Remember Music from the movies when it was in paper form as a magazine, remember silents to satellites, remember the man behind these and other publications that all concentrated on film and television music, well that was John Williams. here in this section are his thoughts, his articles and reviews, welcome back John…



A new album by Debbie Wiseman is always a welcome arrival A sign of true quality, of good taste, and sheer superb musicianship. In this instance, not a Soundtrack CD per se, but one that any lover of her unmistakably recognisable music will admire right from the very first track.

The first track though that said is not music. We have a tribute if that is the right word to the Garden. it could be here or indeed anywhere. A very canny move for all over the world, there are Garden fanatics and Music lovers. Why not put them together and you have a double triumph.

Alan Titchmarsh as we all know is a Multi talented broadcaster, author, pundit and Gardening Expert. He has written more books that I was aware of so it is obvious that poetry is a natural adjunct on from there. It maybe that I have missed it, but this could be a first specifically designed for Garden admirers. It may have been that Sir John Betjeman and Jim Parker did something similar back in the 70s etc, but I may wrong.

Be that as it may, we have twelve poems, written and read by Alan Titchmarsh, each poem followed by a musical portrait by Debbie Wiseman. Only on the last track, “The Glorious Garden” do music and poem combine together.

I suspect with even more listening my favourites will vary somewhat, but I love the strong and sturdy “Cedar of Lebanon”, the rousing and powerful “Topiary”, the soft and elegant “Snowdrop” but at the moment, my personal favourite is “Water Lily”, soft evocative opening that reminds one in a very positive way of Vaughan Williams. Debbie has written many compositions away from the Film and Television World, I wonder if she has ever contemplated writing a Symphony?. If so, it would be superb, for I think there is nothing she can’t do, for having listening to her music for a number of years now- I was privileged to write the CD notes for WILDE – I am so impressed that the standard she has kept up in a very fast moving world where deadlines are all important and the music has to be finished by a certain date. Still maybe it’s like Sir Andre Previn once said, you have to have that deadline to focus the mind and indeed finish the matter in hand.



I should also add wonderful playing by the National Symphony Orchestra led by Perry Montague – Mason with great solos by Violinist Jack Liebeck on “Myrtle” and “Snowdrop”, Gavin McNaughton (Bassoon ) on “Peony”, Andy Crowley (Trumpet) on “Marigold” and Debbie herself playing the piano on “Witch Hazel”

One can tell that Debbie was truly inspired by Alan’s poetry to compose such fine music. As I write, it is Number One in the Classic FM Charts and long may it reign

You can listen to either the poems, both , or just the music, and think of it perhaps as a score for Garden Documentary , but what ever way you listen to it, you will be rewarded with many hours of enjoyment, and how many albums can you say that about these days!

Of late Debbie has also been working on a movie entitled EDIE with Sheila Hancock , directed by Simon Hunter which will be released to the Cinemas on May 25th and the CD of the score will also released on that date by Silva Screen Records. Plus – good news all round – series 7 of FATHER BROWN which is just a delight, and I would love to see a commercial recording of the music ,for Debbie must have written hours of music for this entertaining series

To sum up, a most enjoyable album, to be enjoyed on many levels , A very worthy successor to last years MUSICAL ZODIAC. I love that album, and it helps when you like the music for your month of birth!.

We are indeed lucky to have talents as Alan Titchmarsh and Debbie Wiseman to provide us with so much enjoyment, via the written page and music. Let’s look forward to their next collaboration




John Cameron’s composing and arranging covers an amazing array of music genres, from rock, soul, jazz and folk music, through electronic, world, orchestral and choral music, working in film, television, theatre of all kinds, and recording. His career in music started in earnest at Cambridge University where he was Vice-President of the Footlights and busy in many forms of music, most notably the local jazz scene. On coming down, he was soon writing arrangements for artists such as Donovan (within 6 months he had his first no.1 hit in the US with Donovan’s Sunshine Superman that he arranged with Spike Heatley). John became Donovan’s music director, touring with him, and arranging hit singles Jennifer Juniper, & Epistle to Dippy, & the Sunshine Superman & Mellow Yellow albums, and subsequently arranging Donovan’s music for Ken Loach’s Poor Cow.
John went on to work extensively in Television, as music director and arranger for three series of Once More With Felix (with folk-singer Julie Felix), The Bobbie Gentry Show and numerous shows in Stanley Dorfman’s In Concert series, featuring artists such as James Taylor, Joni Mitchell and Randy Newman. (taken from the composers web-site).






