The Music of 'Arthur of the Britons'
Interview with Paul Lewis
You can say it's 'Arthur-Time' - and a good time. After the release of the series on DVD in 2008 in the UK and in Germany this year here comes the Music.
Now released: The Original Soundtrack Recording by Paul Lewis.
Read what acclaimed Composer Paul Lewis has to say to the visitors of olivertobias.co.uk about it:
rg: I've listened to the music and fell instantly in love with it! Since there wasn't to be heard anything about "Arthur" for, say, 30 years after it was originally shown on TV - and I can say, it was in the 70s in Germany as big a success as it was in Britain - I wondered: How come, that there is this recording just now?
Paul Lewis: The 40th anniversary of series 1 last year and series 2 this year seemed a very good time to release the music, especially as this year is also my 70th birthday year and the 50th anniversary of my first TV score.
rg: Is it a completely new recording?
Paul Lewis: The recording is the original as heard on the soundtrack, remastered from copies I have of the master tapes.
rg: How was it to "go back in time" for that recording?
Paul Lewis: "Going back in time" was fascinating, especially as I discovered some unedited session footage with me rehearsing the orchestra. I have previously re-recorded a suite from the music for my "Three Decade of TV Themes" CD, but this is the first time the original soundtrack recording has been available and the first time Elmer Bernstein's Title Theme has too.
rg: What was the timing like for the soundtrack - did you see much of the completed series before you composed or did you do it without having seen any at all?
Paul Lewis: The timing was very tight indeed. From briefing I had only 25 days to compose 80 minutes of music, mostly for full orchestra, including the orchestration which I always do myself, before driving to Brussels for two days recording.
I also orchestrated Elmer Bernstein's Title Theme from his pencil sketches, ignoring his suggestion to use a bass guitar. (I think he was confusing the West of England where the series was filmed with the Wild West of America!)
I didn't see any film as nothing had been shot and only two scripts had been written. I didn't even know what the lead actors looked like! I discussed with the producers the various situations that the music would have to cover and thereafter had to use my imagination!
Luckily I knew a lot about the period, having also been an archaeologist with a special interest in the mediaeval period. I wrote an extensive suite of music and showed the editors how to use it in the first two episodes, after which they chose the music sequences themselves.
I subsequently wrote a further 20 minutes of music, mostly variations on Bernstein's theme.
The CD contains 78 minutes of music. All the important sequences are there, but we omitted such things as war drums underscores, "stings" - isolated musical chords used for punctuation and dramatic emphasis - the many short end and beginning of part pieces in various moods and the multiple closing title versions of Bernstein's theme in different lengths to fit different length caption sequences.
rg: What was your inspiration for the lovely Rowena theme?
Paul Lewis: Executive Producer Patrick Dromgoole rang me and asked me to be in his office the following morning, so I got up very early the next day to drive across the south of England to Bristol with no idea why Patrick wanted to see me. While I was waiting in HTV's reception area the commissionaire mentioned that they were making a series about King Arthur.
A Celtic-style melody immediately sprang, fully formed, into my my head; I took an envelope out of my pocket and wrote the tune on the back of it. The melody became "The Fair Rowena" and I still have the envelope.
rg: What do you remember from the original work on it?
Paul Lewis: I remember the intensity of composing so much music and scoring it for orchestra in such a short time, working every day from six in the morning to midnight and often one the following morning. It finished off a love affair with a Russian artist who complained that I hadn't told her I loved her for two weeks - "I HAVE been rather busy" was my reply - and made way for a love affair with a Chinese artist who was more understanding!
rg: Have you met Oliver Tobias back then?
Paul Lewis: When I returned from Brussels I took the music tapes to HTV to play the recordings to the producers. To my surprise and delight Oliver Tobias sat with us and listened to the entire score. Not only was he a lovely man but I had never had a star take such an interest in the music before, and I haven't ever since.
rg: Also, I'm wondering, how composing for a show like that is done? For example: do you compose on the paper only? Or do you also direct the orchestra?
Paul Lewis: I do it all. I always compose in pencil, orchestrate - (the sound of the orchestra is in my head as I compose) - and finally conduct the orchestra and produce the recording sessions. The only thing I delegated was the copying out of the parts from my orchestral score for the individual musicians: I had a professional copyist for this.
rg: Thank you very much for this interview.
Find more about Paul Lewis on his Website: www.paullewiscomposer.com
rg / Webmaster