My score to Frau im mond score is my largest-in-scale to date. Something about human-beings building a gargantuan rocket to fly to the moon, and nearly killing themselves in the process, seems to me to begs for an overwhelming sound. And once landed on the lunar surface, the music develops a stranger characteristic while in the shadows of the moon's dark side. The film's characters deeply lose themselves and their inhibitions in the process, as does the music. It's quite a journey for all.
The Adaptation of Heinrich Marschner’s Der Vampyr for Nosferatu
At the premiere screening of NOSFERATU, in Berlin on March 4th, 1922, it has been well documented that the orchestra who accompanied the film performed as pre-curtain stage-setter, the operatic overture to DER VAMPYR (1826) by German opera-composer Heinrich Marschner.
Despite having heard somewhat truncated versions of Rapsodia Satanica over the last 30 years, I hadn't a clue that its composer, Pietro Mascagni, invented an approach that most film composers only began to discover more than 10 years later. Even then they were not executed to such perfection as was Mascagni's first and only attempt at cinema.
Typically Buster Keaton gave no indication as to what he wanted for his films musically. There are three musical cue sheets in existence (film-distributor’s suggestions of musical passages) to two of his features, but The General is not among them. Therefore unlike Chaplin, who was a meticulous composer for his own films, we as musicians are left to our own devices when it comes to Keaton.
Vienna Konzerthaus commissions new score for Science-fiction epic, FRAU IM MOND
The Wien Konzerthaus commissions it's second score in as many years from composer Timothy Brock, the Fritz Lang three-hour Science-fiction epic, FRAU IM MOND (1929). The planned premiere is scheduled for two live performances in June 2017, with the Tonkünstler Orchester and Brock at the helm.
On September 19, 2014, Timothy Brock made his season subscription debut with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra at Avery Fisher Hall in Lincoln Center. Brock had conducted members of the NY Philharmonic twice before, in performances of the chamber orchestra-version of The Gold Rush for the New York Film Festival in 2012. But this event marked the first time in history a Chaplin film had been performed “live” at Avery Fisher Hall, and was listed by the New York Times as one of the “10 Best Classical Music Events of 2014.”
Jonathan Marlow interviews Timothy Brock in an article spanning his 30-year career in silent film. Read the full article here.
Brock records his restoration of Shostakovich masterpiece with Vienna's ORF.
Working hand in hand with the ORF Radio Symphonie Orchester Wien and the Österreichisches Filmmuseum, Timothy Brock conducted a recording session of his restoration of Dmitri Shostakovich only silent-film score, NEW BABYLON (1929/30).
In 2012, I was commissioned by the venerable and storied Spanish institution, Teatro de la Zarzuela de Madrid, to compose a new score to a film that was, in essence, lost. Having restored the original Hugo Riesenfeld compilation in 1995, I was happy to finally get the chance to compose my own “send up” of the original, just as Chaplin did to DeMille in 1915. And to premiere it in this famous theater, all the better.
Hugo Riesenfeld, conductor of Roxy Theatre Orchestra, was commissioned by American impresario Samuel 'Roxy' Rothapfel to adapt the Bizet for all screenings of Carmen nationally. This is a tremendous task as each theatre, large and small, has vastly varying degrees of sizes and utterly different instrumentation.
100 years of “The Little Tramp"
In preparation of the festivities planned for the centenary of the first appearance of Charles Chaplin's infamous character, the Cineteca di Bologna, in cooperation with the Association Chaplin, has commissioned from Timothy Brock a new score for the very first “Little Tramp” film, KID AUTO RACES AT VENICE (1914).
Timothy Brock talks to June Ackerman about his career as a silent-film conductor/composer, his abhorrence for click-tracks, and getting back to the concert-hall stage.
What if the composers Hanns Eisler and Jaques Ibert got into a nice little fistfight? This was my first thought before starting the score to Prix de beauté. Two seemingly opposite directions were before me, and instead of settling on one and I decided to simply let these two thoughts slug it out. On the surface, the coloring and ornamentation are strictly a Franco-file display, but the meat of the structure itself has a pure Teutonic-robustness, and with no unnecessary frivolity. I simply imagined the screenwriters Pabst and Claire in the same room, and took it from there.
Silent film is closer to opera than much contemporary cinema. Its combination of images and musical accompaniment requires an emotional engagement and concentration that can create an immersive experience. Also, with silent film we are often reclaiming a neglected history and rediscovering lost works and lost stars. Hence, like opera, its appeal to enthusiasts and obsessive fans.
Scoring Ford's 3 Bad Men
When approaching the scoring of Three Bad Men, it was clear from the beginning that I had to draw from two, equally strong ‘memories’: that of my own family (my Irish grandfather and his stories on the Oklahoma land rush), and that of my symphonic upbringing, shaped by quintessentially American, yet heavily European-influenced, musicians. Composers like David Diamond, Aaron Copland, Roy Harris, Virgil Thomson who were first and foremost students of Nadia Boulanger.
