26 May

Dateline June 2002

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"Journal Into Melody’s" own Gossip Column

 Sir William Walton’s original score for the film "Battle of Britain" is finally going to be restored to the soundtrack in this, his centenary year. Barely four minutes of his 25-minute composition were heard on the soundtrack (the marvellous Battle in the Air sequence), after the producers decided that they wanted the ‘typical American movie epic score’, and engaged Ron Goodwin. Walton’s score will not be new to his admirers: in 1999 Rykodisc issued a CD containing both the Walton and Goodwin scores (RCD 10747) and we revealed the story of how the ‘lost’ tapes had been rediscovered in JIM 139 (page 69). Apparently there are plans to issue a DVD of "Battle of Britain" with separate soundtracks containing both scores. When interviewed about this in April, Ron Goodwin said: "It’s a good idea. It will be a collector’s item. I never heard Walton’s score, apart from the ‘Battle in the Air’ section. I purposely didn’t because it would have been difficult to hear it first and then write a new score." Walton, who wrote the Coronation March for King George VI, and 16 years later for his daughter, Queen Elizabeth II, as well as the scores for Henry V and Hamlet, had been particularly inspired writing music for the film because he had been so devastated by the war, his widow recalled. Lady Walton remembered the pain of rejection, which was all the more acute because he had been so proud of his work for the film. "He couldn’t sleep for weeks," she said. "Nothing like that had ever happened to him." Director Guy Hamilton said: "The producers caved in to the demands of United Artists, thus ruining Walton’s carefully crafted score. I think the idea of resuscitating William’s tremendous score is entirely valid." Footnote: When asked to step in at the last minute, Ron Goodwin wrote the 50-minute score in two to three weeks. It turned out to be one of his great works for the screen, alongside Those Magnificent Men in their Flying Machines, Where Eagles Dare and 633 Squadron.

♫ We know that many of our readers show a keen interest in music chosen for various TV programmes and commercials. Ray Clark recommends a reference book which should appeal to RFS members in Britain – "Tele Tunes 2002". The lists also extend to films and shows, and cover well-known shows from years ago, as well as more recent productions. UK members can get a copy by sending a cheque for £18.50 to the publishers, Mike Preston Music, The Glengarry, Thornton Drive, Morecambe Bay, Lancashire, LA4 5PU.

 Tony Bennett is back in the UK for more concerts this summer. If you’re lucky enough to get tickets, you can catch him at Clyde Auditorium, Glasgow on 2 July; London’s Royal Festival Hall on 4 & 5 July; and Liverpool Kings Dock on 7 July. Thanks to Mark Fox for this information. Early in April Tony made a flying visit to London, including an appearance on Michael Parkinson’s TV show. His former manager Derek Boulton caught up with him, and Tony expressed a wish to have as much Farnon orchestral music as possible on CD. Thanks to the current seven Vocalion reissues of Decca and Rediffusion albums, plus a few more recent CDs, the RFS Record Service was very happy to oblige! A parcel was promptly despatched to Derek, which soon found its way to Tony at the Dorchester.

♫ In this issue you will find a review of Steven Wills’ latest CD "A Girl For All Seasons", plus details of his previous release "Girl in a Suitcase". Readers will know that proceeds from these CDs go to Winchester Hospital Radio, and during 2001 Steven collected a total of £970, which was supplemented by a further £736 from Barclays Bank re their ‘pound-for-pound’ employee scheme from Test Card Convention sales. The latest CD includes a number of tracks composed by Jimmy Kennedy, which have been made available to Steven by Jimmy’s son Derek and his wife Rosemary. Jimmy Kennedy’s centenary is July 20th 2002, so this release provides a timely tribute to a talented songwriter.

♫ ‘Society Century’ prompted a certain amount of brain cell activity in our last issue. Hucklebuckle mentioned three anagrams by Brian Henson of famous Farnon compositions. John Govier wrote to put us all out of our misery. SO NICE AT ASCOT is "State Occasion"; LET JUNIOR MEND YOYO is "Journey Into Melody"; and I WISH TO LIFT A HUGE BUN becomes "How Beautiful Is Night".

♫ As we go to press we have learned that the Birmingham Civic Society will be unveiling a plaque in honour of one of their city’s most famous musicians – Albert W. Ketèlbey. The event is due to take place on Wednesday 22 May at the Birmingham and Midland Institute. Tony Clayden has been invited to attend on behalf of our Society, and in our next issue we hope to have his report and a photograph.

♫ Philip Brady gave our Society a generous ‘plug’ in the Nightline Newsletter for 3AW Melbourne on 8 April (available on e-mail).

 Alexander Schatte writes from Berlin with some news that will interest German RFS members. This year the Munich Radio Orchestra celebrates its 50th anniversary, and a fascinating book is now available – 50 Jahre Münchner Rundfunkorchester 1952-2002, edited by Doris Sennefelder – ISBN 3-7618-1530-1, price €24.90.

♫ We have heard that John Wilson is working on the score for a new television production about Winston Churchill.

 Gavin Sutherland has composed a musical based on "Little Women", which will be performed at the Bloomsbury Theatre in London during July. Antony Askew tells us that the music is magnificent, perhaps slightly reminiscent of "Oklahoma".

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About Geoff 123
Geoff Leonard was born in Bristol. He spent much of his working career in banking but became an independent record producer in the early nineties, specialising in the works of John Barry and British TV theme compilations.
He also wrote liner notes for many soundtrack albums, including those by John Barry, Roy Budd, Ron Grainer, Maurice Jarre and Johnny Harris. He co-wrote two biographies of John Barry in 1998 and 2008, and is currently working on a biography of singer, actor, producer Adam Faith.
He joined the Internet Movie Data-base (www.imdb.com) as a data-manager in 2001 and looked after biographies, composers and the music-department, amongst other tasks. He retired after nine years loyal service in order to continue writing.