Tag Archives: Roy Budd

THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA and ROY BUDD.

                                    A personal appreciation by John Williams.

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

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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%.

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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!!!

 

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SOLDIER BLUE, CATLOW, ZEPPELIN.

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Composer Roy Budd was probably one of the most talented and resourceful musicians to come out of England in decades, he was not only an accomplished composer of film music and jazz but also was a more than competent pianist. His first foray into film music came in 1969 when he was hired to score SOLDIER BLUE, the soundtrack is now an iconic one as well as being an important one for the composer. The actual soundtrack for the movie has never been released, which is a great pity because there is a great deal of wonderful music contained within the film. Instead a re-recording of the score with principal themes arranged and also performed by Budd was released on the PYE Records label on vinyl in 1970, the A side featuring the music from SOLDIER BLUE and the B side containing various film themes that had been given the Budd treatment. Many years later a compact disc was issued in Japan on the SCL label, this was a straight re-issue of the PYE album.

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Then in 1999 CINEPHILE which is a label in the Castle communications stable released the music from the A side of the original album along with the music from another Roy Budd western score CATLOW, with the release also containing two cues from ZEPPELIN. It contained informative liner notes and colourful art work, but it still was not the actual SOLDIER BLUE score which many hoped it would be, although it did include a vocal version of FIELDS OF GREEN AND SKIES OF BLUE which had not been released previously. Nevertheless it was still an interesting and entertaining release, showing three varying styles of a talented composer and his ability to adapt to any situation when scoring movies, so it is this edition of the soundtrack or soundtracks that this review is based upon. Budd’s versatility is evident within this compilation as we are presented with two western scores, each one being quite removed and different from one another, with different styles and musical colours being utilised by the composer making each individual and in my opinion unique. Budd creating a more light hearted musical persona for Catlow which went hand in hand with the attitude of the films central character played by Yul Brynner, combining “ho down” type music with light and romantic sounding flourishes, plus there were also a few moments which had at their core a darker and more threatening sound as in INDIAN AMBUSH and to a degree GET THE GOLD both of which echoed the style of Jerry Goldsmith when he scored westerns, such as HOUR OF THE GUN, RIO CONCHOS and 100 RIFLES, brass, strings and an array of percussive elements combined with banjo and strummed guitar to create an exciting and tense atmosphere and even had the odd musical nod to Jerry Fielding along the way, with little nuances and quirks of orchestration that vaguely resemble Quincy Jones‘s McKENNAS GOLD soundtrack.

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Again though this is a re-recording there being far more music within the movie and most of this being darker in its style and atmosphere.
For me personally however the main score included on the disc has to be SOLDIER BLUE, it was an affecting movie and also a controversial one. One of it’s taglines being,

“THE STORY THEY WERE AFRAID TO TALK ABOUT,BECOMES THE MOVIE THEY CANT STOP TALKING ABOUT”.

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Budd’s score aided the movies progression and storyline wonderfully. The music contained, emotion, sadness, martial themes and also a certain amount of comic content which although present was not overpowering. Budd’s score underlined perfectly the developing relationship between Cresta (Candice Bergen) and US cavalry trooper Honus Gent (Peter Strauss) who are thrown together after a patrol escorting an army payroll and also Cresta are ambushed and mercilessly wiped out by Cheyenne Indians who were attempting to take back Cresta who had been abducted by them and lived with them for two years. Honus and Cresta embark on a perilous trek attempting to reach what the young trooper see’s as civilisation. The trooper thinks of himself as his travelling companions protector but it is in fact Cresta who is the worldly wise of the two. Little by little the two fall in love and this is enhanced by Budd’s touching theme for Cresta which is fragile and and innocent sounding. Budd’s score is a theme laden affair which is thick with haunting and uplifting musical passages, these manifest themselves in cues such as the exciting and exhilarating KIOWA COUNTRY, the beautiful and emotive CRESTA’S SONG, the martial influenced RIDE ON, the haunting FIELDS OF GREEN AND SKIES OF BLUE and the uplifting and up-tempo HOW WONDERFUL LIFE IS. The recording features an instrumental version of the poignant and powerful title song, which is performed over the main titles of the movie by Buffy Saint Marie who also wrote it, this version is arranged and performed by Budd on piano with strings and percussion adding their weight to the proceedings. My only hope is that one day someone will discover the original score somewhere, don’t get me wrong this is an entertaining release and one I for one would not be without, but the original score would be so much better, after all it is an important movie and also a milestone work for Roy Budd. Also included are two cues from the World War One drama ZEPPELIN, a very different style was employed by the composer for this assignment, released in 1971, the movie starred Michael York and Elke Sommer, Budd employing an explosive and dramatic style to underline the action.

