James Peterson.

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With so many of the established film music composers passing away in recent years collectors of film music must be thinking who do I listen to now? What scores for movies can I look forward to? Will we ever see the likes of Goldsmith, Bernstein, Waxman, Rozsa etc again?
Indeed has film music got a future in the 21st century? All relevant and fair questions, I as a collector of film music too have pondered about the future of music in films, but I am pleased to say that after listening to the work of composer James Peterson, I tend to sleep a little sounder in my bed. His score for THE RED CANVAS must be the soundtrack of the year, it is a powerhouse of rich thematic material that has substance, life and direction, this score is for me the one I would without hesitation recommend to anyone who loves the art of film scoring, it revitalises a medium that has in the past five or six years lost its sparkle and zest, with the exception of a handful of works. Peterson has in one score rekindled a flame of interest that I hope will continue to burn for many years to come.

John Mansell: Your latest score to be released onto CD is THE RED CANVAS, how did you become involved on this project, and can you tell us something about the movie?
James Peterson: I was hired by director Ken Chamitoff. I was college friends with him but had lost contact in recent years. He did a Google search for me and discovered my ‘Moving Images Suite’ on MySpace. He was impressed and emailed me and that’s how it all came together… totally out of the blue. THE RED CANVAS is a mixed martial arts film with an emphasis on family drama. The filmmakers are all avid martial artists and the technical advisors and performers are all world class athletes in mixed martial arts fighting.

John Mansell: Staying with THE RED CANVAS, from what I have heard of the score, it evokes the golden age of Hollywood, by this I mean it has certain similarities to the styles of Waxman, Newman and predominately Rozsa, is this something you set out to do, or did it just come about as the composing process progressed ?
James Peterson: I did not set out to write an old-fashioned score. The references to Rozsa most specifically are embodied in a theme I wrote in homage to Ben Hur. It seemed appropriate because these fighters are gladiators of sorts. Also I truly love Rozsa’s writing and wanted to honour him. I think my music is a synthesis of many different styles of music channelled through my individual voice. I love classical music and jazz. I am a fan of 20th Century orchestral composers like Bartok, Stravinsky, Debussy, Ravel, Harris, Copland, Amram, Barber, Hindemith, Grainger and many other as well as the film music giants. Though I really do love the Golden Age composers especially North, Herrmann, and Rozsa, I find that my favourite film music is actually from the 70s and 80s where I feel film music reached its zenith. Scores like JAWS, CLOSE ENCOUNTERS, STAR WARS (the first three), RAIDERS, POLTERGEIST, STAR TREK, THE OMEN, and BASIC INSTINCT all were formative works in my listening history. I identify with Williams and Goldsmith and the other greats because of their fluency with harmony, great thematic writing and sensitivity to motivic unity/integration in their scores. While writing this score my ambition was to create highly thematic music that could exist on its own outside of the movie while simultaneously serving the movie’s dramatic contours, something with which all of my favourite composers are masters.

John Mansell: What size orchestra did you utilise on THE RED CANVAS?
James Peterson: Prague FILMharmonic Orchestra: 84 Pieces. 60 Strings, 20 Brass, 4 Woodwinds. Percussion was realized with sample libraries overdubbed in my studio in Santa Monica.


james 2John Mansell: Would you say that composers such as Rozsa have influenced you in your style of writing, or scoring projects?
James Peterson: My influences are from my favourite music, in no particular order:
• Jazz: Miles Davis, Chick Corea, John Coltrane, Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock, Clifford Brown
• Rock and Pop: Donald Fagen, Steely Dan, The Police, Sting, Peter Gabriel, Queen, Nik Kershaw, Earth Wind and Fire, Radiohead, Oingo Boingo, Depeche Mode, Take 6 and others.
• Classical/Orchestral: Bach, Handel, Debussy, Ravel, Ives, Stravinsky, Bartok, Harris, Copland, Bernstein, Gershwin, Hindemith, Amram, Corigliano, Adams, Berg, Barber. Grainger, Persichetti, and others.
• Vintage Film Composers: Goldsmith, Rozsa, North, Amram, Herrmann, Elmer Bernstein, Aaron Copland, Leonard Bernstein.

• Current Film Composers: John Williams, James Horner, Chris Young, Joel McNeely, Edward Shearmur, Theodor Shapiro, Bruce Broughton, Marco Beltrami, Elliot Goldenthal and Danny Elfman and others.

John Mansell: When you start work on a project, how early in the proceedings do you like to become involved. Do you find it easier to start at the script stage, or do you prefer to come into contact with the project at the rough cut stage?
James Peterson: I’d say the earlier the better. I had three weeks to write the score for THE RED CANVAS and it was a real push. I’m happy reading scripts but would like to see a late cut of the actual film so that my impressions and ideas are fresh the first time I see it. It is cool to have a bit of time to let your ideas brew. There’s so much of this that I think operates on unconscious levels. Stuff just sorts itself out in the background as you are writing and thinking about the work. Mental time “before” you sit down at the keyboard is critical. I usually have a pretty good idea about what I will write before I launch Sibelius and Logic.

John Mansell: I think I am correct when I say you starting scoring film in 1997, when you wrote music for a movie called BROKEN ANGEL, what was this film about and how did you become involved?
James Peterson: BROKEN ANGEL was my very first film project; it’s a story about abuse and homophobia. It’s a USC student short directed by James Cude. I went on to work with him on a syndicated television series called RON HAZELTON’S HOUSE CALLS for three years and completed 72 episodes of weekly scoring. Student films can sometimes pay off.

John Mansell: Had you always thought that you might work on scoring films?
James Peterson: I think the first time I thought about scoring films was in high school when I turned to my buddy while in a movie during the main titles and said “I think I could do this” to which my buddy said “yeah right”.

John Mansell: Where and when were you born?
James Peterson: I was born in Los Angeles and grew up about an hour south in a suburb called Irvine in Orange County. 

John Mansell: You have written numerous concert works and worked for ballet companies etc, how different is it working on film as opposed to working on a concert piece, or ballet, is scoring pictures more disciplined and maybe at times constricting?
James Peterson: I think the biggest difference between film music and concert work is the time pressure. Film always needs it yesterday and the budget and stress levels are much higher. In both you have clients you are working to please and the differences there are as many as there are personalities in the world. Sometimes you click and sometimes you don’t. It’s always more fun to work for clients who like you and appreciate what you do. 

John Mansell: What musical education did you receive?
James Peterson: Bachelor of Arts in Music UCLA.

