Battle of the Somme, The - to the 1916 film by JB McDowell & Geoffrey Malins


  • Laura Rossi
silent film score
Full Orchestra, Silent Film
2(II=picc).2.2.2(II=cbsn) - 4331 - timp(=perc) - perc(2/3): BD/susp.cym/tgl/SD/vib/glsp/wdbl/finger cyms/sandpaper blocks/xyl/guiro/tamb/t.bells/thunder sheet/wind machine/field drum/cabassa/bongos/vibraslap - harp - pno - strings

Laura Rossi’s score was commissioned by the Imperial War Museum for the 90th anniversary of the Battle in 2006.

First Performance
22.10.2006, Queen Elizabeth Hall, London, UK: Philharmonia Orchestra/Nic Raine

Full score and parts for hire. The Imperial War Museums are offering the film hire free of charge via Somme100 FILM to mark the Centenary of the Somme Battle. To sign up to the project and find out more, please go to or email

When we send the music we will also send you a link to a low-res .mov file of the film with click-track for your conductor, for rehearsal purposes only. For the live screening the IWM film will be booked through Somme100FILM.

More info about the composer and the film here.


About the Battle of The Somme Centenary Tour from laura rossi on Vimeo.


Programme Notes

Smiling awkwardly at the new-fangled cameras, troops move towards the Front in the Great War. Their actions are far removed from the swagger and march of war films, but then this is real. The Battle of the Somme remains one of the most successful British films ever made. It is estimated over 20 million tickets were sold in Great Britain in the first two months of release, and the film was distributed world-wide to demonstrate to allies and neutrals Britain’s commitment to the First World War. It is the source of many of that conf lict’s most iconic images. It was made by British official cinematographers Geoffrey Malins and John McDowell. Though it was not intended as a feature film, once the volume and quality of their footage had been seen in London, the British Topical Committee for War Films decided to compile a feature-length film. Laura Rossi’s new score was commissioned in 2006 to mark the 90th anniversary of The Battle of the Somme as a soundtrack for the digitally restored film. When embarking on her research on the film and the battle in preparation for her composition, Laura discovered her great uncle, Fred Ainge, (whom she knew as he survived the war) was a stretcher-bearer attached to the 29th Division on 1 July 1916. In preparation for composing the new score she visited the Somme Battlefields, using Fred’s diaries to locate the areas in which he served. The Battle of the Somme gave its 1916 audience an unprecedented insight into the realities of trench warfare, controversially including the depiction of dead and wounded soldiers. It shows scenes of the build-up to the infantry offensive including the massive preliminary bombardment, coverage of the first day of the battle (the bloodiest single day in Britain’s military history) and depictions of the small gains and massive costs of the attack. The Battle of the Somme’s importance was recognised in 2005 by its formal inscription in the UNESCO ‘Memory Of The World’ register – the first British document of any kind to be included, and one of the few films that has so far been added to the register. ‘Memory of the World’ is a programme established by UNESCO to raise awareness of the planet’s rich and diverse documentary heritage, and to encourage its preservation. The most visible face of the project is a register of recognised documents and documentary collections.

More info here -

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