A Personal appreciation by John Williams.

The Sixties still seem to have that magic and effective pulling power on what we say, hear and watch. Coming out of the more austere fifties, time the Beatles and the Mersey sound kicked in around 1963, British Movies and Music slowly dragged themselves into the new decade with renewed vigour and optimism. Books 10 years earlier would never see the light of day were published, and movies, with subjects that wouldn’t have got past the censor on the oppressive fifties got the green light. It wasn’t all kitchen sink dramas either, a lot of so – called Swinging Sixties Movies. were light, frothy and sometimes downright daft! I don’t think they were called Swinging Sixties then, or were they? Film music moved forward too, shall we say, from the respectable Symphonic sounds, to reflect the notable changes happening in the music world. Many leading Composers of the period came from Pop, some were instrumentalists in their own right and some in fact had no musical backgrounds at all. They were just in the right place at the right time. Composers like Basil Kirchin, Stanley Myers, John Scott , Johnny Harris, Barry Gray and they brought a welcome input of fresh ideas and thoughts

One of the most talented, and innovative composers to burst on the scene during those exciting times was John Cameron. Now a much-respected orchestrator of leading West End Musicals, most notably LES MISERABLES for which he has won many awards, after working on the Original French Concept album in the 1980s. No one who has heard the Symphonic recordings of the score will fail to realise how a first-class orchestrator. / arranger at the top of his game can make a superb difference to the whole sound of a show



I had always thought that John’s first score was KES – Indeed many records show it as thus, but John put me right. “The first film score I handled was POOR COW, also directed by Ken Loach. Donovan had been hired to write the score, and we were in the studio recording “Be Not Too Hard” a setting of Christopher Logue poem, for the soundtrack, when Teddy Joseph the line producer said to Don “Who’s actually going to score the music for the picture?” Pointing to me Don said, “He is”. “Can you have it ready for the dub next Wednesday?” (8 Days’ time) “Yes” (the foolhardiness of youth!) Quick phone call to Elisabeth Lutyens, doyenne of the Hammer Horror genre, who I had met, a ten-minute run-down of how to do it, spotted the movie Thursday, timings Friday, played Rugby Saturday, wrote it Sunday, copied it Monday, recorded Tuesday, straight to mono, ready for the dub on Wednesday. After that Ken asked me to write the score for KES. I don’t remember having any budget restrictions. The way it had been shot meant the score needed to have a small, personal, chamber quality to it, using a combination of woodwind sounds and terse string movements. It was recorded at Olympic Studios with all my favourite musicians, Harold McNair, Danny Thompson, Ron Ross, Tony Car et, and Vic Smith as sound engineer, once again mono, straight to optical. It was only because we’d had a 1/4″ safety tape running that we were able to produce a CD all those years later.”

Who then could ever forget the wam- bam title song from EVERY HOME SHOULD HAVE ONE belted out by Millicent Martin, in some way overshadowing what was going to follow, How about “Jack’s Theme” from the Peter O’Toole movie THE RULING CLASS – Heavenly choir, jazzy piano and infectious percussion – Irresistible!! The unusual almost quirky Main title for NASTY HABITS, a re-encampment of the Watergate Saga to a Convent!!




