The Imperial War Museum commissioned me to score the Battle of the Somme for the 90th anniversary in 2006. It was a very exciting prospect to write the music for such an important film – half the British population watched it when it came out in 1916 and there’s some amazing footage. The music was recorded and performed live with film by the Philharmonia orchestra for the premier at the Queen Elizabeth Hall and received a 5 star review in the Times.
It was very challenging writing music for this film as there are some very contrasting scenes juxtaposed. The example above shows this, as we see happy Soldiers receiving mail, then it suddenly cuts to dead bodies in a crater. So the music was needed to link these contrasting images, help make them flow and enhance the loose structure of the film. At same time I wanted the music to reflect the appropriate emotion for the image, so I have written a happy marching theme to match the spirit of soldiers marching off to war, but in sensitive scenes of the dead and wounded I often wrote something more simple, to not overpower the images and give the viewer space to think.
During my research I discovered that my Great Uncle (whom I knew – he survived the war) was a stretcher bearer, attached to the 29th Division on July 1st 1916 (who appear in the film) so it’s possible he could even be in the film. I went over to the Somme Battlefields and, using his diary, retraced his footsteps. It was an incredibly moving trip. I was particularly interested in the soldiers’ point of view and doing all this research helped me to write the music from this angle.
Finding out all about Fred and his diaries has been very important to me, so I wanted to transcribe them for others to read and also put up his pictures and letters, as finding out about someone who was actually in the battle really helps brings it all to life.
On the left are links related to the Battle of the Somme project including information about the film and music.
The Battle of the Somme Centenary Tour 2016
In 2016 we are planning 100 performances of The Battle of the Somme as part of the First World War Centenary Commemorations.
Both professional and amateur orchestras will be performing Laura Rossi’s score live with film to mark the 100th anniversary of the Battle.
We are also running an education project alongside this, working with secondary school children.
If you or your orchestra are interested in being part of this tour please get in touch. firstname.lastname@example.org
More details here Somme100 FILM