Roberto Gerhard is probably not a composer one would consider when talking about film music, however he did score two movies during his career, his first, THE SECRET PEOPLE (1954), which was an early role for Audrey Hepburn is best remembered for its poor performance at the box office and the second THIS SPORTING LIFE (1963) for its unusually modern sounding musical soundtrack and also because of the rather spikey relationship that developed between the composer and the film’s director Lindsay Anderson, whilst they collaborated on the project. Anderson was known for being strong willed and difficult, but Gerhard was equally stubborn and the two very often clashed which resulted in sections of the composer’s music being removed from the final cut of the movie. Which was something of a surprise as Anderson who had written a book entitled MAKING A FILM based upon the failings of the movie THE SECRET PEOPLE had gone out of his way to engage Gerhard on THIS SPORTING LIFE.
Gerhard wrote extensively for the concert hall and contributed some interesting scores and themes for TV series such as THE COUNT OF MONTE CHRISTO, FOR WHOM THE BELL TOLLS and WAR IN THE AIR during the 1950’s and 1960’s. His work for the concert hall included Ballet’s, symphonies, chamber music and early experimental electronic music as in THE LAMENT FOR THE BULLFIGHTER-FOR SPEAKER AND TAPE in 1958, the composer was also associated with the BBC radiophonic workshop during its early days from the late 1950’s through to the mid 1960’s.
Gerhard was born, Robert Gerhard I Ottenwalder on September 25, th 1896, in Vallis Spain, which is in the Catalonian area of the country. The composer studied piano with Granados and was also schooled in the art of composition by Felipe Pedrell, after the death of his teacher Pedrell the composer decided to relocate to Vienna where he continued his studies under Arnold Schoneberg, In the latter part of the 1920’s Gerhard returned to Spain and settled in Barcelona, where he became associated with many prominent figures who were under scrutiny by the Franco government for their republican sympathies. As the civil war in Spain grew imminent the composer was forced to flee the country initially to France but soon moved to England where he settled in Cambridge. Soon after settling in England that composer established himself by producing a handful of works for both orchestra and stage. In 1955 he wrote the score for The Royal Shakespeare Companies production of KING LEAR for which he received high critical acclaim. He died on January 5th, 1970 in Cambridge England.