Category Archives: Biographical Essays





Bernardo Bertolucci was born in Parma Italy on March 16th, 1941, His Father Atilio Bertolucci was a well thought of poet. Bertolucci spent much of his childhood in the beautiful countryside that surrounded Parma and was surrounded by a close and loving family environment. Many would say that he had a somewhat privileged upbringing which allowed the young man to focus more upon the artistic side of things, it was when he was a teenager that he first began to show an interest in films and at one time used to make movies on a 16mm camera that he had borrowed from a friend. In 1956 Bertolucci made two short films, MORTE DI UN MAIALE and LA TELEFERICA the latter being about a group of children that had become lost in a wood. In the late 1950’s his family decided to move to Rome, where Bernardo started to study literature hoping to continue in his Fathers footsteps.



But his passion for film making was always his first love and in 1961 he decided to cease his studies and went to work with Piero Pasolini on ACCATTONE as an assistant director. Bertolucci was in his element working with Pasolini and he not only had much respect for the film maker but the two became friends. Things began to move quickly career wise in the early 1960’ with Bertolucci having his first book IN SEARCH OF MYSTERY published and winning an award for it. It was also at this time that he got his break into directing in his own right, this was for mainly due to the help and interest of Tonino Cervi, who assisted Bertolucci to make his debut on THE GRIM REAPER, this was a film that was based upon a story by Pasolini and one which should have originally been directed by Pasolini also. In 1964 the director worked on BEFORE THE REVOLUTION and we see within this movie many of the trademarks, thoughts and messages that would manifest themselves in future projects.


The film was successful at that years Canne film festival and alerted many to Bertolucci’s talent behind the camera. It also was at this time that he began work on the ideas that would eventually form the script for Sergio Leone’s ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST. At just 21 Bertolucci had become an in-demand director, going on to make movies such as PARTNER and AMORE RABBIA in 1968. But it was not realy until THE CONFORMIST was released that the director was fully accepted within the film making fraternity and was nominated for an Oscar for his screenplay.


It was in 1972 that the director really hit the spotlight with his steamy and controversial film THE LAST TANGO IN PARIS. Which starred the iconic American actor Marlon Brando, in a tale about a widower who wanted to change his somewhat drab life by having a sensual relationship with a young French girl, the film caused outcry and in Italy was withdrawn from cinema’s and Bertolucci was charged with obscenity and a display of lewd behaviour and was not allowed to vote or have any rights as an Italian citizen for five years.


Fifteen years later LAST TANGO IN PARIS was given the green light to be screened in Italy and copies that had been impounded and stored at The National Film Library were eventually made available. These however were heavily censored, and it was only thanks to copies of the movie that were held in foreign libraries that we finally got to see Bertolucci’s film as the director had intended on DVD. In my opinion LAST TANGO IN PARIS is possible one of the most successful Italian made movies, but this is probably due to much of the hype and notoriety that it generated whilst being banned. It earned Bertolucci a well-deserved Oscar nomination for best director. In 1976 the director stepped into the epic and historic genre with his film 1900. Which was major motion picture that looked at a post war Italy and many of the political and social aspects of the country at that time.



Bertolucci had collaborated with composer Ennio Morricone from an early stage of his career and it was Morricone that the director turned to create the soundtrack for this sprawling classic. Morricone did not disappoint and fashioned a score of a monumental scale that was filled with luscious themes and intimate and fragile leitmotivs, Bertolucci thought that the theme that Morricone had written could have easily served as the National Anthem for Italy.


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The film looked at life from two different prospective’ s, two young boys from different classes forming the focus of the story. It looked at their lives, struggles, loves, hopes and achievements over a span of 45 years. The film had an impressive cast including, Burt Lancaster, Robert de Niro, Donald Sutherland and Gerard Deardiue. However, the movie had something of a luke warm reception outside of Italy and only later did it achieve the status it so deserves. The 1970’s were coming to an end and the director was to make two movies that were not that well received by critics and cinema goers alike, TRAGEDY OF A RIDICULOUS MAN and THE MOON, were sadly flops at the box office internationally and it was not until 1987, with his colourful and beautifully shot epic THE LAST EMPORER did we see Bertolucci make a comeback, winning nine academy awards including best director and best picture THE LAST EMPORER was a superb motion picture, that also swept the board at the David di Donatello awards also winning nine gongs.