I asked John how from his first assignment did the next one follow, word of mouth? ” I had an agent, David Wilkinson who still looks after me, although he’s semi- retired now, but most of the movies then did seem to come one after the other. There was a lot of production in the UK, especially of mid-budget movies”

A cult movie in more ways than one is PSYCHOMANIA, a movie I have yet to see. As John put it “So what’s wrong with Zombie Biker movies? Every CV should have one! It was one of those movies you do to buy shoes for the children. But now it seems to have turned into a cult movie! The main thing about the score was how we got all kinds of weird electronic stuff pre- synthesisers by putting vibes through phase pedals, playing inside the piano etc…..”

Around this time there was a Movie with the sadly departed Keith Michell and Angharad Rees entitled MOMENTS. BBC showed the Movie, I think during a season of lost movies towards the end of seventies. This was when the BBC really cared about the films they showed, not like now when the have virtually given up and handed to the Specialist channels. I admit I can’t recall the score, but at the time, both film and music made a deep impact on me, but to my knowledge, it has never been re-shown on TV or available on any form of video or DVD. I asked John if he recalled much about it. ” Not too much, as you say it seems to have fallen off the radar” It may be that this is truly a lost film , somewhere in a Wardour Street vault, but when so many inferior Movies are dusted off and now re mastered to Blu Ray, I would be interested if anyone out there has any more information that they could pass on.


John also worked in Television during this time, SPECTRE, 1990, and dare I say, infamous THE PROTECTORS with Nyreen Dawn Porter and Robert Vaughan. A true time capsule of Seventies style, clothes, and indeed Music. As John recalled, “I scored as much as I had budget for, with John Richards at CTS, we worked very fast, and I think we actually scored most of the episodes. Very early 70s – heavy on the Electric Harpsichord! And loads of good musos involved – mainly my jazz funk team plus Pat Halling’s string section”


Also, around this time, the BBC was heavily involved in high quality versions of Classic Novels, or the Sunday afternoon serial which had been going for a long time. Many good composers worked on these, Carl Davis, Patrick Gowers, Paul Reade, Dudley Simpson, Wilfred Josephs, and that is just a few of the fine talented composers involved. John scored SHE FELL AMONGST THIEVES based on the Dornford Yates early 20th Century novel. It was shown as part of BBC 2 Play of The Week, and one of an unofficial trilogy of similar filmed novels, all directed by Clive Donner (The remaining two were ROGUE MALE and THE THREE HOSTAGES, both scored by Christopher Gunning). I think ROGUE MALE has had a limited DVD release, but the remaining two, sadly not. Good atmospheric film, aided right from the beginning credits by John’s fine score. “Clive was very good to work with and I enjoyed scoring this one – excellent performance by Eileen Atkins as I recall”




In 1973 he scored A TOUCH OF CLASS when he was nominated for a well – deserved Oscar. This was just one film he scored for George Barrie – Head of Brut. I WILL, I WILL FOR NOW, LOST AND FOUND and NIGHT WATCH with Elizabeth Taylor. I found a very rare Single on eBay last year called THE NIGHT HAS MANY EYES by Lee Vanderbilt, coupled with a version(?) by the John Cameron Orchestra from the latter film. It was an amazing price though I think the price does vary considerably. It does appear on you tube though. Here again, always curious about such things I asked John about this as well. “I had forgotten about that recording! George Barrie, head of Brut (the after- shave people) like to write a song or two with Sammy Cahn (good bloke, very funny) for his movies. It’s listed on Discogs, so it must have had some kind of release”

A terrific song that John had more to do with was AND I WILL LOVE YOU from SCALAWAG. In the film it was sung by the fetching Lesley Anne –Down, and suitably covered by Frankie Valli. Lovely song, and I wondered as Kirk Douglas was part director / writer etc, if he had input to the song? “Yes, Kirk was very hand – on as a director. Lionel Bart and I had been struggling with the title song (it was during one of Lionel’s more insure periods, we’d work on the song one day, and he would want to scrap it the next). One morning there was a knock on my apartment door in London. I opened it and there was Kirk’s steel blue eyes cutting a hole right through me: “I thought you guys were professional!” I was terrified! But we finished the song, and everything went well after that. One great thing that came from it was that when working in the cut in LA , the editor needed helping sync-ing the song into the action and called on his friend, the music editor Ken Johnson. Ken and I went on to work on a whole raft of movies after that and stayed firm friends until he died. We’re still in touch with his son Dan, who handled the music editing on the two mini- series I scored in LA in the 2000s, LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE and PATH TO 9 – 11 for which I got an Emmy nomination”

