Instrumentation

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

Availability

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 www.Somme100FILM.com or email somme100film@gmail.com.

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 - http://www.laurarossi.com/live-music-to-silent-film/somme/

Reviews

‘And these troops in the mud grinned or stared at us to a new music score by Laura Rossi, brilliantly effective, played with typical dexterity and polish by the Philharmonia Orchestra under the conductor Nic Raine. Whatever piercing image you might pick — the troops’ cheerful waves, the mascot dog dead with its master, the trench channel’s mud and corpses — Rossi’s score and the IWM’s new print will help them to reverberate even further into the future.’

Geoff Brown, The Times

‘A thoughtful, elegiac work which wonderfully matched the images.’
Jerome Kuehl – History Today

‘Rossi supplies a rich, subtle and binding score that connects 2008 to 1916.’
Luke McKernan, The Bioscope

‘Rossi’s masterful knowledge of orchestration is evident from the very start of the CD, never allowing for a dull moment in the music. Her orchestrations are on par with those of the great Hollywood composers. This is a truly breathtaking score that will positively influence other young composers. Incredibly well written and performed, Rossi’s score for The Battle of the Somme was among the best of 2008.’
Oscar Flores, Filmmusicsite.com

‘A work of emotional depth and beauty… Laura’s music, recorded by the Philharmonia Orchestra and conducted by Nic Raine, reflects the event’s heroism with superlative accuracy… A truly important piece’
 Keith Ames, Musician Magazine

‘You cannot deny the power of this score; Laura Rossi very adeptly creates an emotional picture through impressive orchestral writing which is at once colourful, honourable, celebratory and moving. The performance by the Philharmonia Orchestra, under Nic Raine, is pristine and the CD package hugely interesting as it features extracts from the diary of a stretcher-bearer from the 29th Division – Fred Ainge, Laura Rossi’s Great Uncle. The Battle of the Somme is a fine memorial of music, for a point in history that should never be forgotten.’

Michael Beek – Music from the Movies

'Ninety years later, what has etched the slaughter of the battle of the Somme into the British memory? A few hideous facts have helped: the 19,240 British dead on the first day; an overall casualty figure of more than one million. But more than anything it is the work of a film: The Battle of the Somme, photographed on the spot in 1916, planned as British war-boosting propaganda, yet containing in its schizophrenic jumble painful shots of the dead, near dead and bandaged remnants. At the time almost half the British population saw the Somme film in cinemas, many seeking evidence of loved ones; and there has scarcely been a First World War documentary that hasn’t plundered its images. On Sunday night this extraordinary film reached two new milestones. One was a certificate marking its entry into Unesco’s registry of documentary artefacts, Memory of the World — the first film, and British item, to make the grade. The second milestone was the Imperial War Museum’s new presentation of its archive treasure. Many shots had previously looked bleached; digital restoration brought the detail back. And these troops in the mud grinned or stared at us to a new music score by Laura Rossi, brilliantly effective, played with typical dexterity and polish by the Philharmonia Orchestra under the conductor Nic Raine. Inevitably the music was coloured by hindsight. Though brass rang out in the finale, there was no simple patriotic toot-tooting. We approached the gates of pathos, but avoided mawkish sentiment. Sombre introspection ruled. Hovering strings surveyed the pre-battle landscape. A wind machine’s eerie gale triggered the first attack. Stretcher cases returned to a plangent oboe (Rossi’s grandfather had been a bearer). The guns’ bombardments prompted synchronised timpani rolls and shivers from the piano’s plucked strings or lower keys. Nothing was overdone here; nothing screamed. In this music, quite correctly, we heard courage and futility. And plenty of tension: a tremendous help in carrying us through a film flung together in the heat of the moment, never recollected in tranquillity. Whatever piercing image you might pick — the troops’ cheerful waves, the mascot dog dead with its master, the trench channel’s mud and corpses — Rossi’s score and the IWM’s new print will help them to reverberate even further into the future.'
The Times (Geoff Brown), October 25, 2006

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