John Mansell: When working on a score, how do you work out your musical ideas, do you use a synth/computer? Or do you stay with the more conventional piano and manuscript process? 
James Peterson: After I have had some time to think about what I am going to write I like to sit down at the piano or synth and work on my musical ideas then I turn to the sequencer to flesh things out a bit. Then I move to the score page. I use Logic Pro for Sequencing and Sibelius for score prep.

John Mansell: In 2006, you provided additional music for SCREED which you actually directed and produced, what was this project, and who provided the main score if you wrote additional cues?

James Peterson: SCREED is a short film that I wrote and directed. Robby Elfman, my orchestrator on RED CANVAS, provided the score. I wrote some additional cues for it.

John Mansell: You worked on a number of commercials. Around 80 I think, in such a short space of time what do you try to achieve when providing music for an ad?
James Peterson: Advertising music is very specific. The creative directors know what they are looking for generally and provide samples of the styles that work for them. On a 30 second spot pacing is tricky because it can feel rushed. Each spot is unique and most often you’ll write and re-write until you get it. It is rare to get it right the first time. There are always tweaks.
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 A rarity in modern film music, this is a score that is inspired by the legendary Miklós Rózsa – James Peterson masterfully writes very maturely for orchestra, with beautiful motifs, themes and counterpoint!

John Mansell: You also conduct, do you find it better to conduct when scoring a movie, or maybe do you think it is better to be able to be in the recording booth keeping an eye on things, also do you carry out your own orchestrations?
James Peterson: I do conduct but only when recording in the US. Because of the language barrier, when working in Prague I like to work with Adam Klemens because he is an excellent conductor and native speaker of Czech. The orchestra also knows him and trusts him. Whether I am on the podium or in the control room I always have Robby Elfman as a score reader in the booth making sure everything is coming down properly.
I do orchestrate but I also work with Robby Elfman as my orchestrator. It’s just the two of us. I don’t use a huge team of people. Though I am able to orchestrate myself, time often doesn’t allow it. I also like to have a second set of ears and trust Robby’s judgement implicitly. I deliver very detailed scores to him. He checks for proper voice-leading, chord voicing, blend and balance etc. I believe we have a terrific synergy working together. He is transparent as an orchestrator and doesn’t colour my work by imposing his ideas or changing the nature of the work. If he adds/deletes anything there is always discussion. When Robby finishes his round of orchestration and delivers his scores to me I am the final word as to what is in the delivered score and execute the final touches.

John Mansell: When working on a movie, how many times do you view a film before you start to spot it or get specific ideas about where music should be placed and what type of score is required?
James Peterson: In my experience so far. The director shows me the film once. Then we spot it. I go away and do a number of cues. Then show and tell. Hopefully that goes well. Then Fix stuff and move on to the next set of cues until everything on the list is checked off. 

John Mansell: What are you working on at the moment?
James Peterson: I am working on getting my next film; “seriously”. This week I just did a cool arrangement for a drum and bugle corps called ‘The San Francisco Renegades’ who have an amazing brass and percussion ensemble. Very eager to hear it as it was scored for 74 brass and 35 percussionists. The Loudest Show on Earth!

John Mansell: Your score for THE RED CANVAS is released by Movie Score Media, did you have any input into the content of the CD?
James Peterson: Yes. I requested that “Moving Images Suite” be included as a bonus. Mikael Carlsson chose the order of the pieces and did a fantastic job on the sequence of the album. I really had no comments or corrections. I am very satisfied with how it all turned out.

John Mansell: What do think of the state of film music at this moment in time?
James Peterson: Well one of the things that I find a little sad is that melody and theme seems to have fallen out of favour a bit in film scores these days. I really like strong melodies and I think sometimes that is perceived as being old fashioned.

John Mansell: What do you think is the purpose of music in film?
James Peterson: To cover up the sound of the film projector. It has very important dramatic effect on images. Watch a horror film without its score and see how scary it is. Not very. Some films work without music but it is quite rare. The trend in many of today’s mainstream films is that music is just another element of sound design to add to the bed of sound effects. I think film music can be much more than this.

John Mansell: Were any of your family musical at all?
James Peterson: My mother taught herself how to play the piano and encouraged my brother, sister, and me to take music lessons at an early age. My brother and I played in the school bands and orchestras and my sister was a part of the colour guard in the marching band. There was always music around growing up. I am the only professional musician in my extended family. 

John Mansell: As a composer do you have a preference to working on certain types or genres of film, or are you happy working on any type of film?
James Peterson: I am happy working on any type or genre of films. I really like horror, action and sci-fi because they tend to have the kind of scores I would like to write. I think the most difficult thing to do is romantic comedy. I haven’t done one yet but it seems the most difficult to me.

John Mansell: What is the biggest orchestra that you have worked with and what was this on?
James Peterson: The Red Canvas Orchestra of 84 members was my biggest film orchestra, The Renegades 74 Brass and 35 percussion is now the largest ensemble I’ve ever written for.

My thanks to James Peterson for his time and his patience on this interview.

Frederik Wiedmann

weidmanIn recent years many of the veteran film music composers such as Jerry Goldsmith, Alex North, Henry Mancini and their like have passed away, many collectors and film music enthusiasts have felt that their passing has left a void within the film music fraternity that will never be filled. However with young talented composers such as Frederik Wiedmann coming into play, we still have hope of returning to film scores that have substance, atmosphere and presence.

John Mansell: Your latest score to be released onto CD is THE HILLS RUN RED, how did you become involved on this project?
Frederik Wiedmann: A few people from the crew of RETURN TO HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL (Dark Castle Ent.) worked on THE HILLS RUN RED – so they called me to meet with director Dave Parker. I showed Dave some of my music and we discussed what would be most effective in his film. Shortly afterwards I started scoring it – which took about 3 months.

John Mansell: You utilised the Czech film music orchestra on the score for THE HILLS RUN RED, was this something that you wanted to do, or was it for budget reasons etc?
Frederik Wiedmann: It was budgetary reasons that I had to record in Eastern Europe. I have worked with the Czech Philharmonics many times before, always had a great experience with them. The orchestra performs at a very high musical level, and I am always happy with the result. Their in-house engineer, Milan Jilek, is a pro, and knows how to achieve the sound I am going for. Plus having great orchestrations to begin with (created by Hyesu Yang), helps get the best results in Prague.

John Mansell: When you start work on a project, how early in the proceedings do you like to become involved. Is it helpful for you to see a script, or do you prefer to get onboard at the rough cut stage of the process?
Frederik Wiedmann: Usually I get really involved with writing music at the “rough cut” stage. Although it happened on a few occasions that I was given a script way in advance, which helps me to prepare for the project, meaning I have a lot of time to create new sounds that will be unique to the film. In some cases there are certain on-camera music situations that need to be dealt with way before they even start shooting, in which case I am actually writing before the shoot.