I came back to Lionel Bart for as composer, I have always had undying admiration for his talent, when you think of the songs he accomplished, classics that will live forever, and someone who could not read music as such, it is just amazing. ” I was always fond of Lionel. He could be difficult to work with, but it was always worthwhile. A lovely geezer!”

John also scored THE MIRROR CRACK ‘D with Elizabeth Taylor and Rock Hudson. Highlight was the Mini Film within a Film that the Village inhabitants were watching in the Village Hall. Filmed in Black and White, MURDER AT MIDNIGHT with stars of the fifties, Dinah Sheridan, Nigel Stock, Anthony Steel, and scored in a very 50s British noirish way, a great way to start the film proper. Good score, and many years ago, 23 years ago to be precise, I interviewed Guy Hamilton for Music from The Movies. and he had this to say,” It seems to me that music for an Agatha Christie movie is always tricky by the fact that every three minutes a clue is dropped, a revelation thuds out and the temptation is to underline. In THE MIRROR CRACK’D we opened the film with a satire of all ‘ B’ movie picture ‘whodunits’ and John Cameron pastiched splendidly. After that we settled down and I think he did an excellent job in avoiding the pitfalls”. * As a reviewer says on IMDB, “The music is stunning too.” I wondered if there was ever any thought of a commercial recording. “Don’t recall plans for a soundtrack album. Wasn’t the norm then”



THE MIRROR CRACK’D has just come out in Blu Ray in the UK, New interviews with Dame Angela Lansbury, writer Barry Sandler, Producer Richard Goodwin. Why no interview with John? It would make people not familiar with is music, listen out for it more, and for us with a specific interest, even more keen to pick up the Blu Ray. It is not just this film though; Blu Ray firms seems very loath to make the music part of the film watching experience.



It seems that John records the music here and USA. ” Some here, some there: I scored MARLOWE PRIVATE EYE (with Powers Booth) here, all to picture. I hate tracking and I figured one reason the US TV shows sold well was that they were all scored to picture – the Musicians Union in LA wouldn’t allow tracking. We had a hand – picked bunch of jazz musicians and most of the cues were done in one take. I also scored JACK THE RIPPER and JEKYLL AND HYDE (both Michael Caine) here, and the Patrick Bergin FRANKENSTEIN, all with David Wickes directing.”

I have always noticed that on John’s albums etc, there is no additional orchestrator credit. ” I always do my own orchestrations, even on TO END ALL WARS, when I had 10 days to write the score for the LSO to get it ready for Cannes. Always conducted.”

Which brings us to the tricky question if you have ever replaced another composer. “There have been times, not of my own volition when I have found out that I have replaced another composer. As they were people I have / had respect for, I’d rather not list them. Don’t recall being replaced…”


With all these wonderful scores, it’s a shame not many are out there in the market place ” It would be good to see more out there, and I was happy when Jonny Trunk got KES out there. Usually it flounders on the cost of clearing musicians fees.”

And with all these wonderful scores, is there one you are particularly fond of? “I wrote a Cantata “Missa Celtica” for the English Chamber Orchestra and the Choir of New College Oxford some years back. It used the Mass as a framework for Celtic poems and songs charted the journeys of 6/7th Century Celtic Saints through Europe. It was on Errato and well received but sadly had bad luck in public performances. Film score wise, one of my favourites outside KES, A TOUCH OF CLASS etc was TO END ALL WARS. It was enormous buzz working with the LSO, and with Maire Brenna writing Celtic songs”.


