When you think about it the music of composer Roy Budd was a very big part of going to the cinema during the 1970, s, and on and into the late 1980, s. He scored some of the most popular movies that were produced during this period, and it all started with SOLDIER BLUE, which very soon became a movie with a reputation, probably for all the wrong reasons, but nevertheless Roy’s music was a key feature of that movie, he followed the success of SOLDIER BLUE with numerous soundtracks for a varied collection of films and was also responsible for creating catchy themes for TV shows such as THE SANDBAGGERS and MR ROSE. He was responsible for the stirring themes for THE WILD GEESE and also THE SEA WOLVES, fashioned another great western score in the form of his music for CATLOW, and treated audiences to some atmospheric music for so many other pictures, THE BLACK WINDMILL, THE STONE KILLER, TOMORROW NEVER COMES, THE FLIGHT OF THE DOVES, GET CARTER, ZEPPLIN, DIAMONDS, KIDNAPPED, SOMETHING TO HIDE, THE MARSEILLE CONTRACT, FEAR IS THE KEY, WHO DARES WINS,WILD GEESE 2, SINBAD AND THE EYE OF THE TIGER,THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN DEADLY SINS, MAMA DRACULA, FIELD OF HONOUR etc, in fact the list is indeed endless.
One of his best loved scores is for PAPER TIGER, which starred David Niven. The music for this is so varied and haunting, and included a hit song, WHO KNOWS THE ANSWERS, which was performed by THE MIKE SAMMES SINGERS, and had lyrics by Sammy Cahn, the score also featured performances from THE RAY CONNIFF SINGERS and for me was a fusion of the styles of Goldsmith and Mancini, being highly dramatic and stirring, but at the same time having at its core a fully romantic sounding theme, which were given the Budd treatment. Its highly emotive themes and surging strings, evoking all the splendour and magnificence of those great film themes of the past.
On Sunday October 8th, there is a very special performance of Roy’s magnificent score for the 1925, silent movie THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA, which starred Lon Chaney, Roy worked tirelessly to fashion the score for this movie, and put all that he possibly could into its creation. Sadly, it was his dedication to this project, and his quest for musical perfection that ultimately cost him his life. PHANTOM the score, is a standing testimony to the genius and artistry of this wonderful composer and generously kind man, who was taken from us far too soon. Nick Hocart is one of the dedicated people behind bringing the concert or performance to fruition, I asked him a few questions about it and his thoughts about the music of Roy Budd.
Have you always been a fan of Roy Budd and how did you become involved with the live performance of Roy Budd’s THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA?
Unfortunately, Roy passed away when I was too young to have seen any of the films he scored, and I was unaware of his talent. I studied music at school and left Australia seeking a career in the industry. Four years ago, I was introduced to Sylvia Budd, who told me all about Roy’s career, his phantom of the opera score and his commission to write his first opera for the Berlin Opera. I was shocked that such a brilliant composer and accomplished musician was not more widely held up as an influence and role model in the British music scene, and more so that his masterpiece score had never been publicly performed. Having heard the score Roy wrote to Phantom I agreed to help Sylvia make the live performance happen – it’s going to be incredible to hear this music performed live.
What size orchestra will be performing on the night, and was it an easy task getting an orchestra involved in the project and a conductor?
We have a 77, piece orchestra, the Docklands Sinfonia performing the score for the premiere in the London Coliseum. The score was written for an 84, piece orchestra, it’s an incredibly full and rich piece of music, but the challenge is space for all the musicians! We may yet have to reduce the orchestra by a couple of strings to fit all the percussion in the pit too, but however many musicians we can fit in, we will!
The conductor and founder of the orchestra, Spencer Down, has been hugely excited to make this happen from the outset, and his involvement has been crucial to getting to where we are today.
If the performance on October 8th is successful, do you think that maybe there could be other dates arranged at other venues?
We do have interest to do more shows in other parts of the world, and we would hope further interest to do more shows in the UK too. There are people waiting for this opportunity to hear the music first hand, to see if Roy was successful in making the transition from jazz to classical maestro. I hope they won’t be disappointed.
Would a concert of the music of Roy Budd be something that you or his estate would consider, I am sure that there are so many fans old and new out there that would love to hear his music performed live?
This is a tougher one – while I don’t have the full history I understand that Roy parted ways with his former agent, there were issues, and some of the music remains outside the control of Roy’s estate. Hypothetically – it would be great to put together some of Roy’s classic scores for a grand performance.
I know when I interviewed Roy just before he died he was so passionate and excited about the score he had written for PHANTOM, why did it take so long for the music to be released onto a recording?
When you meet Sylvia, you understand that she is still very much in love with Roy and his passing must have been devastating to her. There were also issues to sort out as well as illness over the years – but what matters is it is available for fans now as well as the opportunity to hear the performance live!
What for you is the appeal of Roy Budd’s music?
Firstly, I couldn’t believe the score to Phantom the first time I heard it – it really takes the film to a new level – you need to see the film with the score to realise the effect it has. After that introduction to his music I went back through his jazz works and he has fantastic speed and timing, and is clearly a perfectionist – never a note or beat that doesn’t sound exactly like it should be where he’s playing it. Listen to a song like I’ll remember April and it sounds like a classic jazz standard, except it’s got his stamp of originality on it, his sound, little runs on the piano that sound deceivingly simple. Also watch any video of Roy performing – he’s clearly having a great time performing and leading his musicians who are all watching him closely for cues and following his lead. Amazing musician, performer, composer!
Soldier Blue was Roy’s first major film score, a great soundtrack, but unfortunately the actual score, remains un-released, there is so much music in the movie, I hope one day to see this released, do you think it will ever happen?
I need to refer to my earlier answer on his older work here – I don’t know the history or where the rights may be at this point in time. All my efforts to date have been to bring about the performance of Phantom. Who knows what a successful performance may bring about…
My thanks to Nick for taking the time to answer my questions and for his dedication to the memory and the music of Roy Budd. I truly hope that the live performance of THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA score by Roy Budd, will be a great success, please if you can support this event. See you there……..