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Out today is a new album combining poetry and music. TV Gardener and Classic FM presenter Alan Titchmarsh has combined both his passions. He has written a set of poems about his favourite flowers, capturing their personality with a gardener's expert knowledge, observation and humour. Each poem has then been used by composer Debbie Wiseman to create a musical tribute to the flower, translating the poem into musical language, a mini "tone poem" if you like. The tracks alternate between poem and music with the tracklist including items like Water Lily, Witch Hazel, Snowdrop, Sweetpea, etc. The album has already hit the charts based on pre-sales alone and it is labelled as a "#1 Best Seller" on Amazon.co.uk and it is expected to be available also on Amazon.com. Here is the Promotional Video on Youtube with Alan Titchmarsh and Debbie Wiseman introducing the album and its origins.
The world of film music is reeling this weekend from the announcement that composer Jóhann Jóhannsson has died at the age of 48. He is best known for his score to the movie The Theory of Everything starring Eddie Redmayne as Stephen Hawking. This score won a Golden Globe in 2015, and also received nominations for both Oscar and BAFTA awards. The following year he was again both Oscar and BAFTA nominated for the action drama "Sicario", and most recently he received BAFTA and Golden Globe nominations for the sci-fi movie "Arrival". The Icelandic composer's music was always innovative, "The Theory of Everything" was touchingly minimalist yet melodic, while both Sicario and Arrival built some amazingly effective soundscapes.
It is with regret we report that the composer John Morris died last week at the age of 91. Although he has an extensive list of credits for television and film scores and also musical theatre, he is best known for his many collaborations with Mel Brooks. The association with Brooks started with the original version of "The Producers" back in 1967 with Morris creating the underscore and arranging the song "Springtime for Hitler". The pair went on to create "Blazing Saddles" and then "Young Frankenstein" whose main theme for violin is known as "Transylvanian Lullaby". Both these films starred Gene Wilder and Morris went on to score several Gene Wilder films too such as "Woman in Red". Morris was oscar-nominated for the song "Blazing Saddles" and for his score for "The Elephant Man" starring John Hurt, directed by David Lynch and executive produced by Mel Brooks.
John Williams the legendary composer has now beaten his own record (for more Oscar nominations than any other living person) with his 51st nomination being announced today for "Star Wars: The Last Jedi". For the Golden Globe score award he was nominated instead for Steven Spielberg's "The Post" but lost out to Alexandre Desplat who won the category for The Shape of Water. Desplat's score is also nominated for the Oscar award, and other nominees for Best Music this year include Carter Burwell for "Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri", Jonny Greenwood for "Phantom Thread", and Hans Zimmer for Dunkirk.
The latest adaptation of E. M. Forster's novel "Howards End" has had its first season shown on BBC television, starring Hayley Atwell and Matthew Macfadyen and boasting a music score by Nico Muhly. Although Muhly is no stranger to film and television, nor indeed to popular music having worked with the Björk, he is best known as a "serious composer" of concert music. His music for Howards End is largely driven by piano and strings. It recognises the period yet with a modern sensibility, giving a soundscape which seems timeless and evocative. An album of Muhly's score for Howards End has been released today and is available on CD and for download. It can be found at this link on Amazon.co.uk. As an example of Muhly's concert music here is the Premiere of "Gait" played by the National Youth Orchestra during the BBC Proms 2012.
An album has been released celebrating some of the film and orchestral compositions of the late George Martin. This collection is called "The Film Scores and Original Orchestral Music of George Martin" and was compiled and conducted by Craig Leon. In terms of film music this contains suites or tracks from "Yellow Submarine", "Live and Let Die" and a set of Chorales originally created as sketches for the film "The Mission", which was then scored by Ennio Morricone when Martin was unable to complete it due to scheduling issues. In addition there is incidental music to "Under Milk Wood" and a range of other compositions and arrangements including "Three American Sketches for Violin and Chamber Orchestra". The album is available at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.
A collaboration of education establishments led by the Royal College of Music has launched an online museum at minim.ac.uk. The online museum is a virtual repository holding in a single place pictures and information about important historical musical instruments from various collections across the UK. Since these collections are dispersed in widely different locations and some are not readily open to the public, this online museum is an important resource gathering this information in a single accessible place. There are currently some 20,000 instruments in the collection, forming a key part of our national heritage. In addition to the pictures and histories (including instruments previously owned by famous composers and royalty) the collection also has sound samples for some of the instruments. The Virginal illustrated alongside was made in 1668 and is held by the University of Edinburgh and here is a direct link to its details.