I should also mention that John has been very active in the World of Production music or as it used to be called Library Music. I personally feel that a lot of the music for these various specialist labels far exceeds the quality of writing for the media as we know it. Certainly, the World of Music for Television in the UK at least has deteriorated. I am working on long term project on Production Music which will of course, include many of John’s outstanding contributions to many libraries. In the meantime, I asked him a little about it. ” In the early days, one tended to go to Robin Philips with an idea, often allied to a film or recording project I had worked with. If he liked it, whoosh, you were in the Studio. Now Production Music set-ups tend to plan more, research the market. The old way was more fun, but the new is probably more cost effective.”




Lastly, I can’t leave this brief overview of John ‘s career, without mentioning RUN THE LENGTH OF YOUR WILDNESS by Kathe Green. There is a filmic link here for Kathe’s father was the legendary head of MGM Music Department John Green. This is always the album I would mention, if I wanted to highlight what a gifted arranger can do with songs, however good or mediocre. I should say none fall into the latter category here, but obviously some songs are stronger than others. The title song, may echo Jimmy Webb’s MACARTHUR PARK, but that is no handicap. John also wrote the evocative, IF I EVER THOUGH YOU’D CHANGE YOUR MIND, a hit for Cilla Black, and later covered by Agnetha Faltskog. of Abba fame. Bernard Herrmann once said that” Orchestration is the colour of the music”, and John brings many orchestral colours to this wonderful album which even after how long? – don’t answer that! – I can still listen to with that first initial excitement. Don’t forget John also worked with David Essex on the Musical, MUTINY, Scored SILVER DREAM RACER and arranged many albums, including CENTRE STAGE for K-Tel, full of excellently arranged Show songs.




To me, a true genius in the film music world, is someone who does all the composing, conducting, orchestrating himself. Gets it done on time. It aids the film, sounds good in and out of the movie theatre, Music you remember long after you have caught the last bus home. Music you remember days or weeks after and pause and say to yourself. “You know, that music was pretty good wasn’t it?”



And that my friends is John Cameron. A true genius in writing for film and TV.


*quote from Music from The Movies (C) 1995




                                    A personal appreciation by John Williams.

(Many thanks to John for sharing his thoughts with us, MMI)




This Autumn, October 8 to be precise, a very special Musical event will be held in London. The Capital has never been short of special occasions, many great musical premieres have been presented to an eager public within the short space that qualifies as West End and surrounding Concert Halls. The Proms themselves have been responsible for many fine new renderings, but none quite this one to be held in the very special ambience of London Coliseum. Well over twenty years after it was first written. THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA will be premiered with music by Roy Budd.


This was Roy’s last work, one that was close to his heart, and indeed one he spent a great deal of time on, prior to his tragic and untimely death in 1993. It was indeed due to be performed at the Barbican only five weeks after he passed away. Now thanks to the efforts of Mishka Productions, those notes written on score sheets all those years ago will finally burst to life with full Symphony Orchestra bringing Roy’s music to life, and how apt, not in the overly big and impersonal RAH, but in The London Coliseum, not a million miles away from the original setting on Paris Opera House.





For those more used to the somewhat modern, and jazzy tones of GET CARTER, and the wild jazz cum big band sounds of Michael Winner’s THE STONE KILLER (now for readers in the U.K. available on Blu Ray with Roy’s score isolated – free from all the dialogue – I know you miss a lot of nuances sans dialogue, but isn’t this the most brilliant way to listen to film scores? ) anyway, I digress, PHANTOM is a large Symphonic work, not quite heard before in Roy’s outstanding oeuvre, but listening to it, there are indeed, signs of the great man, the way he used the horns, and the way he combines themes, without reverting to Hollywood 30s style of music for every individual. Sure, the themes are there, but the way they are orchestrated, the seams just blend into each other with apparent ease. One can see how Roy was proud of this work, and we are indeed that he did record it for us to hear at home.



