Hammer films from the late 1950,s and the 1960,s certainly made their mark upon the cinema going public all over the world, the music for these Horror classics also hit the right spot with collectors of soundtracks, sadly when the films were at their most popular the music from them was not available. Thanks to recording companies such as GDI many of the original scores have been saved and preserved forever on compact disc, and also labels such as Silva Screen put a lot of time and effort into having many musical excerpts from Hammer scores re-recorded. The latest hammer score to receive the re-recording treatment is THE CURSE OF THE WEREWOLF, this is most certainly a classic horror movie in every sense of the word, released in 1959, it was this movie that marked the starring role debut if a very young almost unknown Oliver Reed, who was to become one of Britain’s most respected actors. Reed was paid the princely sum of £90.00 per week on this movie, at the time he was heard to say that this was a fortune. Directed by Hammers star filmmaker Terence Fisher, the film tells the story of Leon who is born on Christmas day to a mute servant girl, the girl who was raped by a beggar dies giving birth to the child and he is taken in by Don Alfredo, played by the excellent Welsh actor Clifford Evens. After a while Leon begins to realize that he has something of an attraction to the taste of blood, and is afflicted by Lycanthropy which makes him change into a werewolf at the cycle of the full moon. The child’s first victims are animals a goat and a kitten, but he soon progresses to larger victims in the human form. The films scenes of savage violence were a cause for concern to the censors, they cut over 4 minutes from the original version of the movie, John Trevelyan felt obliged to cut the footage, but at the same time wrote to Anthony Hinds at Hammer apologizing for doing so, the full version of the movie was screened in the United States and that unedited version returned to the UK in the early part of 1990, and is thankfully now available on DVD. The musical score was almost as harrowing and violent sounding as the content of the movie,  composed by the London Born composer Benjamin Frankel, this is one of the finest scores written for a Hammer production, and has been on the wish list of many a film music enthusiast to be released in its entirety. The score for THE CURSE OF THE WEREWOLF is a significant and very important one, as it is the first score for a film that is composed using the twelve notes of the chromatic scale,Frankel based his score for the movie on sections of his Symphony number 1.

The Curse of the Werewolf
The Curse of the Werewolf (Photo credit: jon rubin)

Frankel’s music on THE CURSE OF THE WEREWOLF is highly original and at the time of it’s composition was thought of as being  something of an experimental and modern approach to scoring a movie, but it supported, punctuated and embellished superbly the scenes of horror and mayhem that were unfolding up on the screen, driving the action and underlining the terror and almost chaotic and frenzied marauding of the werewolf in its search for blood. Frankel’s score also i thought created a greater atmosphere of urgency and also a sense of sadness and frustration. This 35 minute re-recording of the score is certainly well worth investing in, it is performed with an abundance of  energy by the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, who launch themselves into the performance under the baton of world renowned composer/conductor Carl Davis. The compact disc also contains a suite of music from Frankel’s score to the 1950 movie SO LONG AT THE FAIR, the love theme from THE NET (1953) and over thirty minutes of music from the 1955 movie THE PRISONER which is a world premiere recording. The disc is presented well with striking art work and contains some very informative notes by the composers step son Dimitri Kennaway. This is a compact disc that should be in your music collection and  is worth a lot more than it’s meager £5.99p price tag.









When did you start to become interested in film music.


Since I first became aware of the TV. So when I was a very young child. But I started buying film and TV music when I was about 15 years old.


what was your first soundtrack purchase.


 Midnight Cowboy


What composers do you give preference to.


I don’t really have any preferences. It’s whoever I am listening to at the time, or whatever album I am trying to track down.


you are a dj as well, and you have a radio show on saturdays I understand, where you talk about and play film music, can you tell us a bit about the programme and how you started to present it.




Yes, the show is called OST and it’s on Resonance FM here in London. You can hear it on FM or on line. I had always wanted to do a film music radio show, and I found out about Resonance early on and sent over a proposal I had been working on. They asked me to start three day later. I had to present it myself – it was little scary to start with, but then you quickly realise that mistakes, “erms” and “aahs” are OK, and that the music is much more important. Every week the show has a theme, and in four years I have covered masses of genres, sub genres and composers. There are also regular guests, I love it, and feel very lucky to have the show.



your record label has released a lot of interesting albums, one of your up an coming releases is BLOOD ON SATANS CLAW, this is a classic british horror and the soundtrack by Marc Wilkinson is very good, how did you manage to get this soundtrack, I ask this because I was trying to get this for GDI, and was told that Channel 4 owned it, and also that the composer was not interested ?