A new score for Marcel L'Herbier's Feu Mathias Pascal
In most silent film scores, there are a number of musical thematic materials that, through the process of character development, blossom (or decay) in the course of the film. Composers tend to develop those passages in the traditional manner, through melodic and rhythmic exploration. Nevertheless, with Feu Mathias Pascal a much deeper treatment was required, as the score, over a span of nearly three hours, sees two lifetimes come and go, is constantly walking the thin line between the various forms of hysterics (and genres) and heavily relies on narrative, visual and expressive nuances.
Scoring for Hitch by Neil Brand
I believe that there is such a thing as a ‘Hitchcock score’, for all the fact that Hitch worked with numerous composers during his sound career. It’s a score heavily weighted towards the tonality of Bernard Herrmann and Miklos Rozsa, a textbook compendium of tension and thrill motifs which soars romantically in the love scenes with just a hint of warning that there may be no happy ending. This is the toolbox I raided when I embarked on this score for Blackmail and I have enjoyed it more than any work I have ever done before.
I enjoy the absence of category Lady Windermere falls under, and rarely do I get asked to walk that middle ground between intense drama and comedy. With Ernst Lubitsch and Oscar Wilde, however, the composer is expected to run this thin line between the two all night long, and it is more than difficult to musically convey the relationship between them without it sounded terribly over-wrought and tired. As usual I am compelled to adhere to the screen quite closely, yet this emotionally expansive film has provided me the opportunity to perhaps expose my first love and deepest roots, from the concert-hall.
Writing for Keaton is unique. In my 20 years of writing orchestral scores for silent film, somehow what comes out in my writing for him is both personal and potentially chaotic. And in Sherlock Jr., Keaton’s display of genius and acrobatic melancholy provided no exception.
The music for ASK FATHER (1919), commissioned by, and dedicated to The Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, is the first film score I had written for a Harold Lloyd comedy. This charming short contains a very simple premise; that of Harold catastrophically attempting (over the course of 13 minutes) to capture more than 3 seconds of undivided attention from the businessman father of his intended bride-to-be, in order to ask for his blessing.
This score contains what I like most about Chaplin’s writing. It is so terribly free, and to my ears, one of his deepest and darkest scores. It also speaks volumes about where Chaplin was as a composer in 1942. He had written the score to The Great Dictator two years earlier, and wasn’t composing Mr. Verdoux for another five. One can only assume that without the pressure of looming deadline, to a film composer such time allotment is more than an inducement to detail and finesse. And this score is symptomatic of what a composer can do when given the time.
The dilemma of the 1977 version of the score to A Woman of Paris is a complex one, and for me, a source of mixed feelings. On behalf of the Chaplin estate, and of behalf of the composer himself, the primary objective has always been to restore the Chaplin scores as close (as I can come) to how Chaplin heard them himself. In the case of Modern Times, it was a painstaking 14 months of solid meticulous work, and City Lights and The Circus being much the same. However for A Woman of Paris, my 8th score restoration for the Chaplins, the goal was the same, but more than few educated guesses and well-thought-out liberties had to be taken. This was a very different kind of restoration.
Written during Chaplin’s late musical period in 1968, Chaplin shows us his unique gift for capturing a particular elemental sound. In these pages one can almost smell the sawdust and grease-paint. The rousing set of circus-band numbers, intertwined with poignant reflections of the hardships that circus life bears, is commandeered in unabashed and fun way.
The Intimate Score of the Tramp-Composer: Restoring Music for City Lights.
An Interview with Timothy Brock
The day I completed my current picture City Lights, was one of extreme relief. After fretting and stewing for almost two years, to see the end in sight was like the finish of a marathon. Usually after each picture I go to bed for a day or two to replenish my nerves, but this time there was another task ahead - the composing of music and synchronizing it to the picture.
Charlie Chaplin, Woman’s Home Companion, 1932
Written during the composer’s middle period, it stands as a unique work. The Chaplin Revue is his first silent-film score written after his exile from the United States, and Chaplin now had the opportunity to spend more time composing after completing A King In New York in 1957. This was also the first score he wrote with his new musical associate, Eric James, with whom he ultimately had an 18-year collaboration. At age 70, it is from this point onward that Chaplin devoted much of his time to being a composer until his death in 1977.
November 18th to December 17th, 1935. The 89-minute musical score to Modern Times takes its final form within the confines of the UA recording studios under the supervision of its composer, Charles Chaplin. A lengthy four-week-long session, unheard of by studio standards, during which Chaplin experimented both successfully and unsuccessfully, and each musician (and conductor) was at the whim of the meticulous composer.
In the score to The Kid (1971), Chaplin takes us back, musically speaking, to his own youth in the English Music Hall. Broad strokes of light pantomimic music, laced with the indelible Chaplin melodic trademark. The strings are lush, the winds are light and the power of over-sentimentality is kept at bay by a composer who knows his subjects. There is an over all feeling of foggy charm in these late scores that is difficult to pinpoint, but these films are forever poeticized by them.