HANS MAY, UNSUNG HERO OF THE SILVER SCREEN.

 

Composer Hans May, was born as Johannes Mayer on July 11th,1886, in Vienna, Austria.
Although at the time it was referred to as Austro/Hungaria. He left his native Vienna after the Nazis began to take power at first settling in France and eventually heading for the shores of England in 1936 after his Jewish roots began to put him in danger from the Nazis. The composer was known mainly at the beginning of his career for writing songs, many of which became popular and firm favourites throughout Europe. He also composed original scores for silent movies in both Berlin and Paris, and was much in demand for this during the mid-1920, s through to the 1930, s. He visited England in 1930, but at this time focused primarily upon the scoring of German pictures and projects. With the advent of the talkies and sound the composer came into his own and would often work on films that were operettas, or musicals, he re-located to France in the latter part of 1934, and worked on THE MAYERLING in 1935. His career was successful within the area of writing music for film, albeit mainly for shorts and musicals and after settling in London in the late 1930,sthe composer began to write for more and more feature length films and reached his creative and most prolific peak during the 1940,s, working on a varied collection of motion pictures which were produced by The Boulting Brothers and Rank/Gainsborough Pictures, most notably THE WICKED LADY and the classic motion picture BRIGHTON ROCK in 1947.

But it was his score for THUNDER ROCK in 1942 that attracted attention to the composer, the movie which was a Boulting Brothers production, starred Michael Redgrave, James Mason and Barbara Mullen, and was a psychological thriller/fantasy. By the summer of 1944, the composer was employed by The Rank Organisation, which was at the time the largest production company in England. May scored a long line of highly successful and popular movies, one of the first being THE MADONNA OF THE SEVEN MOONS in 1944.

 

Which was the film that established him as one of the leading figures in film scoring and one of the Fathers of the British Golden age of music for the cinema. The composer was granted permission by the British Government to continue to work in his chosen career during the dark days of the second world war and as the war came to an end could continue writing music for movies that were produced by British companies. His career continued through to the 1950, s and he was responsible for not only writing film scores but also for collaborating with various lyricists on many songs and for co-writing musicals such as the west end show, WEDDING IN PARIS (1954), which was a great success on the London stage with actor Anton Walbrook in the lead role. He also returned to scoring movies in his homeland and worked on a handful of German productions in the late 1950, s.

 

It was not until 1957 that the composer returned to the European continent and resumed writing for both film and stage productions. His first scoring assignment being in his own place of birth Austria when he scored the movie, DER KAISER UND DAS WASCHERMADEL. There is no doubt if the composer had been born some four decades earlier he would have become an important figure within the Viennese operetta golden age, his style being very similar and evocative of some of his older contemporaries such as FERENCZ LEHAR and EMMERICH KALMAN. Let us not forget that May was responsible for some of the most successful German language songs from the 1930, s such as ES WIRD IM LEBEN DIR MEHR GENOMMEN ALS GEGEBEN in 1936 and EIN LIED GEHT UM DIE WELT in 1933.

 

 

 

He was truly a composer for all genres and was easily able to turn his talents of composition and orchestration to film, and adapting and creating wonderful pieces for both stage and musical theatre. Hans May was not only an incredibly gifted composer and a talented musician, but during the 1920, s was also a performer. During the 1950, s, the composer’s health began to deteriorate, and he passed away on January 2nd, 1959 in the South of France.

 

 

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