Tag Archives: ANGELA MORLEY

THE FILM AND TELEVISION MUSIC OF ANGELA MORLEY.

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As we all know there are numerous very talented composers who write for both film and television that are either overlooked or at times forgotten. I would not say that Angela Morley falls neatly into this category because she obviously has a following even now some nine years after her death, Morley was born Wally Stott in 1924 and was responsible for working on many BBC produced radio shows during the 1950’s and was encouraged by composer Robert Farnon in her work. Stott became an almost household name because of the connections with artists such as MARLENE DIETRICH, MEL TORME, ROSEMARY CLOONEY and BENNY GOODMAN and also via recordings that She did for READERS DIGEST and Phillips records. In the 1970’s Stott underwent sex reassignment surgery and after this as Morley began to work more widely scoring movies and writing for television productions. She is probably best known for her work on movies such as, WATERSHIP DOWN, THE SLIPPER AND THE ROSE and WHEN EIGHT BELLS TOLL, as well as stunning scores for TV films and series such as MADAME X, THE LOOKING GLASS WAR, DYNASTY and HOTEL. Morley.s work for film and TV was never widely available so this is why I am pleased that JOHN WILSON and HIS ORCHESTRA have released THE FILM AND TELEVISION MUSIC OF ANGELA MORLEY on the VOCALION label. This is a wonderful collection of superbly crafted themes and musical excerpts from various Morley soundtracks. The compilation was actually recorded before the composer passed away at Abbey Road studios in 2003. So forgive me if I am late on this one. The release showcases perfectly the versatile style and the evident talent of the composer, who was able to move from genre to genre and create memorable and tuneful melodies whether they be for cinema or television or just light music compositions or even library tracks. This I think is one of the best compilations I have heard in recent years dedicated to one composer, simply because it is so varied and richly melodic for the most part. As well as the shows and film titles I have mentioned the CD also includes a handful of tracks that the composer wrote for the Chappel library and are typical sounding pieces from the genre of British light music in the 1950’s with carefree sounding woods, cheeky pizzicato and lush sounding strings, the CD also includes music from WATERSHIP DOWN and CAPTAIN NEMO AND THE UNDERSEA CITY. Morley was a talented composer and arranger and as well as working of her own assignments would also assist John Williams on scores such as STAR WARS, SUPERMAN and THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK. She also worked on various arrangements for Williams for his recordings with The Boston Pops Orchestra. I cannot recommend this compilation to you enough, it is a gem of a collection and a wonderfully entertaining and enriching listening experience. The near six minute section from CAPTAIN NEMO AND THE UNDERSEA CITY is particularly welcome as is the music that Morley penned for THE SLIPPER AND THE ROSE, performed to perfection by the excellent John Wilson Orchestra. Definitely one for your collection.

WALLY STOTT/ANGELA MORLEY.

 

 

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.

 

WATERSHIP DOWN (1978).

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The score for WATERSHIP DOWN is a classic work which was penned by Angela Morley and Malcolm Williamson with the song BRIGHT EYES being the work of Mike Batt. Conducted by Marcus Dodds this is a quintessentially English sounding score with more than a gentle nod in the direction of vintage composers such as Walton and his like. I think the attraction of the score to WATERSHIP DOWN is the simplicity of it and also the absence of electronic support, written at a time when synthesisers were beginning more than ever to be utilised within film scoring, composers Morley and Williamson decided to approach the assignment in a more traditional way making effective use of symphonic rather than synthetic. The actual credits read music by Angela Morley, Incidental music by Malcolm Williamson, whether this was a collaboration in the true sense of the word I am not sure and which composer was responsible for the lions share of the music too is a mystery but there is a richness and also a melodic lushness present within the score that at times reminds one of the works of Richard Rodney Bennett in particular his soundtracks for FAR FROM THE MADDING CROWD and LADY CAROLINE LAMB, it has to it an ambience and style that also has many affiliations with composer John Addison (A BRIDGE TOO FAR) and also resonates a haunting and lingering appeal via the many themes included within its duration. I think that Williamson and Morley must have at some point worked together on the music because the compositions certainly flow and compliment one another.

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ANGELA MORLEY.

In my humble opinion this is one of the most appealing soundtracks produced for a British movie in the last fifty years or so, it is filled with emotive and melancholy passages that have the ability to take one back to the movie when listening to the score and straight away be able to recall exactly where the music is utilised within the picture. It is beautiful and mesmerizing as well as being entertaining and of course supporting the animated images on screen, the song BRIGHT EYES is one of the highlights of the work, with the version from the movie being included on the soundtrack album which is different from the edit that entered the British charts, Batt’s music and lyrics vocalised by Art Garfunkel being supported by highly emotive and heartrending strings that are punctuated by subdued harp which also laces and ingratiates the proceedings. I am not certain about the legitimacy of this recording on PENDULUM records, by this I mean is it a fully paid up edition of the soundtrack? The tracks are the same as the original LP release which was on CBS or Sony as it is known now, so surely Sony would have seen the potential of releasing this rather than license it to a smaller label. WATERSHIP DOWN may have been an animated feature but it was an important movie and one that has fascinated and entertained audiences of all ages since its release.

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MALCOLM WILLIAMSON.

The score is not surprisingly available for download on I Tunes which makes me wonder about the PENDULUM release, but hats off to them as this is a very good recording and is also well presented. Maybe as it is approaching the films 37th Birthday Sony might decide to issue an anniversary edition of the soundtrack, this score is a delight from the offset with the PROLOGUE AND MAIN TITLE opening the disc that includes narration by Michael Hordern, this wonderful opener to the soundtrack sets the scene perfectly and continues on with a number of highlight cues including, VENTURING FORTH, INTO THE MIST, VIOLETS GONE, BRIGHT EYES AND INTERLUDE, KEHAARS THEME and FINAL STRUGGLE AND TRIUMPH. Highly recommended.

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                  ANGELA MORLEY

“All the world will be your enemy Prince of a thousand enemies, and when they catch you they will kill you. But first they must catch you, digger, listener, runner. Prince with the swift warning. Be cunning and full of tricks, and your people will never be destroyed”.

(closing lines from Prologue).

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