The film was festooned with awards and nominations and is still a wonderful motion picture, not loosing any of its power or drama.




The film was an account of the life of China’s last Emperor, Pu Yi and charted his life from the early days of his childhood through to the end of his days which were spent as a gardener in a post-Revolutionary China. Bertolucci is one of the worlds most respected film makers his visions and messages trickling down to audiences in cinema’s via his images on the silver screen, the director went onto create beautiful and gracious movies in the form of THE LITTLE BUDDAH, SHELTERING SKY, STEALING BEAUTY, BESEIGED and THE TRIUMPH OF LOVE.








The name of John Hollingsworth is synonyms with Hammer films, why? Because Hollingsworth was the studios musical director, he was responsible for scoring, conducting and supervising the music department at Hammer, it was Hollingsworth that gave composers such as James Bernard, Richard Rodney Bennet, Malcom Williamson, Don Banks and Gary Hughes. Hollingsworth began his duties at Hammer in 1954, his first assignment being THE STRANGER CAME HOME. Hollingsworth had worked for Hammer previously in 1951, when he acted as musical director on NEVER LOOK BACK. But, it was when he took over from Ivor Slaney full time in 1954, that Hollingsworth began to make his mark upon the high quality of the scores that were utilised by the studio. Hollingsworth had conducted for James Bernard before Hammer, and they collaborated on the music for two radio plays, THE DEATH OF HECTOR and THE DUCHESS OF MALFI, and it was the latter score that made Hollingsworth think of Bernard when it came to assigning a composer on THE QUATERMASS XPERIMENT, the score had originally been given to John Hotchkiss, but because the composer fell ill during writing the score, Hammer needed a composer quickly, Hollingsworth asked Bernard who accepted and the rest they say is History as far as Bernard is concerned.



Hollingsworth was born in Enfield Middlesex on March 20th, 1916, he was educated at Bradfield college and then went onto to study music at the Guildhall School of Music. As early as 1937, Hollingsworth had become an accomplished conductor, and found himself conducting the London Symphony Orchestra. During the second world war, he joined the RAF, and in 1943, became the first RAF sergeant to conduct The National Symphony Orchestra, he toured with the NSO and gave concerts in both the UK and the USA. He conducted concerts in front of many dignitaries and world leaders, which included, Stalin, Truman and Churchill. After the war Hollingsworth became much in demand and became assistant to Muir Matheson and worked on films such as BRIEF ENCOUNTER. After three years Hollingsworth became musical director at the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden, London. This was an association that would endure some ten years, he also became principal conductor for The Tunbridge Wells Symphony Orchestra during this time and was assistant conductor to Sir Malcolm Sargent at the Proms.



Hollingsworth, stayed at Hammer until 1963, his last scoring assignment being THE DEVIL SHIP PIRATES, he was working on THE EVIL OF FRANKENSTEIN which was composed by Don Banks when he passed away at his home in London. He died of T.B. on December 29th, 1969.





Australian-born composer and multi-instrumentalist, trained on piano, saxophone, violin and trombone. The son of a jazz musician, he grew up and was educated in Melbourne. After serving with the Army Medical Corps during the war years, he studied at the University Conservatorium of Music and graduated with a diploma in composition. Banks moved to England in 1950 to continue his training under the Hungarian émigré Matyas Seiber, while supporting himself financially as a sideman in a dance band.



During the 1950’s, he composed a number of concertos and chamber music which attracted critical notice. He won several prestigious awards, including the Sir Arnold Bax Society Medal (1959). One of his works, ‘Four Pieces for Orchestra’ was performed by the London Philharmonic in 1954. Due in part to his father’s legacy, he also remained very much steeped in jazz, both as a player and as arranger. He became more prolific as a jazz composer after cultivating a friendship with Cleo Laine and John Dankworth. The resulting creative partnership spawned a series of works which fused classical music and jazz, including “Settings from Roget” (1966). He later created pieces like ‘Nexus’ (1971), for jazz quartet and symphony orchestra; and ‘Take 8’ (1973) for jazz and string quartet. Furthermore, Banks was at the cutting edge of combining traditional acoustic instruments with electronics, including using some of the first available synthesizers, eventually becoming a founding member of the British Society for Electronic Music.