Obviously considering the Films location, it opens with solo organ, which segues into the Main Credits, now we here the PHANTOM theme in all its glory, and I wonder if I am not the only one, to think this is miles away from traditional music for, I suppose it could be called a horror story. It is without doubt, a love story with very tragic overtones. and I think Roy felt that the music for the Phantom should be imbued with humanity. It is indeed a theme that stays with you. Following the Main Credits, we see the Paris Opera House in a distant shot, Roy’s produces another them, a fanfare no less, worthy of Rozsa. Again, the orchestration is clear and transparent, (Did Hugo Friedhofer once say he like to hear the music breathe?) As the Curtain parts, a ballet troupe dance their number before the main event, Here Roy lightens the score for a delightful almost playful cue as the film progresses.


This is not a cue by cue description, just to show what a master work it is, yet, sorry, I must mention around 50 minutes into the film a love scene between Raoul and Christine by the Seine, a lovely exquisite theme that is sensitively done, in fact, my wife, hearing this remarked how lovely it was. Sadly, it doesn’t last long, for the phantom is viewing them from one of the bridges and not to put to finer point on it, is not pleased. What Roy does is always informs us via his masterly score that was well as being a tragedy, it is a love story and he walks the fine line of never over balancing, so we as the cinema audience are kept informed without being telegraphed what is going to happen, the bane of many a poor score.

Roy Conducting


I said at the beginning this was a personal appreciation of Roy. Much has been written on his music, by me as well over the years, and it makes no sense to go over his great scores. We all have our favourites, and I am sure yours’s will be different to mind. I rate PAPER TIGER very highly indeed, but maybe that’s because I have a weakness for scores with an Oriental flavour. Here Roy masterly merges full Orchestra – National Philharmonic no less- with instrumentalists to convey the locale. If it brings to mind Jerry Goldsmith, that is no handicap. It might remind one of Goldsmith, but it is Roy Budd 100%.

Good song as well sung by the Ray Conniff Singers. Whilst THE WILD GEESE has got it’s admirers, me as well I hasten to say, I have a fondness for WILD GEESE 2. Not so symphonic, more if this is the right word, off the wall, and certainly a terrific listening experience away from the film. Lastly many would have come out of the Cinema after watching WHO DARES WINS, with Roy’s pulsating theme in their head. Here his music moves the film where dialogue or sound effects would not have worked. Brilliant!!

I think I first spoke to Roy when I was organising a Seminar for the Goldsmith Society. One composer, Stanley Myers had to drop out virtually on the day to go to the States, in desperation I rung Roy, and he at a moment’s notice turned up – NFT I think, but it’s a long time ago – and was, with due deference to the other composers’ present, the hit of the afternoon, informative, witty, always courteous. I was deeply impressed I spoke to him quite a few times over the phone -once I think for a special on Michael Winner – and he was always friendly and never rushed me off. I find that that many of the true talents, with their feet on the ground, you could speak to straight away, without going through secretaries or PR’S. Stanley Myers and Michael Kamen also come to mind.


The last time I saw him was at a Film Music magazine function in London. Again, he was enormously friendly, and what I liked, would always put you at ease. I can’t say for sure, but I think it was only a few weeks before he passed away

I like to think he was a friend, I liked him tremendously and whilst over the years I met many composers, and some I still know now, Roy was special, and I still miss him. Just to ring him up and ask something, there always, seemed to be a smile in his voice, and that is truly something special

His music is always with us, CDS, Blu Ray’s and frequently on Television. But PHANTOM is different. This isn’t going to come up very often, so I urge anyone with an interest in the genius of Roy Budd and who can be in London this October, to book your ticket now. No, I am not on the pay of the Coliseum, I just want the Hall to be full of enthusiasts who appreciate what Roy did with his last work, and so you can say later, I was there!!!




Wilfred Joseph's
Wilfred Joseph’s

This month is obviously the month for Remembrance, so I frequently think of a number of Films and Music scores that have special significance at the this time of year. THE WORLD AT WAR of course, a milestone in Television Documentaries, with a fine score by Carl Davis, but going back to the First World War, there is only one series of note , and that is the BBC ‘S THE GREAT WAR, made way back in 1964 when a great many of the combatants where still with us.