John Mansell: What composers would you say have influenced you in your style and approach to scoring movies?
Frederik Wiedmann: I would say that my biggest influence has been composer John Frizzell. I used to be his tech assistant a few years ago and worked on over 20 pictures for him. I’ve learned a lot about the process of scoring feature films, as well as the technical side of music production, which has become a great asset of mine.
There are many other composers that I admire for their music, probably too many to list here in this interview.

John Mansell: You were responsible for additional music on WHITEOUT, was this because the producer/director felt more music was required after the main score had been recorded?
Frederik Wiedmann: No. The reason for the “additional” music credit was merely the amount of music we had to produce, record, mix etc in a short period of time. I was really brought in to help out where I could. It was a rather complex score, with lots of percussion and synth elements that needed a lot of attention.

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 The Hills Run Red Scoring Session, Prague 2009 – Jan Chalupecky conducting the Czech Film Orchestra.

John Mansell: When did you first think about writing music for film?
Frederik Wiedmann: I believe the score that made me aware of this profession was John Barry’s DANCES WITH WOLVES. I went to see the film back in Germany when I was 12 years old, and fell in love with the music. It was also the first soundtrack I ever owned. However, at that time I didn’t really know much about scoring films, so I really started to consider it as a career when I met composer Nik Reich in Germany. He showed me how he worked and it completely blew my mind, and it was very clear to me that it was what I wanted to do.

John Mansell: Where and when were you born ?
Frederik Wiedmann: I was born in 1981 in Stuttgart, Germany.

John Mansell: Were any of your family musical in any way?
Frederik Wiedmann: Well, my sister, Katrin Wiedmann is a professional singer-songwriter in Germany. If we got any influence from the previous generation in my family, it should be my parents. My father is an orthopaedic surgeon and my mother is a teacher at the Gymnasium. However my parents love classical music and listen to it all the time. My dad even plays classical piano as his hobby. Besides that, I think I grew up listening to a lot of Brahms and Mozart.

John Mansell: What musical education did you receive?
Frederik Wiedmann: I played the violin from age 6 to 14, then switched to Jazz Guitar. My guitar teacher Hans Hazoth taught me not only about playing guitar, but also showed me the depth of music theory, which opened my eyes (and ears) in a completely new way. That’s when I started to compose a lot, while still in high school. After graduation I moved to Boston, Mass., and attended Berkley College of Music, where I graduated as a film scoring major in ‘05.

John Mansell: When working on a score, how do you work out your musical ideas, do you use a synth/computer? Or do you stay with the more conventional piano and manuscript process?
Frederik Wiedmann: I write, produce and mix in Logic 9 Studio. There are very few occasions where I work out a theme on a piano or manuscript paper. It happens mostly in my computer. Everything has to be mocked up eventually these days, and I get more inspired if I have all the instruments at my finger tips, as opposed to just a piano.

John Mansell: How many times do you like to watch a film, before getting any ideas about where music is best placed, and what type of music you will compose?
Frederik Wiedmann: I’d say on average I watch the film once by myself, take notes on things that I feel while watching it for the first time. Then I like to watch it with the director, or producer (whoever will be directing me), and hear their thoughts. Then I watch it again on my own, with both ideas written out, and I can usually start the scoring process from there.

John Mansell: What do you think about the temp track process, by this I mean do you find a temp track helpful, or maybe off putting?
Frederik Wiedmann: More often than not, I find it helpful. In most cases I am not given a lot of time to complete my scores, and usually my movies require a lot of music (70 – 80 minutes). It is good to have a starting point, that everyone (producers, directors etc.) agrees with. In rare cases, you can end up shooting in the dark too many times to find the right “tone” for a film, which takes away a lot of time of the actual scoring process.

John Mansell: What are you working on at the moment?
Frederik Wiedmann: I am working on Robert Lee King’s (PSYCHO BEACH PARTY) latest comedy, called 818. We are still in the final stages of the scoring process, but a large chunk of it has already been recorded, featuring vocalists and primarily guitars.
Another film that we j.ust completed is called CYRUS, starring Halloween’s Danielle Harris, Lance Henriksen and Brian Krause. This one is a dark thriller, about a serial killer/cannibal somewhere in the mid-west. This score features western/country instruments like Dobros, Fiddle, and Acoustic Guitars.

John Mansell: When a score of yours is released onto compact disc, do you have any input into what tracks are to go onto the disc?
Frederik Wiedmann: In most cases I make the selection and the edits for a soundtrack. On THE HILLS RUN RED I chose the tracks together with director Dave Parker. He was very involved in the score creation and like me; he wanted the soundtrack to be as interesting as it can possibly be. You can thank him for the great titles of the soundtrack.

John Mansell: What do think of the state of film music at this moment in time?
Frederik Wiedmann: These days I feel that more and more people realize the importance of film music. There’s also a rising number of universities offering film scoring courses, in the past few years there have been many new film music festivals in many different countries, as well as film music concerts. I am really glad to see all this happening. I feel grateful to be a part of this industry.
weidman 3John Mansell: What do you think is the purpose of music in film?
Frederik Wiedmann: I believe the music in a film has to help tell the story. The musical underscore should never feel self-important, and should only express what’s necessary to emphasize the emotions of the story.

John Mansell: Do you conduct at all?
Frederik Wiedmann: I have conducted in the past, I do however prefer to sit in the booth and produce the score from there. Then I can really focus on everything that is important to me. While conducting I am mostly too focused on things that won’t help me create the best score possible.

John Mansell: What do you do musically away from film?
Frederik Wiedmann: There are many other media, besides film, that require music, and I was lucky enough to be a part of that industry as well, such as website sound design, commercials etc.

Many thanks to the composer, for his time and also his patience

Planet of the Apes.

