scores (such as Harry Potter 1 by John Williams, Out of Africa by John Barry...) ; the second one - and the most recent (2005!) - is called Filmharmonic and contains very fine re-recordings of film scores ranging from Alfie by Burt Bacharach to Arsene Lupin by Debbie Wiseman (who conducted this re-recording ; the original soundtrack was already performed by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra under her baton).

For more informations and orders, you need to go to the RPO website (http://www.rpo.co.uk/) or to call the RPO.

Création d'un blog bilingue français anglais sur la musique de film

Bonjour à toutes et tous,

Spécialiste de la musique de cinéma, j'ai décidé de créer ces pages afin de proposer à votre lecture des informations et avis concernant des "compositeurs de cinéma" et des musiques de films parfois oubliés même sur Internet. J'espère que vous apprécierez...

Hello,

Film Music specialist, I created these pages in order to give you informations and appreciations about "film composers" and film scores (sometimes never discussed on the web). I hope you will enjoy...