Although not blessed with a great deal of original music, the Mid Sixties documentaries didn’t use a great deal of especially written music, much came from Library music or the Classical Repertoire. so whatever Music Wilfred Josephs wrote was supplemented with Vaughan Williams etc. It was after all a 26 part series .That said his Main theme, dark and like the visuals descending to the dark void of hell that was the Western Front, was a fine piece of music in it’s own right . Indeed it catapulted him to a lifetime of writing music for Films and Television.

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Much later in the 70s, he formed it into a GREAT WAR SUITE, built up around three main themes. First is “The Start of the War” a almost jaunty piece showing the British Tommies marching off to War, full optimism, that the War would be over by Christmas. Lovely piece this, very characteristic of Joseph’s work, with almost North Country feel, Here as in most of his works, he was master of making a smaller orchestra sounding a lot bigger than it really was. We then descend into the Middle section. “The Great War” basically the music for the Main Credits , but here stretched out , but almost heart wrenching in it’s showing War’s total lack of humanity . Slowly, , very slowly we move into “The End of the War”, a joyous celebration ,a release for the Four Years of Hell. Here Joseph’s music incorporates Arne’s “O God our help in Ages Past” which I suspect was sung in every Church in the Land on the first Sunday when the War was over. Here using his own theme as Counterpoint with the Hymn is master stroke and never fails to make me realise how much of a genius he was.

This was the high spot of album released by Polydor in 1974 (Circle of Sound 2383 294) which also contained themes from CIDER WITH ROSIE, SUSPICION , BEN – GURION, WEAVERS GREEN and 24 HOURS TO KILL, all conducted by Marcus Dods. This, has never been available in a CD format.

Last year was the 100th Anniversary of the beginning of the First World War, and I thought , probably too late , that this suite would be perfect to played at the Proms. I wrote early on to the two leading Classical Music Magazines saying it would be ideal , and it would really kick up a storm to played at the this time. Of course, my letters weren’t published. Perhaps I was naive to think they stood a chance anyway.

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There seems to be a blind spot with certain composers either on the airwaves or in magazines or Compact Discs. Certainly Josephs comes into the this category. To a lesser degree Sir Richard Rodney Bennett. Considering his output, there is a real lack of recordings available. Chandos bravely started a series some years ago A CD came out which contains some premieres and was received well. It was even promoted a s Volume One . We are still waiting for Volume Two

The neglect that has befallen Wilfred Josephs is even more scandalous. None of his Symphonies or larger works are commercially available. yet everything that Sir James MacMillan writes is out there, ditto Sir Harrison Birtwistle. These are the composers that the Prom’s laud as the great British Composers and no doubt well liked by the Promenaders, but to be honest, how music of their music is really listened too outside the Royal Albert Hall.

Is it that old problem, of working in the media that comes back to haunt? Josephs did stirling work, especially on Television. I recently caught PRIDE AND PREJUDICE, the 1980;s version and his score was delightful. Not as in your face as Carl Davis’ score for the most famous and recent adaption, but quite delightfully small scale. Again, working with smaller forces, no doubt for budgetary reasons his music is delight from beginning to end.

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Some of the top shows from the Seventies had Joseph’s music : I CLAUDUIS, ENEMY AT THE DOOR, THE BRONTES OF HAWORTH, POLLYANNA , THE GHOSTS OF MOTLEY HALL and not forgetting the most famous , and controversial THE PRISONER. He even worked on HAMMER HOUSE OF HORROR, an episode with the delightful title of CARPATHIAN EAGLE starring Suzanne Danielle..

A true original, and it should be said a very nice man, and whilst it doesn’t always go with the territory, I always enjoyed the brief chats we had when I was working on a TV Composer Book. He was down – to – earth and approachable, like his music and I like to think appreciated the interest in his music.

So next time you come across his music , in a film, a TV series, or maybe though I doubt it, on the Radio, stop and listen to a true original , a British Composer of distinction.

P.S. Pass it on!!




