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.
Born John Douglas Louis Veale in Bromley Kent on June 15th,1922, composer John Veale, is again one of the driving and original forces within British concert hall and film music that is at times sadly overlooked. Veale attended the Dragon School in Oxford from 1930 through to 1936, and then later went to Repton school which was in Derbyshire from 1936 up until 1940. After this Veale attended The Corpus Christi College in Oxford until 1942 where he studied History. Even when he was a young child Veale took a keen interest in music, which was something of a surprise as none of his family as in his parents or siblings were musically inclined, although his Father did like to listen to Gilbert and Sullivan. Veale found himself particularly attracted to the sound of the wind instruments and whilst attending the Dragon School and at the age of twelve was given a clarinet for his Birthday. He taught himself to play the instrument and when he moved onto Repton School took lessons and began to experiment in composing. He then began to play in the school orchestra and was a member of a jazz band and tried to emulate his hero at the time Benny Goodman. It was the arrival of his new music teacher in 1939, John Gardener who opened the young composers mind to other composers and widened his appreciation of the classical music world, in the form of Sibelius and Shostakovich that really fired up Veale’s interest in composition. It was Gardener who also introduced Veale to the work of William Walton via a performance of Walton’s first symphony. Veale also became interested in the music of Bartok, Bax, Ravel, Vaughn Williams, Rawsthorne and Barber. All of which made a lasting impression upon him and shaped the way in which he fashioned his own music in the following years. During the second world war, Veale spent his war service in the Education Corps, and during this time he continued to study music unofficially with Egon Wellesz and had lessons from Sir Thomas Armstrong in harmony and counterpoint. It was during this period that the composer had his first works performed and completed his first symphony.
After the composer was demobbed, he returned to Oxford where he continued his studies with Wellesz and further studied music. He began to write incidental music for the theatre, and it was a piece of music from one such production LOVES LABOURS LOST (1947) that began Veale’s involvement in writing for films, the composer sent a copy of his score for the production to Muir Mathieson, who after seeing it asked Veale to write music for The Crown Film Unit, it was via this assignment that Veale met conductor John Hollingsworth, who was assistant to Sir Malcolm Sargent. Veale then became friends and moved in musical circles with many of the most respected composers of that period, Elizabeth Lutyens, William Walton, Humphrey Searle, Constant Lambert, Alan Rawsthorne plus poets and writers such as Dylan Thomas, Philip Larkin and Kingsley Amis.
It was around 1954 that Veale returned to writing music for film, John Hollingsworth attended a performance of the composer’s clarinet concerto and had heard that Muir Mathieson was looking for a composer to write the score for THE PURPLE PLAIN which was a movie that starred American actor Gregory Peck. After hearing Veale’s clarinet concerto Hollingsworth spoke with Mathieson, who agreed that Veale would be right for the film. The score was a great success for the composer and this led to other film scoring assignments that included, WAR IN THE AIR which was a documentary for television and the feature films, PORTRAIT OF ALISON-aka POSTMARK FOR DANGER (1955) and THE SPANISH GARDENER (1956) which starred the then British heart throb Dirk Bogarde. Veale’s score for this was grandiose and dramatic and had to it a hint of the style employed by Miklos Rosza in his early British movies.
After this the composer worked on several B movies, CLASH BY NIGHT, THE HOUSE IN MARSH ROAD, HIGH TIDE AT NOON and NO ROAD BACK which was an early movie for Sean Connery and featured Alfie Bass.
As the 1960, s began Veale and composers like him who wrote romantic and richly thematic music seemed to fall out of favour, the music fans at that time opting for the pop music revolution or the more Avant Garde and modern sounding music. The decades of the 60, s and the 70, s were not kind to the composer. But interest in his music soon returned during the 1980, s and the 1990, s. With Chandos records recording a few his works. John Veale may not have written the scores to that many movies, but the few he did write were impressive and filled with rich thematic material. He battled prostate cancer for many years but finally had to leave Oxford and return to Bromley where he resided in a care home, he passed away on November 16th, 2006.