Planet_of_apes_LLLCD1193Back in the 1960s the original PLANET OF THE APES burst onto cinema screens and begun one of cinema’s most successful series of movies. As a young boy I remember taking an unofficial afternoon off from school to go and see the first in the cycle and was immediately struck and intrigued by this original and exciting movie. What also attracted me even more was the haunting musical score by Jerry Goldsmith. I think it was probably this movie and its score that made me realize just how important music was in film, especially the hunt scene with the use of a rams horn on the soundtrack which heralded the arrival of apes on horseback with rifles chasing and riding down mute humans in a world which had been turned upside down by nuclear war. I followed the series but for me none of the sequels really hit the mark or made that much of an impression upon me in the film or score departments. Yes, the scores were good and the movies for the most part were entertaining, but I felt after BENEATH THE PLANET OF THE APES the series kind of lost it’s way a little. So when I heard about plans to revive the series or even begin a new cycle of Ape films I was, shall we say, a little apprehensive. I felt a little better when I heard it was director Tim Burton who would helm the new version, and also even more settled when it was announced that Danny Elfman would score the movie. Burton injected darkness into the story. In fact, although based around the same or similar storyline to that of the original version, this new movie was tougher, more hard hitting, darker, more menacing and in many ways more plausible or real. The musical score is one of Elfman’s most accomplished and polished works. He created an entire landscape of  diverse percussive sounds and effects and fuses these elements to create the foundation for his innovative, quirky and ominous soundtrack. The composer straight away sets the scene and paints a threatening and frightening picture with his darkly rich and foreboding opening theme, “The Main Titles (Film Version)” track 1 (disc 1). This pounding and relentless music which accompanies  the impressive title sequence begins out in space but soon segues into a close up of ape armour, clothing, headgear and weapons etc.
The music works incredibly well in the opening sequence and creates a perfect and befitting atmosphere. Percussion is the foundation as I have already said but Elfman builds on this and adds malevolent sounding brass and low strings, combining these with electronic effects and an overall sound which can only now be associated with this composer as in brass rising and falling and being punctuated by percussion and driving strings.  The theme builds and intensifies growing in urgency and tension; the composer masterfully creating a perfect accompaniment to the images and establishing a powerful and imposing musical foothold on the proceedings.
Having always loved Goldsmiths’s “Hunt” music in the original I was curious as to what director Burton would do and, more importantly, what Elfman would conjure up for the hunt scene in the new version, if indeed there was a hunt sequence. I am glad to say there was and Burton acquitted himself well and so did Elfman. Track 4 (disc 1) “Pod Escape/New World/The Hunt”, is an urgent and frenzied composition from the offset. Central character Davidson (Mark Wahlberg) attempts to break out of his escape pod after it has crash landed in a dense jungle and is sinking in a pond. Elfman provides this sequence with suitably frantic music, high brass and equally furious strings commence proceedings, but these are short-lived and a lull seems to fall on the composition but this quiet interlude is also short lived and soon we hear the underlying apes theme emerging from the depths of the cue; brass then builds and gains momentum, ferocity and tempo. Manic sounding percussive components rule the day and establish a fearful and threatening background, underlining and punctuating the blaring and forceful sounding brass – Elfman setting in place an unstoppable force of instrumentation which seems to force its way forward, giving no quarter to anyone or anything. Track 22 (disc 1) “Preparing for Battle” is a composition full to overflowing with tension and is real edge-of-the-seat material – the sequence appears close to the movies conclusion and Thade (the ape leader portrayed marvellously by actor Tim Roth) has massed his army ready to attack the humans, his aim being to wipe them out completely. He sends the first wave of simian warriors into battle and they launch a terrifying charge at their foe accompanied by Elfman’s equally fearful, terrorizing and powerful music. The attack is quelled by Davidson as he unleashes the full blast of a space crafts blaster upon the advancing apes, killing many and stunning others.
Elfman utilizes growling brass and martial sounding percussion interweaved with strings to add a sense of urgency. He builds the tension well with his amalgamation of percussive sounds and effects which dominate the cue and are bolstered by brass and gain energy to become a frenzied, chaotic sounding combination of elements, but work effectively within the context of the movie and create an atmosphere of nervousness and dread. This release from La La Land Records is for me a dream come true, for it contains the entire film score on two discs which include a number of alternate cues and bonus tracks plus a handful of source music cues. Also included on a third disc is the 2001 soundtrack album. The set has a total running time of 212 minutes, 42 seconds. It is beautifully presented and packaged with great art work and graphics plus wonderful liner notes from Jeff Bond.

Bartosz Chajdecki


Bartosz Chajdecki started composing at the age of 12, inspired and motivated by Zbigniew Preisner, whose advice helped him to master the art of composition. At sixteen he joined Krakow’s Camelot Dungeon cabaret as accompanying pianist and has since written music for plays such as ‘A Little Requiem for Kantor’, which was performed at the Edinburgh Festival in 1998. In 1999, he was accepted into the Krakow Music Academy and is currently a member of the chamber orchestra, ‘Forum Sinfonia’, performing worldwide. Since 2003 Bartosz Chajdecki has been composing for Polish theatres and television.




John Mansell: What musical education did you receive?
Bartosz Chajdecki: I graduated from Krakow’s Academy of Music in Poland. I started my interest in music at the age of 7 with the solo violin as my main instrument. After six years however I switched to piano – mostly because my hearing was having problems with the high pitch of the violin, which became more and more annoying. At the age of 16 I started to play as a pianist in Krakow’s cabaret bars and many other venues. But after about two years I felt that it was not something I really liked or wanted to do, so I took the double bass as my main instrument and concentrated mostly on classical music rather than jazz. When it comes to composition I had the privilege to be led by Zbigniew Preisner in the beginning and then, because of my short co-operation with Universities in England and USA I could also attend some classes with top orchestrators and I believe this to be the most important thing when it comes to my writing.

John Mansell: What instrument or instruments did you concentrate upon when studying?
Bartosz Chajdecki: First it was violin, then piano and in the last few years it was the double bass. Each of these instruments gave me a different view on music. In my opinion violin tends to be the most “contemporary” instrument, and when I was playing it I experimented a lot with non-tonal music and other contemporary styles. Piano is the complete opposite, as it is very “technical” and a 12-tone-scale oriented instrument (which is obvious), which is actually not very good for composers (this is something I’ve heard for the first time from Krzysztof Pendercki and I couldn’t agree more with him). The double bass, on the other hand, gave me the best view on harmony, which becomes the most important thing when you look at the music from the point of view of the double bass player.

John Mansell: You began to compose music from the age of 12 and were helped and advised by
Zbigniew Preisner. How did you become involved with the composer and how did he help you?
Bartosz Chajdecki: I met Zbigniew Preisner because my Mother was working for him. She is the best copyist in Poland and I’ve learned as much about writing music and preparing a score from Maestro Preisner as from her. Because not a lot of people know what the job of a copyist is, I think I will explain this better: a copyist is a person who extracts instrumental parts from the score and prepares the music for the orchestra so it can be performed. So, Zbigniew Preisner helped me mostly by giving me some advice about how to think about writing film music and what the most important thing is while doing it. Also how to prepare the score before writing and what the stages of writing film music are. I’m not going to get into the details, but as one can imagine this knowledge is very helpful as he has a great talent when it comes to “feeling” the picture and knowing how to fit the music within it. I got involved with him by accident as I never expected him to help me, and I would never dare to ask him for anything. Because he was working with my Mother he was visiting our place sometimes to supervise copying his scores. During one of his visits he just saw one of my scores lying on the desk and he got interested in it as it seemed to him as a very well written piece. From then on he decided to give me some advice on writing film music. On the other hand there was my Mother with a huge knowledge of the technical part of writing the score in general.