You were mis-informed! This has come about like all the other albums I produce, through hard work, determination and a bit of common sense. But for every successful release, ten planned releases fall by the wayside and never come out.




Staying with BLOOD ON SATANS CLAW, were the tapes in good condition, or did you have to do a lot of restoration on them, and did Marc Wilkinson have a lot of input into what actually went onto the final disc.




The tapes were alright, but a little restoration here and there was still necessary. It sounds great now. Marc didn’t have much input, simply because he now uses a hearing aid and every time he listened to something he’d say “remember I have a hearing aid”. Basically the whole recording will be reproduced.



How many soundtracks do you have in your collection.


Thousands. All on vinyl. Very few on CD.





                          Dawn of the Dead cover



Do you like other collectors get frustrated about soundtracks that deserve a release and dont get one ie WITCHFINDER GENERAL, ?




Well that’s the very nature of things at this high end of film music collecting. Thousands of film music recordings are out there, lots, all unheard. Laws. licensing, dead composerss and complex ownership rights make it often impossible for them to ever get heard. Incidentally Witchfinder will be coming out next year. De Wolfe music who own the recording will be issuing it.




If you could release a soundtrack that has not been issued which one would it be , and why, and what projects have you got lined up for the future?




I can’t tell you all my secrets.




Ok lets play desert island discs, what 10 soundtracks would you take with you if you were marooned on a desert island ?


Well here is the current top ten. If you asked me the same question tomorrow it would be completely different.

Il Grande Silenzio – Morricone

Kes -John Cameron

Hans Chrsitina Anderson – Frank Loesser

The Conversation – David Shire

Midnight Cowboy – John Barry

Dumbo – frank Churchill

Rosemary’s baby – Komeda

The Brown Bunny – (Various)

7 Dollari Sul Russo – De Masi

The Clangers – Vernon Elliot.






Are there any soundtracks that you have wanted to release but could not because the tapes were in such poor condition ?





Not yet. But I’m sure there will be as tapes get older.


Many thanks to Jonny



Composer Jean-Claude Petit was born in Vaires St Mark in France, on November 14th 1943, he began to play the piano at the very early age of 5 years, and he also at this time began to learn the rudiments of music and composition. At ten years of age, Petit began studying at the Conservatoire National Supereur de Musique inParis. Whilst attending the Conservatoire he received a first place medal in Solfa, and also three first prizes in harmony, counterpoint and fugue. By his sixteenth birthday Petit had become an accomplished pianist, and would perform on stage with American jazz artistes such as Kenny Clarke, Johnny Griffin and Dexter Gordon. By the end of the 1960,s Petit had become a much sought after arranger within French show business circles, and was responsible for writing and also producing recordings etc, for Julien Clerc, Joan Baez, Michel Saradou, Mort Shuman, Gilbert Becaud, Claude Francoise, Serge Lama and Mink De Ville, also contributing songs to repotoire of artistes such as Juliette Greco, Alain Souchen and Marie Laforet. The composer was also responsible for the musical comedies, LA REVOLUTION FRANCAISE, MAYFLOWER and 36 FRONT POPULAIRE, and composed numerous jingles for advertisements etc. So he did not begin in music as a film music composer, but did he have film music in mind when he started to study music ? ” No, I dont think that I actually wanted to write for the cinema, aswell as my involvement with shows etc., I have contributed to all types of music. I have played on and also produced rock-jazz albums, these have included BABEL, which was with guitarist Philip Catherine, and a keyboard album which was called THE BEST OF ALL POSSIBLE WORLDS. I did not become involved with the composition of music for film until, 1979 when I scored a movie entitled TUSK for director Alexandro Jodorowski. I followed this in 1982 with VIVE LA SOCIALE which was directed by Gerard Mordillat”. Jean-Claude Petit, has also conducted a number of the worlds most well known orchestras, including The London Symphony Orchestra, The Munich Symphony Orchestra, The National Orchestra of France, L’Orchestre de Paris and the Orchestra of the Paris Opera. I asked if the composer always conducted his music for the cinema, and did he think that any composers had influenced him at all ? ” I conduct all of my own music, I could not hand it over to somebody else to conduct, that would be unthinkable, I also orchestrate all of my own music, again I do not think that I could endure somebody else working on my music. As for being influenced by other composers, my influences I think range from, J.S.Bach to G.Ligeti, also Theolodios Monk and Bill Evaks. I do not actually listen to a great deal of film music”. You have conducted your film music in concerts in various countries, have you ever considered coming to Englandfor a concert, and if the opportunity arose would you consider it ? ” You are right, I have conducted concerts which have contained symphonic suites from my film scores, but I have never been invited to come toEngland to do this. I would be extremely happy to conduct a concert in your country”.