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The stirring opening theme complete with sound effects from the movie and also a Mike Samme-esque vocal, ALL YOU WANT ME TO BE which had lyrics by Jack Fishman are included on this compilation. The sound quality on this release at least on SOLDIER BLUE is far better than the Japanese disc, and as mentioned previously it is filled with info and art work which is attention-grabbing and vibrant, well worth investing in.

THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA.

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When I arranged to meet with Roy Budd for our interview I had no idea he had just completed the mammoth task of scoring the 1925 silent film version of THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA, which starred Lon Chaney in the title role, he had hinted to me in a couple of phone conversations that he had been working on something grand and also that he was very pleased with the end result. “I have just finished working on the silent version of THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA”. It has been restored and looks magnificent; I have just recorded the score and am waiting to hear when the compact disc of the recording will be released”. Roy was certainly excited about the project and was very proud that he had been involved on the picture. “I have written 82 minutes of music for the picture and it was certainly a very different experience for me as there is no dialogue, I am used to explosions and lots of dialogue in the pictures that I normally do, so when there were none of these to deal with it was like a dream. Writing nearly 90 minutes of music was a daunting task and also was very tiring, but the film inspired me and I just seemed to be able to get on with it quite easily. The film and also the score will premiere on September of this year (1993) at the Barbican with all the proceeds from the screening going to U.N.I.C.E.F. I will conduct the orchestra and hopefully the film and the music will finish at the same time (laughs). I am very proud of this score John and I am so pleased to say that I have been asked to score another silent movie and I am looking forward to this so much”. Sadly Roy never got to score another movie or indeed to conduct his sweeping and majestic score for THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA. His untimely death was a shock to all who knew him and also to those who collected and loved his music, this release of his opulent and gracious sounding musical soundtrack to THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA is more than just a welcome sight it is a tribute to the composers artistry his immense talent and above all his ability to create melodious, emotive and inspiring music. My lasting memory of Roy was his jovial manner and the way he made people feel comfortable when talking to them, but it was apparent that his passion for music and film and in particular THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA was paramount in his thoughts and his love of music just shone through. I spent a few hours with him when I interviewed him and it was like we had known each other all our lives, which I suppose I had via his music. He even asked me questions one that made me laugh was “So John how did you get involved with scoring STAR WARS, oh sorry wrong John !!!!!! So it is with much pleasure that is tinged with sadness that I review his last symphonic score, THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA.

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Performed by the RTL Symphony Orchestra which numbered some 80 plus musicians, Roy Budd’s PHANTOM OF THE OPERA score is a masterpiece of film scoring, the composer has created a work that is overflowing with rich and lush thematic material, sweeping string passages and growling brass flourishes adorn the score but it is also a soundtrack that contains a more delicate, intimate and romantic side. Roy’s score for PHANTOM is far removed from his jazz performances and also is different from his other film scores in the sense that it has a more classical sound and style to it, in fact it is reminiscent in many ways of thee film scores of Max Steiner with romantically tragic sounding strings and sumptuous orchestration. The composer makes good use of an eerie sounding organ solo to open the score with. Track number 1, BACK STAGE AT THE OPERA is a chilling and also melancholy sounding piece that after its organ introduction segues into a suitable grandiose and sweeping central theme with strings again being the mainstay of the performance enhanced by brass and woods and further supported by subdued percussive elements and piano that together create a proud and epic sounding piece which could be the work of either Steiner or Rozsa with commanding brass supported by percussion bringing the cue to a triumphant sounding conclusion. It is in the introduction of this cue that we hear for the first time THE PHANTOM THEME, which although unnerving is also filled with sadness and evokes an atmosphere of loneliness. The theme returns throughout the score and makes its second appearance in a more expanded version in track number 2, BALLERINAS/THE PHANTOM THEME, which begins in a slightly restrained fashion but soon builds with the composer relaying not only drama and romance in his music but hints at comedy and further conveys an air of charm and warmth, lulling the listener into a falsehood of well being and serenity before introducing the dark and sinister mood for the Phantom. Budd expresses his emotions wonderfully with his romantic and opulent score, and underlines and punctuates perfectly the picture with it’s driving and dramatic passages that are complimented and aided by the composers equal amount of less chilling and adventurous material that posses a luxurious and sumptuous sound which is comparable with the film music of the Golden age and evokes not just Steiner and Rozsa but Erich Korngold, Hugo Freidhofer and at times the melodic and lush sound achieved by composer Victor Young. Track number 3, GENITRIX, is the first time we hear the harpsichord within the score; it is a gentle and simple melody which is purveyed upon the instrument, but one that nonetheless grabs the listener’s attention and holds it for its relatively short running time of just over a minute.