John Mansell: When you begun to become interested in music, was writing for film always in your mind as something that you wanted to do?
Bartosz Chajdecki: I come from a musical family, so being interested in music was kind of natural from my first years. But I really felt that music was going to be an important part of my life not only because we have a long tradition in my family to be a musicians but also because I started to feel this way myself after I’ve heard the music to THE DOUBLE LIFE OF VERONIQUE. I remember that after this experience something woke up deep inside me and I started to feel and experience music on the level that I had never before thought possible. In the beginning I was more interested in contemporary music, but as I wrote before it was connected with my violin education. However after a few years it began to change and finally I decided that film music is the best way to “say” to people this what I have to say. So I concentrated on writing this kind of tonal and illustrative music (as my first attempts and successes are connected with the theatre).
I decided that I wanted to be a film music composer at the age of 16.

John Mansell: Your music for the TV series DAYS OF HONOUR is epic, what size orchestra did you employ for this project?
Bartosz Chajdecki: You will be surprised, but in the first season it is a chamber string orchestra with seven wind instruments only. In the second season it is only eight string instruments with the piano and human voices and in the third series it is also a chamber ensemble. With my sound engineer, Michal Wozniak, we put a lot of efforts to make it sound epic so he did what he could with multiplying instruments, recording the same group of instruments several times etc. He also used a bunch of digital “exciters” which made the recording sound “bigger” and more powerful but on the other hand it made the mix a little bit flat and made it impossible to give it a more “spacious” feel. But we had to sacrifice that in order to get a more powerful sound. We had to do all of this because the budget did not allow me to hire the full scale symphonic orchestra and I felt that this was something I really want to write and most importantly, will work for this picture. What we achieved is epic and powerful, but also with a little bit of a flat mix, but it is obvious that it is impossible to achieve the sound of a big orchestra without being able to hire one, and sacrificing a little bit of quality in the field of mix and “space” is inevitable. But I believe that, despite the conditions, Michal did a really incredible job and I’m very satisfied with it. The other thing is that because we had to cut the budget to the maximum we were recording this soundtrack in a monastery which gave us a nice natural reverb but on the other hand it made it more difficult to add other effects and mix it afterwards.

John Mansell: How much music did you compose for DAYS OF HONOUR, and as it was a long running television series did you ever re-use any cues?
Bartosz Chajdecki: For the first season I wrote about 65 minutes of raw material which I could expand to about four hours of many different versions of the same music (it was also possible because of the way we recorded it – most of the pieces were recorded with one section of instruments at a time). For the second season I wrote about 25 minutes of additional music and for the third season about 50 minutes as it was supposed to be the final season and there was a need for the most epic pieces I could come up with. Right now however there are rumours that the series is going to be continued with two more seasons planned. I’m not sure what you mean by writing about “re-using cues” because it’s not like each season has it’s own musical material. It works like this: that with each season the base of subjects and cues is constantly expanded on according to new events and characters that appear, but we are still using the pieces from the previous seasons.
Czas_honoru_PRCD1326John Mansell: When you were assigned to score DAYS OF HONOUR, how much time were you given to put together some musical ideas for the series and as it was such a mammoth undertaking (I understand the series ran for two years) were you the only composer involved?
Bartosz Chajdecki: At this time it’s the third year with a new season each year. I was assigned to this job… too late.  It’s a funny story itself, as it all happened a little bit by accident. There was a competition for the composer of the music to this series, but I had no idea about it. As far as I’ve heard the producer had even chosen one composer already, but wasn’t sure about this choice. And then, at the final stage of post production my demo CD got to Michal Kwiecinski (the main producer and also the director of the series) and he liked it so much that he decided to re-open the competition so I could enter it. I was given six scenes from the first and second episode and I had to write music for each. I got one week for writing, recording and sending it back. Which I did. As you can imagine I didn’t get much sleep during this time. After a week I sent it to the producer by train and went to sleep not expecting anyone to call me for the next 24 hours or so.
But an hour after receiving this music Michal Kwiecinski called and said that after listening to these new pieces he decided that I’m the best choice for this production and he invited me to collaborate with him on the series. Because it was very late already I had just three weeks to write and deliver all of the music for the first season, and it took me about nine days to write the scores; then there were four days for the copyist to prepare the music for the orchestra and then we needed about one week to record and mix the music. So as you can see this production was as crazy as it can get when it comes to deadlines. But sometimes additional tension works for me very well so I don’t mind it as I usually need a boost and it works well also for the musical ideas I have. Answering the last part of your question: yes, I was the only composer for this series and there was big pressure not to use any other music so I had to come up with a plethora of moods and subjects which would be enough for the whole season.

John Mansell: There is a compact disc available of the score from DAYS OF HONOUR, did you have any involvement in what music cues were utilised on this recording?
Bartosz Chajdecki: I could have been involved, but I chose not to as I decided I may have a different view on the music from an average listener and fan of the series, so I left the choice to Adam Krysinski and my Mother, Urszula Chajdecka as I believed these two people would make the best as well as the most objective choice. The first one, Adam, is a journalist writing about film music so he would choose the most memorable pieces from the point of view of the listener and audience in general and the second one was a copyist so she would choose the best written scores. When I merged their choices I got the set of pieces I was satisfied with and after this my sound engineer and I were working a lot on adjusting pieces and creating a new master of this music so it could have the satisfying quality for the CD.

