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British Film Music
The Warsaw Concerto was written for the 1941 film Dangerous
Moonlight. Originally, the producers had it in mind to use Rachmaninov's Second
Piano Concerto, but ultimately decided not to pursue permission. Thus, Richard
Addinsell was charged with providing something in a similar vein. The film itself
concerns a young Polish airman/concert pianist Anton Walbrook who escapes Warsaw
to fight in the Battle of Britain.
Christopher Columbus, directed by David MacDonald, handles
it subject in what seems to us today a naive and simplistic way. The cast was
both American and English and in Bliss' own words it was 'difficult with American
and English actors to suggest the atmosphere of Spain - that is what the music
has to do - so I have tried using Spanish idioms, and tunes akin to those of
Spain which convey the feeling and atmosphere of the age in which Colombus set
forth from Spain.'
The star-studded Murder on the Orient Express (which won Ingrid
Bergman an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress) was based on the Agatha Christie
thriller and the composer, Richard Rodney Bennett, was the ideal choice to recapture
the spirit of the 1930s. The theme is heard mostly in the Istanbul nightclub
prior to the fateful rail journey while the waltz is the absolute embodiment
of the Orient Express itself. In 1939 Victor Savile, as producer, brought to
the screen the James Hilton novel Goodbye Mr Chips, the story of a schoolmaster
finding love for the first time in middle life, and suffering its loss thereafter,
with only a school and its pupils for comfort. The film was directed by Sam
Wood and featured Robert Donat in the title role. The theme on this recording
is from the opening of the film.
William Walton wrote fourteen film scores. Henry V was shot
principally in 1943 and first shown in November 1944, the subject of the film
well suited to the prevailing mood of patriotism at that time. Touch her soft
lips and part was written to accompany the parting of Pistol from his wife,
Mistress Quickly, as he goes off to war. The battle of Agincourt marks the climax
of the film and of the score.
Hubert Bath's Cornish Rhapsody appeared in the 1945 film Love
Story which starred Stewart Grainger and Margaret Lockwood. She plays the role
of a concert pianist and her composition of the Rhapsody reflects her love both
for Grainger and for the Cornish landscape that provides much of the setting
for the film.
The England of Elizabeth dates from 1957, four years after
the coronation of Elizabeth II. The film consisted of images of buildings, paintings,
artefacts and books, with a commentary spoken by the actor Alec Clunes, with
appropriate sound effects. The explorer is Sir Francis Drake, the poet Shakespeare
and the queen Elizabeth I herself. Men of Two Worlds of 1945 was directed by
Thorold Dickinson and tells the story of Kisenga, an African composer/pianist,
who has studied music in Europe. Though the film itself was not a commercial
success Baraza (for piano and orchestra) has survived.
Eric Coates was a master of light music, providing material
that has formed a stratum in British consciousness through much of the twentieth
century. The Dam Busters March is from the film, The Dam Busters, a story of
wartime daring, as British airmen bomb a dam in occupied Europe, a hazardous
exploit. The march is well known, however, independently of the film.
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BRITISH FILM MUSIC (UK ONLY)