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The harpsichord returns to repeat its performance in track number 6, THE MASKED BALL, on this occasion it acts as the introduction to an elegant and wistful waltz. Budd also acts an arranger within his own score when he arranges and adapts Charles Gounod’s ‘FAUST’ which plays a major role in the films storyline giving it new life and vitality and also integrating it wonderfully into the fabric of his original score. One of the highlights of the score for me personally is ON THE ROOF OF THE OPERA, which opens at first in a subdued manner but erupts with grand sounding fanfares of brass and percussion that are supported by strings and flyaway winds again shades of Korngold, this cue seems to have everything, grandeur, drama and also romanticism that is laced with melancholy that seems to cry out in despair at times underlining the Phantom’s obsessive craving for the object of his desire Christine. Surging strings, plaintive woodwinds, fierce growling brass and also low key but highly emotive strings work together to create a wealth of melody and a highly atmospheric piece. As the compact disc progress so does the urgency in the composers music, THE STRANGLERS WORK for example opens with shady sounding low strings, but soon these segue into a more melodic and calm musical persona, strings and woodwinds combine to fashion a haunting and tender sounding composition, this however alters with rising brass supported by percussion and driving strings bringing a sense of danger and foreboding to the proceedings, fierce brass stabs are embellished by pounding percussion and menacing horns, the strings then enter into the equation adding even more of a sinister mood to the composition. This dark atmosphere fades and all is well again as understated woods are given subdued but affecting support by low key strings which bring the cue to its conclusion.

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Track number 9 THE TORTURE CHAMBER is a tour de force of musical richness with strings and brass once again taking the lead and setting the scene and imparting upon the listener an almost impish sound in the first couple of minutes of the track, the cue soon changes direction and becomes a more subdued piece which although melodic still relays a sense of underlying unease. The final track on the disc is the powerful and highly volatile RACE OF RAGE, this is the longest cue on the compact disc and weighs in at a full twelve minutes, it contains many of the major themes and motifs from the score and sends us headlong towards a dazzling and exhilarating finale that will I know take your breath away. Budd brings all the elements of the orchestra together in a final and commanding end sequence that is filled with drama, tinged with romance and also filled with passion, danger and foreboding. This is a score that is simply a must have item, an essential purchase in fact it is something that all film music connoisseurs should have in their collection. Has it been worth the wait, YES IT HAS…

Re-mastering is courtesy of Richard Moore who has done a magnificent job, the release includes rare stills of the composer conducting the score in the sessions and also of him studying the score at the mixing desk.
With notes on the score and also a background on the film. Just go and buy it. NOW……

PHANTOM 1

AVAILABLE ON MISHKA MUSIC PRODUCTIONS. MPL015 AT AMAZON.

Roy Budd

Roy Budd
Roy Budd

Roy Budd was probably the most promising and talented composer and musician to come out of the UK since John Barry. Budd’s film scores were always greeted with much applause by collectors and his ability as a pianist was second to none, in fact it was astounding. Roy and I first met in 1992. This was after a long string of phone calls to PRS and then his agent. Then one Sunday afternoon the phone at home rang. I answered it and said “Hello”. A voice on the other end said “Is that John?”. I of course answered “Yes”. “Oh good – its Roy Budd”. Well that certainly surprised me. We chatted and Roy cracked a load of gags and arranged to meet up. He had told me he was going to start work on a massive work for the cinema but it was all hush hush. Of course I did not press him to reveal what this was but after about 5 minutes into our first meeting he told me all about the project which was for the silent movie THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA. I could tell he was really excited about the prospect of working on the film; it was not until July 21st 1993 we met again

 

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