My beloved John Wilson’s very first time on the podium in the Royal Albert was not with his eponymous orchestra—that was in 2009—but, at age 35, conducting the 50-piece BBC Concert Orchestra in their program, “British Film Music” (entire program available here in 14 parts). First up is William Walton‘s* score from the unseemly gorgeous (all blue skies and puffy white clouds) 1969 war picture Battle of Britain. “Battle in the Air” (in part 1 @1:20) is spirited, ravishing and very dramatic. I saw the film first-run back home in Minneapolis, then again a few years later in London and then again in, of all places, Patras, Greece, but it’s the music I remember most.
Yes love, that overtone did seem to go on forever, didn’t it?
Here’s the entire program:
- “Battle In the Air” from Battle of Britain (1969) / William Walton
- Suite from Anna Karenina (1948) / Constant Lambert
- Prelude from The 49th Parallel (1941) / Ralph Vaughan Williams
- Waltz from Genevieve (1953) / Larry Adler
- Theme from Lawrence of Arabia (1962) / Maurice Jarre
- Suite from The Red Shoes (1948) / Brian Easdale
- March from The Bridge On the River Kwai (1957) / Malcolm Arnold
- Love Theme from Yanks (1979) / Richard Rodney Bennett
- Medley from the Carry On film series (1958-1992) / Eric Rogers (arr Sutherland)
- Overture from Much Ado About Nothing (1993) / Patrick Doyle
- “Shakespeare In Love” from the film (1998) / Stephen Warbeck
- Suite from Wilde (1997) / Debbie Wiseman
- “Chicken Run” from the film (2000) / John Powell, Harry Gregson-Williams
- “Shadowlands” from the film (1993) / George Fenton
- “A Bridge Too Far” from the film (1977) / John Addison
- “Harry’s Wondrous World” from the Harry Potter film series (2001-2011) / John Williams
- March from The Dam Busters (1955) / Eric Coates
Cynthia Fleming, leader. Philip Achille, Cynthia Millar, soloists. Maida Vale Singers, chorus. Richard E Grant, host. Appearance by Sir Richard Attenborough.
** Because of his advanced age, Sir William Walton turned to friend Sir Malcolm Arnold for assistance with the orchestrations (which Arnold supplied, as well as writing additional cues). Harry Saltzman rejected the score, saying it wasn’t long enough. Ron Goodwin (who composed for Where Eagles Dare) wrote the replacement score, but Sir Laurence Olivier threatened to have his name removed in the credits if none of Walton’s original was used. For this reason, Walton’s original music for the “Battle In the Air” sequence was used in the climactic closing of the film.
- “The Story So Far, with Conductor John Wilson”
- “The Story So Far; Or, Conductor John Wilson—His Limits”