John Mansell: You began your career by writing music for theatre productions and still work in this area. Is scoring a theatre production very different to scoring films or television, do you find working on a production such as DAYS OF HONOUR is maybe restricting at times because of specific timings, dialogue and sound effects etc?
Bartosz Chajdecki: To be completely honest working on the music for DAYS OF HONOUR was very different from what I was doing before, because it was not like I wrote music separately for each episode. I had to create the number of pieces of music which would be a “base” of subjects and moods for the whole season. So I didn’t even have a chance to watch more than two episodes before writing all of the music. So from the side of musical ideas it wasn’t too restrictive, and from the side of the form of this pieces, however, it was very restrictive. Because in Poland it works such that the composer writes the music and can only supervise its use; afterwards there is another person responsible for actually putting the music into the picture and this person is called a music illustrator. In DAYS OF HONOUR the illustrator was Anna Malarowska who wanted the music to be as flexible as it is possible for her to merge two, three or even four different pieces together, cut the pieces in half or use different parts of the same piece at the same time. The result is that you can have music in the series which sounds almost as written, especially for each scene – but the “technology” of writing the pieces to make it possible to in this way is very restrictive. First of all, it has to be extremely thematic – all of the pieces are made from parts where each has to have the same harmony and amount of measure as the other ones so you could take the strings from one section and merge it with the piano, trumpet or percussion from the other section. This was a huge restriction, but a necessary one. The other big restriction was that in order to be able to switch flawlessly between different moods, all pieces had to be written in one scale which does not hurt when you listen to the music in a TV show but after you listen to all of the pieces on a CD, even if it is not obvious it’s still possible to become tired with the music more quickly even without consciously knowing why it happens so. So while writing this music I had no restrictions when it comes to timings, dialogue and sound effect but on the other hand I was very restricted when it came to the form of the pieces and I couldn’t choose the scale I wanted.
The last one was also annoying because I have to write in the scale I hear music in, so afterwards there was additional work with transposing it and I also sometimes got distracted during recordings as I could hear the difference between my external and internal hearing, and also I had to choose not really the best “somniferous” (I got this word from the dictionary a moment ago;) scale but the one that would be the easiest for the musicians to play as there was very limited time for the recording sessions so I had to think about making it as easy and fast as possible.

John Mansell: Do you ever perform on any of your compositions, and do you also conduct?
Bartosz Chajdecki: Yes. I had my pieces performed live several times and I love this way of showing my music. Right now I’m working on preparing the concert version of a score from DAYS OF HONOUR for the performance during the Festival of Film Music in Krakow which will take place in a huge abandoned factory hall for 8000 people. I’ve also just had two performances of my Mass for orchestra, choir, voices and ethnic instruments. Sometimes I conduct my pieces of music but only when it is absolutely necessary as I don’t like doing that. I get easily distracted when something happens and the performance stops being as close to how I imagine the piece to sound, and then I can get lost. Besides, I believe that one can be really good only in one field and in my case it is, as I hope, writing music. There are a lot of good conductors who are well prepared and will do this job better than me so I don’t see the reason to take this role unless I have to, as the most important thing at the end is the quality of a performance and of the music itself, and not the ego of anyone involved in the production.

John Mansell: What composers would you say have influenced you, firstly film music composers and then classical composers?
Bartosz Chajdecki: In the first place it was, of course, Zbigniew Preisner. But then I started to look more into the Hollywood composers as this is the kind of music that I like the most and I believe that works the best in the movies. The obvious start is John Williams, then Jerry Goldsmith, Elliot Goldenthal, Eric Serra. I love orchestrations of Danny Elfman who is absolutely the best in using orchestra and wind instruments in it. I also love Harry Gregson Williams and Craig Armstrong who can both write extremely powerful music. James Horner is also one of my favourites, especially for the score that is not very typical for him, the OST for SNEAKERS, And one can’t forget about Hans Zimmer but I need to say that I don’t admire his first soundtracks as much as the latest scores. Especially for THE DA VINCI CODE. When it comes to classical composers, it’s Shostakovich in the first place for his incredible power, freshness and ability to mix many different moods in one piece of music. Then it is Brahms for his symphonies and Ein Deutches Requiem. Beethoven for his Fifth and Seven Symphonies as well as absolutely incredible overtures. Also Mozart for his later works. There was a time I also really admired Karl Jenkins for his Adiemus and Ennio Morricone for his music to THE MISSION.

John Mansell: You have worked in Brazil, England and also The United States collaborating with various Theatre groups etc, is there a great deal of difference between working in Brazil, The UK and the United States in comparison to working in Poland?
Bartosz Chajdecki: There is a huge difference. Unfortunately most of the differences have one basic source which is money and budgets, these are much lower in Poland also comparing to Brazil which came as a surprise for me. But I really like working for Polish theatre which I think is on a very high level and is a very well developed part of Polish culture and I hope it’s going to stay this way despite the rough economic times. There are so many little things when it comes to working in different parts of the world that I would need more specific questions in order to tell more about it. It’s also because of cultural differences and attitude towards the composer as a profession and his role in the production.

John Mansell: What do you think is the purpose of music in theatre and also film?
Bartosz Chajdecki: There is only one and obvious reason for the music to be a part of creation – to help support the picture or the performance. The sole purpose of music is to help create emotions and atmosphere. Sometimes by doing that with the support from the director and in conjunction with his way of thinking about the role of music in a particular movie, it can also help to tell a story. Adjust a mood in some scenes. Sometimes you see the scene and there is no obvious emotion or it seems to be a little bit emotionally empty. Then the purpose of music would be to suggest to the audience what kind of emotion the character is experiencing. In theatre, for example, I love moments when there is a character on the stage but we don’t know what is happening inside his soul. It remains silent instead of screaming or laughing. And then the director with the help of composer can use the music to point it. And this is the moment where the music starts to tell a story and becomes an important part in creating the whole experience. In a movie however it’s not like you need to “create” or force music into the picture. When I’m supposed to write music for a film, I always watch it as if there were music before and I just have to find it. Find the music which already exists within the picture I’m watching. Then the whole process as well as the music itself becomes a very natural part of the whole work.

John Mansell: Do you orchestrate all of your own music, or maybe at times use an orchestrator if a deadline is looming, and do you feel that orchestration is an important part of the composing process?
Bartosz Chajdecki: At this time I’m very strict about doing it myself as I think that it’s a big part of the composer’s personality. This is true when it comes to film music, where you usually use minor and major scales because these work the best for showing basic emotions. Besides, in my opinion there are a lot of people in this world who are capable of coming up with a melody – but what makes composers different from these people is the ability to use this melody in the right way.
Controlling the process while achieving the effect they want. That’s why I think that ability to orchestrate is absolutely crucial and that’s why I made it an important part of my work and education. Of course I can’t say that I’m never going to use an orchestrator, but I will do everything not to be forced to do so. For now, I much prefer not to accept the job than to agree on doing it knowing that I will not have time to do it properly and a part of this is orchestrating it myself. I have a feeling that only when doing it this way does the full responsibility for my work lay upon me, and I find this situation to be the best from the point of view of the producers as well as my commitment to the work I need to do.

John Mansell: When working out your musical ideas, do you use piano or maybe synthesiser / computer?
Bartosz Chajdecki: I only use the piano sometimes to check which scale I hear the piece in. Besides that, I never use the piano and absolutely not synthesisers during the writing process as it can destroy the way I’m hearing the music in my head. However, sometimes after finishing the score there is a need to prepare a preview for the director or a producer and then, depending on the kind of sound which is going to be the best for showing my intentions, I perform the piece on the piano or work with Michal, my sound engineer, on an electronic version of the piece.