A quick shout-out to composer George Kallis and his most recent film score "The Last Warrior". Based in LA, George Kallis has been composing for film and TV for several years with the war/spy drama "Joy Division" in 2006 and the TV movie "Highlander: The Source" in 2007 being among his first feature length projects as composer. He has found steady employment in the industry ever since with 3 score albums released this year. These include "Albion: The Enchanted Stallion", "The Black Prince" and the aforementioned "The Last Warrior". "The Last Warrior" is a fantasy adventure from Disney films and the score is available from these links at Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com. The composer's own website at GeorgeKallis.com provides further details about this plus other news and releases.
The composer Luis Enriquez Bacalov died last week at the age of 84. Though born in Argentina, Bacalov spend most of his career working in his adopted country of Italy. That career included the roles of pianist, conductor and composer for the concert hall though to many he is best known as a film composer winning the Best Score Oscar in 1996 for "Il Postino" (The Postman). Like fellow Italian Ennio Morricone he scored a number of "Spaghetti Westerns" in the 1960s and 1970s and themes from these films were later used by Quentin Tarantino on films such as the "Kill Bill" movies. Among his western scores Bacalov provided the music for the first two "Django" movies and his theme for these was recently also used by Tarantino on the unrelated (except in name) "Django Unchained".
It is with great sadness that we report the death of composer Dudley Simpson, best known to many people as the resident Doctor Who composer throughout most of the 1970s although his work on the show started as early as 1964. Dudley Simpson was born and educated in Australia and it was on the recommendation of the ballerina Dame Margot Fonteyn that he moved to London where he acted as Musical Director and Conductor on several ballet productions starring the likes of Fonteyn and Nureyev. Following a meeting with a BBC Producer he found new opportunities creating music for television shows and this was his primary occupation until the 1980s when he returned with his family to Australia. His television work included an acclaimed adaptation of "The Last of the Mohicans", the documentary series "The Ascent of Man", adaptations of several shakespeare plays, and he was music supervisor for "David Frost Interviews Richard Nixon". His genre television work included not just Doctor Who but Blakes 7, Moonbase 3, and The Tomorrow People. For many episodes of Doctor Who and Blakes 7 Simpson worked closely with the BBC Radiophonic Workshop to realise his compositions.
Some new releases of Doctor Who related music are now available. First up is "The Daleks" (the 2nd ever classic Who story) featuring some truly groundbreaking electronic atmospheres by Tristram Cary together with special sound by Brian Hodgson and the BBC Radiophonic Workshop. Next up is "Survival" (the last story of the classic Who series) by Dominic Glynn. And thirdly Glynn has also released for download only an EP of remixes of music from his score for "The Happiness Patrol" (as he did with his previous "Gallifrey Remixes"). Links for all of these can be found on our artile Doctor Who Music.
Two days ago on Saturday 9th September I was one of many film music fans who attended the 2nd annual gathering of Fans of Music from the Movies in London. The event was sponsored by Tadlow Music whose founder James Fitzpatrick hosted proceedings with a guest panel of film composers Guy Farley, Frank Ilfman, David Arnold, Christopher Young and Nic Raine. There were some interesting discussions led by the guest panel giving me some ideas for future articles on mfiles, and also lots of informal discussions, autographs, selfies and excellent raffle prizes. Everthing went very smoothly thanks to the efforts of organiser Tim Smith and his band of willing helpers. For the moment though I will recommend this type of event to anyone who appreciates film music. Tadlow Music is a record company specialising in re-recordings of film music scores, and their next release will be a complete recording of the classic Ben-Hur scored by Miklos Rozsa.
Many composers have written scores for silent movies. With help from the Kronos Quartet Philip Glass realised a score for the 1931 Dracula starring Bela Lugosi, Giorgio Moroder created a score for Fritz Lang's Metropolis (1927), Michael Nyman is one of several to have scored Vertov's Man with a Movie Camera (1929), and Carl Davis has scored many silent films such as Abel Gance's Napoleon (1927). Now the tables have been turned so to speak because Belgian post-rock band We Stood Like Kings, who have created a number of silent movie scores, have turned their attention to Godfrey Reggio's Koyaanisqatsi (1981) which is so closely associated with the score by Reggio's collaborator Philip Glass. To many this may appear somewhere on the spectrum between unnecessary and sacrilege. I was initially skeptical thinking their music lacks the abstraction of Glass, but it is certainly worth a listen as an alternative take on this iconic film. Here is the track Machines from the album (called USA 1982) and more details can be found at the band's website WeStoodLikeKings.com.
