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The Adventurer: Ben Model has been creating and performing musical scores for silent film for more than 30 years and has been a resident silent film accompanist at the Museum of Modern Art in NYC for nearly a quarter of a century. He composes all of his own scores and his music evokes the character of the silent era, as well as acknowledges the expectations of modern audiences. Tonight’s Adventurer score was commissioned by the Boise Philharmonic and New York Ragtime Orchestra in 2006. Model often says of his work as a silent film accompanist that, for a field that’s been dead more than 80 years, he’s doing pretty well.
In the Adventurer Charlie Chaplin plays the role of a convict running from prison guards, saving a girl (Edna Purviance) from drowning, and foiling the efforts of her suitor (Eric Campbell) to apprehend him. It was Campbell’s last appearance as he died in an automobile accident shortly after the movie was completed. The Adventurer was released in 1917 and re-released in 1920, during a low point in Charlie’s creative output.
Fredrick J. Ricketts
Johannes Brahams (1833-1897
Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827)
Program notes: February 22, 2014
Program notes for tonight’s performance have been abstracted and modified from:various public domain websites. Ben Model's biography abstracted from http://www.silentfilmmusic.com/.
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Colonel Bogey: We've all heard it a thousand times. Colonel Bogey's main theme has been quoted at least 60 times in television shows and movies ranging from The Parent Trap (Disney, 1961) to The Bridge Over the River Kwai (Columbia, 1957), which won seven Academy Awards. In the River Kwai, British prisoners of war march into a Japanese internment camp whistling the Bogey theme. The tune, particularly to British audiences, makes a defiant statement as by the time World War II had come about, the already popular early 20th century melody had gained some well-known, if strongly worded, lyrics regarding Germany and the European theatre.
Bogey was published under the name of Kenneth J. Alford, a pen name for Fredrick Joseph Ricketts (1881-1945). Ricketts was a British Army Bandmaster and Royal Marines Director of Music. In the early 20th century commissioned British Military officers were discouraged from civilian commercial activity. Ricketts published under the name of Kenneth (eldest son's first name) J. (Joseph-his own middle name) Alford (his mother's maiden name).
Hungarian Dance No. 5: Johannes Braham’s (1833-1897) Hungarian Dances, all 21 of them, were finished in 1869 becoming some of his most popular pieces. The dances were originally written for piano in four hands, but have been widely arranged for many individual instruments and groups.
The most popular of the dances is Number 5 in F# minor (G minor for orchestra) and it has been heard in at least 33 television shows and movies (IMDb 2014) including: The Simpsons (Homer the Father, and Father Knows Best), I Spy (Eddie Murphy, 2002), Dracula, Dead and Loving it (Mel Brookes, 1995), and, Crash Tag Team Racing (a video game). One of the best known uses of this dance was in Charlie Chaplin's The Great Dictator where it was heard on the radio during the shaving scene.
Symphony No. 7 Allegretto: A simple “quarter note-eighth note-eighth note-quarter note-quarter note” pattern is the stunningly beautiful ostinato that Ludwig Van Beethoven (1770-1827) used to create one of his enduringly popular classical pieces. The pattern never departs, no matter what other ideas have been added, but is never dull. The Allegretto illustrates Beethoven's ability to combine simple patterns into complexly beautiful music.
The Seventh Symphony was premiered on December 8, 1813 in Vienna, Austria, and Beethoven himself conducted the performance. The music was well received with the audience demanding that the Allegretto be encored immediately. The entire symphony was performed three times within the next 10 weeks.
Beethoven's music is a popular soundtrack choice for movies and television shows with about 830 soundtrack credits (IMDb 2014). The Allegretto itself has been quoted or performed about 40 times in full length movies such as in The Kings Speech (heard as George delivers his first wartime speech), and in Mr. Holland's Opus. It has been heard on television in shows such as the short movie, It's the Easter Beagle Charlie Brown (played on the piano when Charlie is depressed).
Silent Film Snippets: During the silent film era, there was an active cadre of musicians in Butte, Montana and other cities who sat in orchestra pits performing music that fit the on-screen action. The music covers the gamut from tender love scenes, to executions, to infernal or witch scenes.
The Butte Symphony Orchestra archives includes some of these silent film pieces by Morris Aborn (Maurice Baron, violinist with the Seattle Symphony, violist with the San Francisco Symphony), Gaston Borch (principal cellist Pittsburgh Symphony), Harry Norton (Jacobs Band Music 1919), Leo Oehmler (Pittsburgh violinist and teacher), Otto Langey (cellist Borchert’s Boston Symphony Club and teacher), Lester Brockton (Mayhew Lester Lake, violinist Boston Symphony), Edouard Roberts, and Charles Herbert. Some of the pieces could well have been performed by Butte, Montana, “pit” orchestras as they accompanied silent films featuring performers like Charlie Chaplin.
2013 - 2014 Archived Notes
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