Information about the composer was gathered from his widow Fiona Searle a number of years ago and this information has been transcribed from a letter that she sent to me on March 22nd 1996. In which she responded to questions that I had sent to her. I thought it was fitting to publish this now, as it would have been the composers 99th birthday this year.
JM. Where was your husband born, and what musical education did he receive?
F.S. “Composer Humphrey Searle was born in Oxford England on August 26th 1915, He received some musical education whilst attending school in Winchester, he attended college in Oxford and studied the classics, after leaving college he won a scholarship to study at The Royal College of music in London. He also took private tuition at around the same time as attending The Royal College of Music with John Ireland. Searle then was offered an opportunity to study with Anton Von Werbern in 1937 in Vienna, he was the only British composer to study with Von Werbern”.
J.M. How did he become involved in writing music for film?
F.S. “I think it was sheer chance that H.S. first wrote for the cinema, he was asked to write the score for the film THE BABY AND THE BATTLESHIP, after the originally commissioned composer was dropped by the films producers. The music was a great success for him and gained him a reputation for being able to work quickly, often delivering the scores before the allotted deadline and also for being able to create good atmospheric music”.
J.M. Recently Silva Screen have included a re-recording of your husbands atmospheric music for THE HAUNTING, did you have the manuscripts for the company to work on their reconstruction?
F.S.” No I did not have the original manuscripts, Philip Lane who did the re-construction work had to acquire the rough scores from the British library (who have all the manuscripts, letters etc) and he did an excellent job re-constructing THE HAUNTING score”.
J.M. Your husband worked for Hammer films how did he become involved with the company?
F.S.” I am not quite sure how he became involved with Hammer, but I think it was something to do with John Hollingsworth, who was at the time working for them also”.
J.M. What was your husbands working relationship like with Haunting director Robert Wise?
F.S.” Humphrey got on very well with Robert. He and his wife Pat became great friends of ours and we later visited them at their home in Hollywood”.
J.M How much time did your Husband have to complete the score for THE HAUNTING; I ask this because it was quite a complex score?
F.S.” I think Humphrey had very little time to complete the music for THE HAUNTING, but this is something that is normal for composers, who work in film it is the nature of the job”.
J.M. Did your husband have a favourite piece of music that he had composed, or maybe a favourite film score?
F.S.” I can’t really answer that as I am not really sure if he had a favourite, but I do know he was very fond of the settings of James Joyce’s ULYSSES, which I know was very important to him”.
J.M. Did he orchestrate all of his own music?
F.S.” Yes he did, he felt that that was an important part of composing, he also conducted a great deal of his concert music and all of his music for film, BBC radio and Television works”.
J.M. Did he conduct his score for THE ABOMINABLE SNOWMAN, as this was a Hammer production and normally John Hollingsworth did the honours?
F.S. “I cant be sure about that particular score, I know that H.S knew John very well and respected him very much, so maybe Hollingsworth did conduct on that occasion, but H.S scored that film before I had met him “.
J.M. How did he compose his music, did he use an instrument or write straight to manuscript?
F.S. “He would compose at his old upright piano, which he had inherited from his Grandfather who was a Church of England minister who composed music for the Church”.
J.M. I understand that some of your husband’s music is being recorded very soon?
F.S. “Yes, the 2nd 3rd and 5th symphonies are to be released in *May (I think) this is for C.P.O. They will be conducted by Alun Francis with the Scottish symphony Orchestra. David Sutton Anderson is currently writing the notes for the sleeve.
list of the composers works.