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Following on from John Powell, the next composer to join the series "Conversations with Screen Composers" is James Newton Howard who will talk about his music on Monday 9th October. Howard has a strong track record of collaboration with directors and with other composers. His director collaborators have included M. Night Shyamalan and Francis Lawrence, having scored most of their films, and he worked with composer Hans Zimmer on 2 of the 3 films making up Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight Trilogy. Having scored David Yates' Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Howard is now booked to score the sequel in what is set to be a new film series based on J. K. Rowling's books. The series of talks is sponsored by BAFTA and PRS for Music and takes place in the Elgar Room at The Royal Albert Hall - see this BAFTA what's on page for more information and how to book tickets.
The composer Pierre Henry died last month at the age of 89. He composed more than 150 works, and is best known as a pioneer of the "musique concrète" genre - the concept of creatively using, manipulating and combining recordings of sounds on tape. After leaving the Paris Conservatoire where his teachers included Nadia Boulanger and Olivier Messiaen, he joined and led the Group de Recherche de Musique Concrète. This had been founded by Pierre Schaeffer with whom Henry collaborated on their "Symphonie pour un homme seul". Among his works is "La Dixième Symphonie de Beethoven" made by combining sounds from Beethoven's 9 symphonies. He wrote music for several ballets, for the theatre and for film, and extracts or samples of his music also contributed to rock and techno music and film soundtracks.
Composer Emily Howard has a background in mathematics and computer science, and has frequently used aspects of Mathematics or Science in her music. Recently she has collaborated with the mathematician Marcus du Sautoy, who is Simonyi Professor for the Public Understanding of Science, and also Professor of Mathematics at the University of Oxford. The result of that collaboration is a new work for String Quartet to be given its premiere at ExCel London on 28th September. This will be presented as a performance plus talk - see further information at the New Scientist website under the title The Music of Proof. More details of the composer at www.EmilyHoward.com and also at Wikipedia.
The Wicker Man is a perfect marriage of music and film. The music composed largely by Paul Giovanni is based on traditional and original folk melodies. The music was recorded by a small group of musicians and the authenticity of the setting is heightened with these musicians also appearing on screen, including Giovanni himself singing "Gently Johnny" in the island's pub. Although the soundtrack has been available on CD for some time, for the movie's 40th anniversary the Sheet Music was also published in piano/vocal format with guitar chords for some songs. "The Complete Piano Songbook" covers virtually the complete score including instrumentals and feels more like a labour of love by arranger Christopher Hussey rather than a strictly commercial project. The Songbook has an introduction by the film's Assistant Musical Director, Gary Carpenter, who also appears in the film, and contributed a couple of the songs. Go to TheWickerManMusic.com for more details.
The latest composer to participate in the series "Conversations with Screen Composers" is John Powell who will be talking about his work on Monday 10th July. John Powell is probably most well known for his scores to animation features. His film scores have included "Shrek", "Chicken Run", "Ice Age", "Rio", "Kung Fu Panda" "Happy Feet" and How to Train Your Dragon with some of these films having multiple sequels. However he has also scored a number of action movies including "Face/Off", "Mr and Mrs Smith", "X-Men: The Last Stand", "Hancock" and the "Bourne" films such as The Bourne Supremacy. Unusually he has also collaborated with other composers on some of his projects, notably with Harry Gregson-Williams and Hans Zimmer. The event is sponsored by BAFTA and PRS for Music and will take place in the Elgar Room at The Royal Albert Hall - see this BAFTA event page for further details and tickets.
This year's Nocturne Concert Series at Blenheim Palace takes place on 15th-18th with the influential composer Max Richter taking centre stage on Fri 16th. Alongside violinist-director Ray Chen and the Aurora Orchestra, Richter will give a live performance on his acclaimed "Vivaldi Recomposed". Other works include "On The Nature Of Daylight" which featured in the recent sci-fi movie "Arrival", and the world premiere of his latest project "Three Worlds: Music From Woolf Works" which is music from Wayne McGregor's award-winning Royal Ballet production "Woolf Works" inspired by the novels of Virginia Woolf. The concerts start on the Thursday with "The Best of John Williams", and over the course of the weekend feature Jamie Cullum, Gregory Porter, Corinne Bailey Rae, The Jacksons and Kool & The Gang. Full details and tickets for all the shows can be found at the Nocturne Live website.
