My Favourite Scores – 1936

  • Things To Come
  • Sir Arthur Bliss
  • Chandos / 2001 / 32:06

Reading the excellent liner notes of Chandos’ excellent release of the film music of Sir Arthur Bliss it is clear that the music for this film had a tortuous life even at birth. Having been assured by H.G. Wells himself that Bliss’ music would be an integral element of the film and not just “tacked on” at the end, Bliss prepared a suite of music from his score for a concert at the Proms in 1935. But Bliss’ music was severely modified for inclusion in the final film release in 1936. Bliss felt obliged to modify his music for the suite in order to give the film audiences what they had heard in the film. And there was more changes to come…

What Chandos has done with for this recording is to return Bliss’ music more to a state that was composed by Bliss – and it reinforces just how powerful Bliss’ music is. Bliss’ vision of the future is not a particularly happy one with tracks such as “The World In Ruins” and “Pestilence” that paint broad strokes, that focuses on providing emotional backdrops for the film and hinting at the hardship. I prefer the way the composer provides an emotional feel with the music rather than spelling out everything in music.

There’s a lot to discover with this score: not just in the tracks cited above. Lighter (it’s all relative) moments include “Ballet For Children” and there’s an almost patriotic feel to the concluding “Epilogue”.