John Mansell: What is your opinion of the state or quality of film music at this moment in time and do you have any particular favourite composers or composers you would say are original and interesting?
Bartosz Chajdecki: I think that, except a few of the best and most memorable scores, the quality of film music has improved a lot compared to what you could listen to thirty or even twenty years ago. Composers like Zimmer, Horner, Desplat, Elfmann took film music a level higher, so that right now you really need to provide the highest quality music.
As I said before, nowadays a well-written subject or a nice melody is not enough to make you a decent film music composer and in order to compete with the best your music needs to represent a really outstanding quality. And it counts much more right now than being very original because sometimes if you are this way it makes you interesting, but in the long term it becomes apparent that it’s not going to work for most of the movies or you can make music only to one genre of movies or you music works only with the movie that was made in the way so it is going to work with your music. So I can’t say that as for today I find most of the composers I mentioned very original. What is more important is that they are all great in providing a film with music that perfectly fits in it’s mood and atmosphere and really helps with experiencing it. Right now one of the best composers in my opinion is Harry Gregson-Williams, but he was much more original at the beginning of his big career with his music to SPY GAME, with each production getting a little bit less original which doesn’t change the fact that his music is still absolutely awesome and incredible to listen to! On the other hand we have the soundtrack to the latest Sherlock Holmes movie which in my opinion was the most original blockbuster movie soundtrack of last few years and I really liked it very much but it didn’t meet with acceptation from most of the film community and filmmakers. The thing is that the really great film music composers can still do absolutely amazing pieces without being very original but by just having their own kind of style and approach towards writing a piece of film music. The thing is not to force the music to be very original against all odds, because that’s not the point; and by doing that, even if the composer succeeds in being original, it still doesn’t mean that he is going to come up with a good film score – which should be the most important factor for every film music composer.

John Mansell: What are you working on at the moment?
Bartosz Chajdecki: Right now I’m just finishing my work on a new TV show directed by Maciej Dejczer who is one of the leading polish directors. I’m also preparing scores for three concerts of my music and I’m producing a CD of one of the most important singers in Krakow. I just prepared my propositions for the music for two feature films and if it’s going to work out well it will be produced next year. I’m also negotiating two other contracts for writing music to a movie. When I finish producing this CD, I start working for a theatre and will be preparing two plays with the premiere performances in March and April. This is my schedule till May and then there is TV and theatre. I will also go to England, Germany, France and Hungary to talk about possible co-operation with film directors and producers there. Hopefully it’s going to work out well.

John Mansell: Do you do anything musically away from theatre and film?
Bartosz Chajdecki: Yes, I do. As I mentioned before I just finished working on a Mass. I also wrote a symphonic suite titled ‘Destination Unknown’ based on Jewish style music which had a few performances in Poland and Germany and I’m working on merging it with a dance as that was my first idea but I didn’t manage to organize the production with any dancers or choreographers yet. Right now I’m thinking about writing a piano concerto and I started working on a symphony but because of my other assignments this last enterprise will probably take a long time to finish. However, all of that is or will be written also as a kind of illustrative music, so I’m not planning to go far away from my film interests.

A personal note: Thanks goes to Łukasz Waligorski for his help contacting the composer, without his assistance this interview would not have happened.

Piero Piccioni.

piccioni5During the 1960’s and the early part of the 1970’s, Italian produced western movies enjoyed considerable success at the cinema box offices all over the world. It was due to this particular genre of films that many of Italy’s directors and producers began to receive recognition from the cinema going public outside of Italy. Italian composers too began to become noticed, their unusually innovative and original musical scores gaining a following that was in certain circumstances nearly as large as the audiences for the films which they had been composed for. The main reason that the scores for these sage-brush sagas were so popular was because they were so totally different from what many of the cinema audiences had become used to over the years with the American made western movie. It is true to state that a number of people, critics mostly were at first unimpressed with the style that was employed by Italian composers, but now it would be very hard to image a western movie without this type of scoring on its soundtrack.
Composers such as Ennio Morricone, Stelvio Cipriani, Bruno Nicolai, Francesco De Masi and Piero Piccioni were all launched upon their musical careers because of music that was composed for a Spaghetti Western. Many of these composers are today regarded as the mainstays of that genres musical heritage. Because of the success of the Italian produced western and also the emergence and development of the Italian Western score, many composers such as the individuals mentioned went onto work on numerous other motion pictures of varying subject matters. Morricone in particular excelled at writing for the cinema and is regarded in the 21st century as one of the world’s most prominent music smiths. Piero Piccioni is a composer that I have always found interesting, and his ability to adapt to any genre of film is at times astounding, his use of jazz and symphonic styles is masterful, and the technique which he employed on Spaghetti westerns was original and exceptional.

Piccioni avoided most of the stock sounds that were utilized by his contemporaries. Thus making his work for the genre even more original and innovative. For example Piccioni did not employ the whistling or the shrieks that were heard in many of the Spaghetti Western scores, he more often than not relied on the conventional instruments of the orchestra, trumpet, strings and woodwind, and although his music is from the Italian school, it also is probably the most Americanized in its overall construction, sound and impact within the context of the movie. My first question for the Maestro was about his approach to scoring a western. Where did he get his inspiration from when scoring a western ?

My inspiration for music in westerns came mainly from composers such as Max Steiner and more than any other Dimitri Tiomkin, his scores for the Hollywood produced westerns are classics and highly regarded. Obviously I did not copy his style directly, but hopefully emulated it, at the same time following my own compositive instinct.

Piccioni was born in TorinoItaly, on December 6th 1921. He did take piano lessons, but as for composition etc. is concerned the composer is self taught. I enquired if the Maestro had he always wanted to write music for the cinema?
No, I really wanted to become involved with the composition of pure music. By this I mean jazz, film music came later. 

So what was the composer’s first entry into writing for the cinema?
My first feature film score came in 1950/1951. This was for a movie entitled IL MONDO LE CONDANNA, which was a movie that was directed by Gianni Franciolini. 

I asked Piccioni if he had been influenced at all by any composer or artist, in the way that he composed?
Yes most definitely, Dimitri Toimkin I have already mentioned, but I have drawn much from the works of Debussy and Honegger, plus there is the jazz side of things where Duke Ellington and Bill Holman figured quite largely. 