Primarily for commercial reasons, Don Banks joined Hammer studios in 1962. He wrote several atmospheric scores for thrillers and horror films, working in tandem with musical directors Philip Martell and John Hollingsworth. Best among a body a body of diverse and polished works, are his jazzy, typically 60’s ‘film noir’ score for Hysteria (1965); his eerie, dramatic theme for Nightmare (1964), full of foreboding and hidden terror; and the equally evocative score for The Reptile (1966), with its predominant Indian motifs.


Banks left Hammer after five years to resume, what he regarded as more serious musical pursuits. In 1972, he returned to Australia to take up a position with the Canberra School of Music, followed thereafter by appointments to the music board of the Australian Council for the Arts and as head of composition to the New South Wales Conservatorium of Music. Physically frail and afflicted for the last eight years of his life by leukemia, he died in September 1980, aged 56.




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.






When one thinks of Wally Stott I think you straight away remember the GOON show, as it was Stott who was musical director for many of these madcap pieces of comedy genius that featured the likes of Peter Sellers, Spike Milligan and Harry Secombe. Born Walter


Wally Stott on March 10th,1924. Stott later in life (1972) underwent sex reassignment surgery and returned to composing as Angela Morley. Stott often attributed his entry into music composition and arranging to the influences of the light music composer conductor Robert Farnon and it was within the area of light music or easy listening as we refer to it nowadays that Stott first made a name for himself. Writing popular pieces of music that were loved by the music buying public in England during the 1950’s.


He was also involved in writing music for radio broadcasts and provided the now familiar theme and incidental music for Hancock’s Half Hour, it was also during this period that Stott began to work as the musical director for the third series of THE GOON SHOW, which began to run from 1952 and finished in 1960. He also composed the 12, note theme for Lew Grades ATV channel that introduced each of the company’s programs from 1969 through to 1981 when the company stopped production. He began a long association with Phillips records in 1953, and would arrange the backing tracks and direct the orchestra for various artists that recorded on the label.


He also released albums as an artist in his own right one of the most popular being LONDON PRIDE which was released in 1958. In 1958, he provided the musical accompaniment and was the MD for Shirley Bassey and was featured on Bassey’s 1959 hit single, AS I LOVE YOU which reached the top of the British hit parade in the January of that year.



He also worked with Dusty Springfield. Frankie Vaughn, Roy Castle and Harry Secombe as well as collaborating with Scott Walker on the singers first four albums. In 1962 and 1963 Stott arranged the UK’s entries for the Eurovision song contest. RING A DING GIRL and SAY WONDERFUL THINGS which were both performed by Ronnie Carroll. In 1962, Stott acted as arranger for the debut album of Italian tenor Sergio Franchi, entitled ROMANTIC ITALIAN SONGS, which was released on the RCA RED SEAL label and later arranged and conducted the music for Franchi’s second album also on RCA entitled WOMEN IN MY LIFE. In 1974 as Angela Morley the composer was nominated twice for an Academy Award in the category of best music and original song score/adaptation, this was for THE LITTLE PRINCE and THE SLIPPER AND THE ROSE, on which she collaborated with Douglas Gamley, Alan Jay Lerner, Frederick Lowe for THE LITTLE PRINCE and Richard M Sherman and Robert B Sherman on THE SLIPPER AND THE ROSE. She was the first transgender person to be nominated for an Academy Award.


In later years Morley received Emmy nominations for composing music for television series such as Dynasty, Falcon Crest, Hotel and Dallas. Morley also worked on many American TV shows, these included CAGNEY AND LACEY, WONDER WOMAN, BLUE SKIES and McClain’s LAW. She won two Emmy Awards for her work in music arrangement, these were in the category of Outstanding Achievement in Music Direction, in 1988 and 1990, both for television specials starring actress Julie Andrews. She also composed sections of the score for WATERSHIP DOWN in 1978.



After this She began to work with composer John Williams, but mainly in an un-credited role providing arrangements for the composer to conduct with the famed BOSTON POPS ORCHESTRA and regularly conducted the BBC radio orchestra and the BBC Big Band. She died in Scottsdale Arizona on January 14th, 2009 aged 84.