To say that Howard Blake has been taking things easy in the last few years, would be a total travesty. He seems busy as ever, with Concertos, Piano Music and various projects which seem to take him all over the Globe, but specifically I would suggest Europe and Far East. His latest CD has him teamed up with cellist Benedict Kloeckner called DIVERSIONS. Up and coming is a ballet he is currently working on, but certainly his work in the media has been noticeably absent in the last few years. That is till now

THE LAND OF COUNTERPANE is a song cycle based on Poems by Robert Louis Stevenson (1850 – 1894). For me who grew up in the Fifties minus can you believe Television, his adventures were the stuff of young boy’s fantasies, KIDNAPPED, TREASURE ISLAND and a personal favourite THE BLACK ARROW. But for some reason his collection of poems A CHILD’S GARDEN OF VERSES missed me completely by. The Counterpane in case you were wondering is a patchwork quilt into which each square contained a different story, and the young Robert breathed life into these patchwork squares by in later years writing a collection of poems

All this is fertile ground for a composer of Howard Blake’s imagination, for what he has done over a very long period of time is to write music to selected verses and whilst the classic THE SNOWMAN had only one song – and what a song- this has songs spread through the entire 26 minute film – This I feel very canny for if sold to a commercial network, time to fit in the dreaded adverts.

HB Piano Angle

Having since the film only the once, I feel this is very much a review in progress, for as I write this I would really like to see it again, for like a lot of films, sometime you cannot appreciate all that is going on it a single viewing and I personally feel that with repeated showings ,it could come a very worthy successor to THE SNOWMAN , which sadly THE BEAR did not become, though I must admit, to be quite fond of that as well.

The animation is very cleverly accomplished for as we see the young Robert in his sick bed it is very much black and white, whereas once we are enveloped into his fantasies, the screen becomes a blaze of colour. Anyone who warmed to THE SNOWMAN will certainly like this,

The Choir is from the Pupils of Mary Erskine School in Edinburgh, recorded now and in 2007 at the Usher Hall in Edinburgh. Not a professional choir at all, they still bring a freshness and youthful vigour to the singing which is most commendable and enjoyable. I defy anyone not to enjoy the choral work on offer here

To be reading this you must have an interest in film music and those that appreciated Howard’s earlier scores like RIDDLE OF THE SANDS and THE DUELLISTS will find the same degree of understanding of what music in film and animation can inspire to. The narrator as Robert Louis Stevenson is David Rintoul and the music is played by the Scottish Chamber Orchestra conducted by Howard Blake. The Epilogue spoken by Rintoul is a very emotional moment ,looking back into his life to find the boy that he was , no longer there. and for me, and I suspect for many, a highlight of the film.

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I sincerely hope that this in time will prove a worthwhile successor to THE SNOWMAN but in it’s own right. I should also mention that the illustrations by Mark Reeve and Animation by Emmett Elvin are first rate, and one can see, that this has been a labour of love for all concerned.

Whilst there seems to be no film assignment on the horizon , we can be grateful for the outstanding scores he has produced for film ‘s of such varying quality. Some classics as the aforementioned THE DUELLISTS and RIDDLE OF THE SANDS, and some like S.O.S. TITANIC which I would have loved to hear in the full longer film, certainly the one currently available is lamentably short. Then of course there are THE AVENGERS , scores for the some of the latter Linda Thorson epsodioes which show show imagination and even those early days, class

I often think that whilst there is no comparison as such background wise, he has a marked affinity with Andre Previn, both stated out working on films and pianist , arranger before going on to provide scores , highly regarded by their peers, and aficionados alike. Both felt, I suspect that the they both felt that need to write music that didn’t have someone talking over.

Both have accomplished that to a very high level for both composers can appeal emotionally to listener, for what else is music if you cannot get emotionally involved I still hope one day Howard will find a feature film that will utilise his undeniable talents for he has a keen dramatic instinct .Till then THE LAND OF COUNTERPANE will do quite nicely. Yes indeed.

John Williams