Malcolm Williamson was born in Australia on November 21st 1931, his Father was a Minister and his Mother acted for a living. The composer took an interest in films from an early age and also began to focus upon music during his pre-teen years, studying French horn, Piano and Violin at the Sydney Conservatory. The composer later studied composition with sir Eugene Gossans. Whilst a teenager and growing up in Australia Williamson worked on a handful of documentaries, scoring them with music that was largely atmospheric and atonal as opposed to being melodic with developed thematic properties. In 1950 Williamson traveled to London where he continued to study music under the tutelage of Elizabeth Lutyens and Erwin Stein. In 1952 the composer settled in England and was already at this time in his early twenties considered by many to be a performer of note,with the assistance of Benjamin Britten and also Sir Adrian Boult Williamson had his first works published. Williamson has probably contributed to almost all genres of music contributing many works for concert hall performance as well as writing operas and ballets. He was introduced to Hammer films musical director John Hollingsworth in 1960 and it was Hollingsworth who suggested that Williamson should write the score to the studios production THE BRIDES OF DRACULA, this was the second movie in Hammers Dracula cycle but was not as successful as it predecessor which starred Christopher Lee as the infamous blood sucking Count. The role of Dracula this time being played by actor David Peel. In many ways Peel suited the role better he had a persona of refinement and sophistication about him that was tinged with virulence which for me personally seemed to be closer to the Bram Stoker character.
The score was a success for Williamson and is now looked upon as one of Hammers finest soundtracks, it contained organ music which the composer had studied but he did not perform on this particular score. After working on BRIDES OF DRACULA the composer worked on numerous documentaries and concentrated more on writing symphonic works such as ballets and operas. Hammer contacted the composer on numerous occasions to work on feature films that they had produced but he was too busy to break away from his writing for the concert hall. It was not until 1969 when Hammers new musical director Phil Martell contacted him offering him CRESCENDO that Williamson agreed to take the assignment. “ I was actually in that movie as well” recalled the composer “I was asked to play the piano in certain scenes so that they could film my hands, this was for authenticity apparently, I even wore James Olsen’s ring on my little finger, I remember my hands were far more hairy than the actors so I had to be shaved before the filming could begin, but I was paid rather handsomely for this”. The assignment went well for Williamson and the score for CRESCENDO is probably one of the studios most melodic and romantic sounding. His next foray into horror territory came with THE HORROR OF FRANKENSTEIN.
In interview the composer recalled that this was not such a pleasing experience for him. “ I had specific ideas about the sound that I wanted to create for the film, I planned to use clarinets which would start with piccolo clarinet to double bass clarinet there would be eight in total which would be supported or underlined by strings and percussion, but things did not go entirely to plan and I was asked to add flutes and also oboe which I did reluctantly, this resulted in the sound becoming more of a conventional woodwind sound which for me completely defeated the object and diluted the sound that I was attempting to create. I also used the tuba to accompany the monster in the film, which was a mistake on my part it did not really work that well and made the character seem clumsy and awkward, or so I thought at the time, but seeing it in later years maybe it was not that awful, maybe I just did not understand what the studio was trying to achieve, but I was not the only one, Ralph Bates who I knew personally was the leading actor in the movie and he too was not pleased with the film was going. It was an attempt to combine Hammer horror with comedy or satire, which just did not work”.
In 1973 Williamson composed the score for NOTHING BUT THE NIGHT which was a Charlemange production, the company had been set up by actor Christopher Lee and Anthony Keys and NOTHING BUT THE NIGHT was their first release. In 1975 Williamson was appointed THE MASTER OF THE QUEENS MUSIC and was the first non-Briton to take up the position writing music for Royal Occasions etc.in 1976 he was awarded the CBE. In 1984 Williamson scored his fifth and final film score which was for THE MASKS OF DEATH the soundtrack included a lavish sounding waltz and a wonderful British sounding military march. Malcolm Williamson passed away in Cambridge on March 2nd 2003.