A question that I like to ask Italian composers is the issue of taking an alias to score a movie, had Piccioni ever changed his name for any movie score at all?
Yes, quite a few times actually. I would at times take the names Piero Morgan or Peter Morgan, this was at times to make the credits on the movie look more American or at times the director asked me to do so, and also sometimes if I personally felt that the movie was not that good after it was all finished, thankfully this has not happened to me a great deal. 
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Piero Piccioni has composed many film scores, these have been for films of varying genres, I enquired if the composer was happier working on say westerns as opposed to crime thrillers etc.?

I do really prefer to work on films that have a modern setting, the romantic and mysterious variety are particularly appealing to my appetite, then I can write either a jazz or contemporary classical score, and maybe in certain circumstances I have been able to combine the two styles, which is quite interesting. 

Had he ever declined an offer of a scoring assignment, or indeed had he ever had a score rejected?

I have refused a number of films and other projects, mainly because the project was not a good one, I have had one score rejected, this was for a film called L’UOMO CHE RIDE, which was based on a story by Victor Hugo, and directed by Sergio Corbucci. Corbucci actually told me that he liked the work that I had done for the movie, but the producer, who’s name I forget and is no longer important, decided to have another composer write the score. I was rather young and inexperienced at the time, so I did not challenge his decision, needless to say I went onto score many more movies, and he went onto do other work, which was more fitting to his aptitude and position, cleaning toilets I think.

Italian film music composers during the 1960’s and 1970’s would on many occasions work in what has been described as a family environment, by this I mean that they would work within each others orchestras, performing, conducting or at times collaborating on composition. They would also use the same soloists, performers and choirs. I asked Piccioni about this practice.
Yes that is correct, many composers worked alongside each other, this was particularly true during the period when the Italian western was popular. I do not think that I worked with as many as say Morricone or Trovajoli, but I did work with Allessandro Allessandroni a few times but this was mainly on television scores, his choir is very good indeed, and as a performer he himself is flawless.
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During the early stages of his career, Piccioni worked on westerns such as MINNESOTA CLAY and SARTANA. I asked the composer about the scoring schedules on films such as these, as the budgets must have been a little tight?
I would normally be allowed 10 to 14 days to complete my work, but this depended on the individual movie or the attitude of the films director and producer. It also depended on what type of music was needed, whether I needed to write for a special instrument or had to include choir etc., plus as you are aware, many directors leave the music until the last minute, so invariably, I was told that the music was needed ‘YESTERDAY. 

Going back to MINNESOTA CLAY, how did the composer become involved on the movie?

Basically the director Sergio Corbucci asked me, the film was very good, but unfortunately it was released at the same time as A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS, so it became overlooked and was not as successful as Leone’s western. 

Did the composer orchestrate his own film scores, or did he use an orchestrator?
I must admit I do not always work on my own orchestrations; there is very often not sufficient time to do this, so I have an orchestrator or an arranger. Like I have already told you, directors always want the music yesterday, and it annoys me a little that the music is often the last thing that is considered on a movie. One of my very first arrangers and orchestrators was Ennio Morricone; he was also incidentally the best I ever used. 

And how did the composer work out his musical ideas?
I use a piano, and then I record the themes that I have put together, then I start to develop these and transcribe them. But I do sometimes write them straight down onto the manuscript. 

I also asked the composer if he had a favourite score for a film, either by himself or by another composer?
There are two scores of my own that I like very much, C’ERA, UNA VOLTA, which was called MORE THAN A MIRACLE outside of Italy, and directed by Francesco Rosi, this starred Sophia Loren and Omar Sharif. I also liked LIGHT AT THE EDGE OF THE WORLD, this was directed by Kevin Billington who is British, the film starred Kirk Douglas and Yul Brynner. 
Remaining with THE LIGHT AT THE EDGE OF THE WORLD, which was a movie that had its screenplay based on the story by Jules Verne, the film was very heavily edited when it was released, and at times was so badly cut the storyline became fragmented and hard to follow. I asked the composer if he had experienced any problems on the movie?
No, not at all, but I did see the film before it was so badly cut. I really enjoyed working on the film, and as I have said I regard it as one of my best scores for the cinema. The director was very pleased with my work on his film, in fact he was so impressed with one of the sections that I scored, that he asked for all of the sound effects to be removed on the soundtrack, so my music was more prominent. 

The soundtrack was issued on General Music records originally, and has subsequently been re-issued onto CD by Alhambra in Germany. General music or GDM as it is known today was founded by a number of prominent composers, Piccioni was one of these.
I was actually the founder of the company, it was a record company, but more importantly it was a music publishing company. The other composers involved with the establishing of the company were, Ennio Morricone, Luis Bacalov and Armando Trovajoli. Enrico De Melias who is also now Morricone’s manager was a partner. The company is still active today and has begun to re-issue a number of its older soundtracks, some on its own label and others under license to various companies around the world. 

On the subject of CD re-issues, did the composer think that enough of his music was available on compact disc or record?
No, never enough (laughs).
Was he engaged on anything for the cinema or television at the moment?
Recently I have been working on a film with my good friend Alberto Sordi, this is a documentary which deals with the philosophy and sociology of soccer, this will be aired by the Italian television network RAI, and then hopefully shown around the world. 

IL MOMENTO DELLA VERITA or MOMENT OF TRUTH, contained a wonderful score, which was a fusion of jazz flavours and symphonic styles. An original and unique way of scoring a movie. I asked the composer if he was asked to score the movie in this way, or did he decide to tackle the assignment like this?
The ideas on this were all mine, I was in charge on this film for the music. 

When did the composer like to become involved on a film?
As early as possible, but relay it is not good until the film is in its rough cut stage, if I am given a script it is almost useless to me, as scripts change all of the time and are very rarely intact by the time that it comes to filming. 
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And in what order did he score a film, from start to finish, larger cues first or how did he tackle the work?

I actually prefer to start from the end of the movie, I can then see the films climax and develop the rest of the score from there, maybe this seems a little odd to you, as many other composers work from the start of the film, but I find that this is the best way to work. 

Did he conduct all of his scores or just some of them?
I conduct at least 80% of my music for film, but there have been times when circumstances that have arisen make it impossible for me to conduct, so I have someone else work with the orchestra, whilst I am in the recording booth, but I still supervise what is going on musically, and if I am not happy with something I am able to change it. By this I might think the music will work when I am writing it, but in the recording studio I might think NO this is not working.

My final question to the composer was what was the largest orchestra that he had ever employed?
The largest orchestra that I have worked with so far is a 97 players that included a 60 strong string section; this was for a ballet “STRESS” which was performed at the Lyric theatre in Palermo Sicily.

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Piero Piccioni died on July 23rd 2004 in Rome  Italy. He scored well over 300 movies in his illustrious career.

Many thanks to the Maestro,s family, in particular Jason Piccioni for their assistance with this article.