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Roses of Picardy

In the novel the children play hymns for Birkin on their gramophone. In the film they play the WWI hit tune Roses of Picardy, which subtly underlines the theme of Alice Keach, her roses, and lost love.

howard

Roses are shining in Picardy,
In the hush of the silver dew,
Roses are flow'ring in Picardy,
But there's never a rose like you!
And the roses will die with the summertime,
And our roads may be far apart,
But there's one rose that dies not in Picardy,
'Tis the rose that I keep in my heart...

 

 

 

 

 

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Find the Music:


arrow Buy the sheet music
arrow Buy the recording (and hear excerpts of the score)

recording

The Classical Hymns
arrow Hear the film’s opening Schubert (the flashback)
arrow Hear the film’s Verdi
arrow Hear the closing Schubert (the flash-forward)

A Note on the Score :

The first movement speaks of an idyllic pastoral scene, but a dark shadow lurks beneath the beauty and serenity. The second is a March which sounds almost incongruous played on sweet-toned strings rather than trumpet and drums. The Elegy conveys desolation, man’s inhumanity to man and the overturning of ideals. The fourth movement is a rustic dance, interrupted briefly by a reference to the previous movement. It is as if a young veteran, determined to blot out the horrors of the past and make a new start, is haunted by intrusive memories. The final movement is a resolution. Beauty still exists, though perhaps with added poignancy, and idealism is not dead.  
Miranda Jackson
A Month in the Country, notes on the sheet music

More Info:

arrowHoward Blake’s website

snowman

arrow The Snowman on YouTube
arrow Howard Blake 2006 interview (on The Snowman)


 


 

ill titleScoring the Picture

Not long after shooting had wrapped in September 1986, a rough cut of A Month in the Country was assembled. Now there was a fresh problem: the production was already over budget and the film had no score. Schubert’s lush hymn Deutsche Messe: Zum Sanctus had been run under Birkin’s flashback to war, and was repeated under the final flash-forward to his memory of redemption. A bit of Verdi had been laid in under Birkin’s work uncovering the mural. But otherwise the picture was rough and silent.

In what might be seen as a quixotic gesture by the makers of a little film on an exhausted budget, the decision was made to approach one of Britain’s foremost composers and ask him to do the job.

howardHoward Blake recalls: “I was very busy on other projects at the time and wasn’t at all sure I could fit it in. I went to a viewing and saw that the film was very profound, with a serious anti-war theme, but a certain amount of ‘found’ choral music had already been laid in by the editors.  Pat O’Connor, the delightful Irish director, seemed keen for me to do it but I said I needed to think about it. He rang a couple of days later and asked if I’d decided. I replied that due to the use of choral inserts I could only see the score working as an elegy for string orchestra and I rather doubted that the producers would agree to such a thing. Pat insisted on seeing me and came over to my studio in Kensington that evening.

“‘Explain what you mean,’ he said, and I explained that I loved the film and I thought the choral/orchestral music worked brilliantly but it was very big and rich and I felt a score would have to emerge from it and be very pure and expressive and quite small — and that I could only hear this in my head as done by strings only. 

“‘Play me something to show me what you mean,’ he said, so I talked the film through and improvised on the piano something of what I had in mind and ended by saying: ‘It’s probably not what you had in mind at all?’  At this point, to my great surprise, Pat knelt on the floor and implored me to do the score. He said: ‘It’s exactly right, I can hear everything you’re suggesting and I just love it — please, please do it!’

“How could I possibly refuse?”

Mr. Blake agreed “in lieu of a reasonable fee” to retain the copyright to his music. His score for A Month in the Country was recorded at CTS Studios, Wembley, in November 1986, with Mr. Blake conducting the Sinfonia of London. The Suite for Strings called A Month in the Country was adapted by Mr. Blake from the film, and recorded by Paul Daniel with the English Northern Philharmonia in 1994.

ill titleHoward Blake

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