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Musical Opinion (2011) - New Music for Old Films




The British Film Institute has announced that it is bringing Alfred Hitchcock's early, rarely seen, film masterpieces as an official part of the London 2012 Festival next summer, the finale of the Cultural Olympiad. In a series of spectacular oneoff events, the silent films will be accompanied by newly commissioned orchestral music scores from Nitin Sawhney, Tansy Davies and Daniel Cohen. Nitin Sawhney will write a new score for The Lodger: A Story of the London Fog (1926) to be performed by him with the London Symphony Orchestra, commissioned by independent film distributor Network Releasing in partnership with the BFI. Nitin said, 'This is a dream project for me. Bernard Herrmann is one of my great musical heroes. It would be honour enough to follow in Herrmann's footsteps but to actually score a film that precedes his musical genius is a wonderful opportunity for creative imagination and invention. Hitchcock is a Director whose shadow any composer would be proud to stand in.' Daniel Cohen will undertake a new score for The Pleasure Garden (1925), to be performed by the Academy Manson Ensemble from the Royal Academy of Music. The Pleasure Garden, Hitchcock's first film as director, also marks Daniel Cohen's first commissioned score. Daniel said, 'The first time I saw a Hitchcock film was in the sixth form ‑ by the end of the day I'd seen three, 'The Lady Vanishes' 'The 39 Steps' and 'North by Northwest'. The last of the three, with its astonishing Bernard Herrmann score, later became the single most important inspiration for me to write music for films! Tansy Davies has also been commissioned to write a score for one of the silent Hitchcock films (to be announced shortly). Tansy's commission is made possible by PRS for Music Foundation.

Thanks to the BFI's fundraising campaign 'Rescue the Hitchcock 9' new restorations of the films have begun by experts at the BFI National Archive. However, more funds are still needed if the BFI is to achieve its ambition to restore these early works (1925‑29) to their former glory, and bring them to life on the big screen and with new scores for the 2012 celebrations. Martin Scorsese, chair of The Film Foundation said, 'I'm thrilled that these films will be preserved and made available with the best possible prints for authences to enjoy. Hitchcock remains an enduring influence on world cinema and these early works provide a wonderful glimpse into the development of his signature style'. These funds are being used towards the restoration of The Lodger, The Ring, Blackmail and The Pleasure Garden.

The live performances will provide authences with unique experiences at venues (to be confirmed) across London and will be followed in autumn 2012 by a complete Hitchcock retrospective at BFI Southbank.

Born in 1899 in Leytonstone, Hitchcock's nine silent films were made in the silent era and he was hailed very early on as a genius by reviewers. Authences and critics were captivated by his daring mix of European editing styles combined with dramatic composition and a powerful mixture of humour laced with high drama. Anyone who has thrilled to Hitchcock's later Hollywood classics such as Vertigo, The Birds or Psycho will recognise elements of the Hitchcock touch in his earliest works. Hitchcock's The Mountain Eagle ‑ the tenth of his silent films ‑ is still missing and top of the BFI's Most Wanted list.