When GDI records first came on the scene, one has to remember that music from the Hammer horrors had not been that readily available, yes ok admittedly there had been a few compilations that had mainly been re-recordings and some of these were released as stories of Dracula etc with music tracked behind the narration, but I think you will agree with me that it was Silva Screen records in the UK that was the first label to make a concerted effort to release music from the Hammer Gothic Horrors, at first they concentrated upon James Bernard, simply because he was the composer that so many associated with the house of horror, because of his memorable and foreboding DRACULA soundtracks. But Silva also turned its attention to other composers that had written music for Hammer, but of course these were all re-recordings as the label were told that the original tapes were either lost or destroyed. Then up popped Gary Wilson and the GDI label, who had the original tapes to many of the Hammer soundtracks. The logical thing for GDI to do was release a compilation, a sort of best of Hammer if you will. THE HAMMER FILM MUSIC COLLECTION was the first compact disc of many in a series dedicated to the rich musical legacy of Hammer. This first volume which includes 25 themes is a real stunner of a collection, the disc opens with the taught and virulent theme from THE DEVIL RIDES OUT as composed by James Bernard and is a perfect opener for what is to follow, a compilation that thrills, excites and also oozes evil musical renditions which evoke numerous memories of those brilliant yet at times clumsy looking horrors. James Bernard is given the lions share of the disc’s running time, which I suppose is a fitting tribute to the man who was let us remember the studios composer in residence (or might as well have been) he scored movies for them from the mid 1950’s through to 1974 and was also involved on the TV series that the studio produced for ITV. The compilation boast 10 pieces by Bernard, including DRACULA and the aforementioned theme for THE DEVIL RIDES OUT, which is still as threatening in its persona and atmosphere as it was when I first heard it back in 1968. Also included from Bernard we have THE CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN, FRANKENSTEIN MUST BE DESTROYED, THE SCARS OF DRACULA, TASTE THE BLOOD OF DRACULA, THE LEGEND OF THE SEVEN GOLDEN VAMPIRES plus the haunting and mesmerising theme from SHE and the eerie sounding music from THE GORGON and for me what I consider the best of Bernard THE KISS OF THE VAMPIRE, which has a powerful and magnificent piano solo from Douglas Gamley.
So this compilation is worth owning just for the James Bernard material alone, but wait, there is more as they say! Scottish born composer Harry Robinson or Robertson is well represented with four themes VAMPIRE LOVERS, LUST FOR A VAMPIRE, and the glorious TWINS OF EVIL, which are all from movies that feature the infamous Karnstein family of blood suckers. Plus there is also a brief piece from COUNTESS DRACULA which starred Ingrid Pitt who murdered maidens and bathed in their blood to regain her youthful looks. Robinson provided all four of the films with highly atmospheric scores, but it was TWINS OF EVIL that had been on many a collectors wants list to get some sort of release, its brooding opening building into a full blown riding theme that if tracked onto a western would fit like the proverbial glove, a style that composer Robinson turned to again on his HAWK THE SLAYER soundtrack a few years later. VAMPIRE LOVERS had been available before as a re-recording on an EMI long playing record alongside three other themes from Hammer horrors, but it appeared in the form of a suite which was arranged by Hammer’s musical director Phil Martell, what is included here is the films opening theme, a short but effective musical exercise in romantic music tinged with evil seduction. LUST FOR AVAMPIRE is a very lush and opulent sounding theme, full of romantic atmosphere and in my humble opinion was far too good for the film it enhanced. COUNTESS DRACULA was probably the most authentic sounding score that Robinson composed for a Hammer horror, he utilised cimbalom to great effect and further enhanced the film with lavish sounding strings that created an air of mystery.
The film itself was not a great success at the box office, and that is probably why Robinsons score is at times overlooked. Another theme that is most certainly deserved of a mention is THE MUMMY, which was released in 1959 and starred Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing, the thunderous, dramatic and vibrant score was the work of German born concert pianist, turned composer Franz Reisenstein. The collection as a whole is magnificent and will delight any fan of Hammer films and the gothic horrors that they produced. This excellent compilation takes us on a musical journey of terror and spans from the 1950’s through to the early 1970’s. Other titles that are also included are, THE BRIDES OF DRACULA, HANDS OF THE RIPPER, BLOOD FROM THE MUMMYS TOMB, MOON ZERO TWO, QUATERMASS AND THE PIT, CAPTAIN KRONOS VAMPIRE HUNTER, WHEN DINOSAURS RULED THE EARTH, THE CURSE OF THE MUMMYS TOMB, CREATURES THE WORLD FORGOT and DR JEKYLL AND SISTER HYDE. The music is conducted by Marcus Dodd’s, John Hollingsworth, Phil Martell and Franco Ferrara and all taken from the original sound recordings, there are no re-recordings here.
The compilation concludes as it started with the music of James Bernard, and from TASTE THE BLOOD OF DRACULA, we hear the beautiful and typically English sounding pastoral love theme from the score. This is a classic release a must have collection an essential purchase. Packaged wonderfully and the 16 page booklet is crammed with information courtesy of Marcus Hearne and an introduction from Hammer films chairman Roy Skeggs. Colourfully illustrated with posters publicity stills and photographs of some of the composers.
FILM AND TELEVISION MUSIC FROM AROUND THE WORLD AND MOVIE REVIEWS AND NEWS.