When recording a score for a movie, do you have a preference for any particular orchestra ? ” Yes, I do prefer The London Symphony, for the sound that they are capable of achieving, and also The Orchestre de L,eperade Paris for their flexibility”.

Also when working on a score, how do you work out your musical ideas, and have you ever turned down an assignment, or had a score rejected ? ” No thankfully I have never had a score rejected, and I have also never refused to work on a film. When working on a score, I use a pencil paper and also I chew gum”.What about favourite scores had the composer any particular favourite from his own works ? ” Yes, I do like very much the music that I composed for the movie ” DUEX “, this starred Gerard Depardie and was directed by Claude Zidi”. On THE THREE MUSKETEERS, you utilised two orchestras, why was this ? ” For this particular film, I needed two styles of music, one was baroque, and for this I used The members of theAcademy of Ancient Music,and for the fully symphonic and contemporary music I utilised The London Symphony Orchestra”. The composer has also worked on a number of television scores, one in particular for the BBC called SEAFORTH. I enquired how the composer became involved with this particular project ? ” At that time my American agent, Jeff Kaufman approached the BBC and proposed me for the film, and I was lucky enough to get the job”. The composers scores for JEAN DE FLORETTE and MANON des SOURCES are probably his better known works for the cinema, and are the most widely known amongst collectors of film music, what size orchestra did the composer use for the scores, as they sounded intimate yet at times grandiose ? ” I used the Orchestra of Paris on these scores, and this consists of some 80 musicians”.When writing a score for a movie, did the composer have any set routine of working, i.e.; did he start at the main titles and work through to the end or did he sometimes tackle smaller or larger cues first ?

” I always begin with the main theme, and work through the scenes in order of appearance, this helps me develop the thematic properties within the score”. What was the maestro’s opinion of the standard of film music today, and also what did he think of the new generation of composers that have begun to work in film ? ” There has always been excellent film music composers around, in the past and also today there are some very talented people working in film. I am nevertheless concerned and worried about the power of the big recording companies, because of the way in which they impose the practise of the use of trendy songs and tunes on soundtracks, some of which appear on the soundtrack album, and have not actually been used in the film, they do this I think to get as much revenue out of the film as they possibly can”.

The composer has written the scores to a number of movies that are set within a time period, i.e.: THERETURN OF THE MUSKETEERS, CYRANO DE BERGERAC etc., etc. Did the maestro feel that he had been somewhat typecast at all, and was he happier working within one particular genre ?


” No, I do not think that I have been typecast at all, my cinema name (reputation) is born with a symphonic score, JEAN DE FLORETTE then CYRANO DE BERGARAC, but I can also write for a jazz quartet, a rock and roll orchestra or even do disco music “. And what was the composer working on at the moment ?” For cinema I have just completed two films, LUKUMBA and SEXES TRES OPPOSES, and for television a series LES MISERABLES which stars John Malkovich and Gerard Depardie.


23 November 2013
(United Kingdom)
Psycho Live!
Ulster Orchestra conducted by Richard Kaufman – Belfast Waterfront

BH1967BBC-300x226Program Info:
Hitchcock’s 1960 film Psycho, starring Anthony Perkins and Janet Leigh, was made on a low budget in black and white, but quickly became one of the most successful films of all time. It spawned numerous imitations none, as you shall appreciate again tonight, as good as the original!

Much of its tremendous impact is of course due to the music. Bernard Herrmann worked closely with Hitchcock on several of his films, in this case using only strings to create the hair-raising atmosphere, including the famous shower scene!

Bernard Herrmann – Psycho                                  1374659050_Psycho-2

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