The BBC Radiophonic Workshop created an enormous wealth of music and sound for Television and Radio over 4 decades from 1958 to 1998 with Doctor Who being one of the shows for which they are well known. Although the BBC closed the department in 1998 a number of members of the workshop have continued to make and perform music under the name "Radiophonic Workshop". They have performed live at various festivals in the UK and "Burials in Several Earths" marks their first album. It was recorded live with a minimum of post-processing and is wonderfully inventive and evocative. As might be expected the team stick to their electronic roots with the music mainly ambient in nature, yet it draws on a wide range of influences with just the occasional bursts of sci-fi sound. The album has 5 tracks over two CDs (and available in other formats) and can be found at Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com. A sample of excerpts can be heard in this youtube video.
Although first shown at the Edinburgh Film Festival in 2016, the remake of 1949's "Whisky Galore" goes on release in Scotland today with a simultaneous release of the soundtrack album. This is a reworking of the true story of a ship laden with bottled whisky which ran aground off the Scottish coast to the delight of the local population. Who better to score the film than Scottish composer Patrick Doyle reuniting with some of the instrumentalists he worked with on Pixar's "Brave" so expect fiddle, accordian and penny whistle and some traditional folk music in addition to the composer's score. Also joining the album is the wonderful voice of Gaelic singer Mairi Macinnes singing Doyle's "Gairm na h-Oidche" (Calling the Night). The album is released today and available to download from both Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com.
I've recently discovered online a superb James Bond Tribute Band called "Q The Music Show". You will find the Band on social media including YouTube, and the video alongside is a terrific recreation of the track "Bond 77" which comes from Marvin Hamlisch's score of "The Spy Who Loved Me" and of course incorporating Monty Norman's Bond Theme itself. In addition to instrumental tracks such as this, the Band also have a couple of talented singers to perform the Bond Songs. You can find out more about the Band from their website which is at www.QTheMusicShow.com. Find out more about James Bond Music from our own James Bond Music webpage.
Our very own local orchestra The Royal Scottish National Orchestra is about to embark this month of a tour of the State of Florida. It was some 35 years ago that they last toured in the USA so this concert series is a very special occasion. With Music Director Peter Oundjian at the helm and guest soloist Scottish superstar violinist Nicola Benedetti, the orchestra will give 8 performances from 13th to 22nd March. The venues include Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach, Sarasota, Vero Beach, Gainesville, Fort Myers and Daytona Beach. More details and tickets from the RSNO website.
Tanna is one of 5 films nominated for an academy award in the Best Foreign Language category. It was also nominated for several awards at the Australian Academy (AACTA) where it won the award for Best Original Score. The film is based on a true story which actually happened in 1987 on the volcanic island of Tanna in the South Pacific. It was filmed on the island itself, with the assistance of the islanders who portray the film's characters from one of the world's last tribal societies. The score by composer Antony Partos is an evocative electronic-orchestral hybrid featuring the vocal talents of Lisa Gerrard and cello solo work by Julian Thompson. The album has now been released for download and is available from Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com. More information about the movie can be found at www.tannamovie.com.
Recently release by Sony Music is "Hans Zimmer: The Classics" featuring the music of Hans Zimmer as you've never heard it before. This is really a celebration album, full of cover versions of some of Zimmer's most famous tracks played by a diverse collection of guest artists, some having recorded the composer's music before and some possibly for the first time. Those artists include violinist Lindsey Stirling, cello/piano duo The Piano Guys, pianist Lang Lang, trumpeter Till Brönner, cellist Tina Guo, Saxophonist Amy Dickson, singer Leona Lewis, violinist Maxim Vengerov, pianist Khatia Buniatishvili, the duo 2Cellos, organist Roger Sayer and Lang Lang together with Maxim Vengerov. The album is available from online stores, including these links from Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com. As a taster Sony Classical have released the theme from "The Dark Knight Rises" featuring Rachel Stirling here on youtube.
We've made a small update to the mfiles Sheet Music pages. These previously displayed the sheet music allowing playback using the Sibelius Scorch plugin. However this plugin is now no longer supported by the modern versions of the main browsers, and so reluctantly we have stopped using the Scorch plugin. Instead these pages now embed the PDF version of the sheet music to allow visitors to preview the music. We also include a small playbar allowing playback of the associated mp3 file so you can also sample the audio playback before downloading. Hopefully this makes for a more positive visitor experience but if there are any teething problems or unforeseen issues please let us know through the Feedback email address.
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