Press coverage on The Phantom of the Opera
Before its premiere on the 8th of October 2017, Roy Budd and his wife Sylvia Budd were honoured with countless news articles as well as on TV and radio in the UK and abroad. Here is a small selection (click on the image to enlarge):
“When the renowned composer Roy Budd died aged 46 he was weeks away from the premiere of his dream composition. His symphony for the 1920s silent film The Phantom of the Opera was to be performed in London in front of an audience full of celebrities. Then he had a brain haemorrhage. Nearly a quarter of a century later his widow, Sylvia, is on the verge of fulfilling his dream. “The most important thing in his life was the music for this concert,” she said. “He was weeks away from it and then he had the stroke. As he lay there I said to him, ‘I promise I will take care of this’. […]
Tomorrow at the London Coliseum, the Docklands Sinfonia will perform Budd’s score for the 1925 Phantom of the Opera by Rupert Julian alongside a screening of the film. Budd, who was one of Britain’s most prolific film composers with credits including the seminal gangster movie Get Carter, starring Michael Caine, is regarded as a key influence on the jazz-tinged film theme songs of the 1970s. Mike Hodges, its director, is due to attend the premiere. Among more than 50 other films scored by Budd were Paper Tiger, Who Dares Wins and the 1971 version of Kidnapped. The composer, a self-taught jazz pianist regarded as a child prodigy who made his debut at the Coliseum aged six, had always loved the 1925 film and managed in 1990 to buy the last remaining original reel.
“He had fallen in love with the film when he was 11 years old,” said Mrs Budd, who added that buying the reel and working on the Phantom symphony was a “dream come true” for him. “When he was preparing for the premiere he was at the peak of his life, he was so happy.” […]
[Sylvia Budd] met Nick Hocart, an Australian impresario, who “became fascinated by the music” and began securing investment for it. Mrs Budd said that finally putting on the premiere was a fitting tribute to her husband. She said that the British Library was interested in securing her husband’s archive. “I like to think that his music is going to stay around for a long time,” she added.” (The Times, October 7 2017)
“A quarter of a century after Budd’s untimely death, his unheard masterpiece is finally to be revealed. Next Sunday, his spine-tingling symphonic score for the 1925 silent classic The Phantom of the Opera will receive its world premiere, performed by a 77-piece orchestra as the film is screened. Fittingly, the venue is the London Coliseum , home of the English National Opera and where Budd, a child prodigy pianist, gave his first professional performance in 1953 at the age of just six. ‘Roy was crazy about horror films and he fell in love with The Phantom of the Opera when he saw it,’ says Budd’s wife Sylvia. […] ‘When Roy had the opportunity to buy the original 35mm print in 1989, it was a dream come true,’ says Sylvia. No sooner had he acquired the print than he began writing music for it. ‘Roy worked in an unusual way,’ says Sylvia. ‘He would walk around London composing the music in his head. Only after three months of pounding the streets around Victoria Station and Buckingham Palace did he sit down to transfer the score to paper. It took him three weeks and he was in no doubt that it was his greatest work. […]
In the years since [his passing]Sylvia has battled to fulfil her promise to her dying husband. […] She has at long last been able to stage the piece in the way Budd originally envisioned. How will Sylvia feel when the work is finally performed? Her eyes fill with tears. ‘It is always moving for me to hear Roy’s music. Because of Roy’s music I feel as though he hasn’t completely gone.'” (Mail on Sunday, October 2 2017)
“Roy Budd lived life in the fast lane. A self-taught piano prodigy, he made his debut at the London Coliseum when he was just six. By the time he was 15 he was well-known on both radio and TV. By the age of 16 he was playing with his own jazz trio and sharing the bill with big stars like Dudley Moore and Tony Hatch. Although the rest of the band were all at least 10 years his senior, bassist Peter Morgan would later say ‘It was a marvellous challenge working with Roy… he was always pushing us to the limit.'”
(Best of British, October 2017)
“Long before Lloy Webber got his hands on it,
‘The Phantom of the Opera’ was a novel and silent film classic.
See the 1925 movie with a live orchestral performance
of composer Roy Budd’s ‘Lost’ score.”
(Time Out, October 2017)
On the 10th of October, following the success of the concert, BBC News broadcast a segment called “Roy Budd: A Musical Genius” featuring an interview with Sylvia Budd conducted by Wendy Hurrell. Interviews and reports about the Phantom of the Opera concert were also broadcast on The Jonathan Ross Show, LBC Radio with Chris Golds and London Live TV.
As well as five star reviews on Amazon, the release of Roy’s final score for silent film, Phantom of the Opera has been gathering press worldwide, a selection of reviews and profiles can be found below:
– Cinema Musica profiles Roy Budd
The German European film music magazine Cinema Musica recently did an 8 page profile on Roy Budd, exploring his life work and background to the release of The Phantom of the Opera score.
“The Phantom of the Opera is Roy Budd’s masterpiece, a brilliantly orchestrated, thematically rich score in the later Romantic style with which the composer reinvented himself…The theme for the relationship between [the Phantom and Carlotta], moving through all the music, is simultaneously inscrutable and beautiful, fragile and taut, like a variation on Wagner’s Tristan and Isolde.”
Stephan Eicke, 2014 (English translation)
“With exceptional orchestral refinement, and a sublimely gentle British restraint, as though it were a piece by Vaughan-Williams, Budd breathes life into the film with a flowing stream of dark Romantic, at times sumptuously lyrical, melodies….. Budd, jazz musician and musical autodidact, has succeeded with this music in creating a remarkable orchestral work, which is also convincing as an hour-long listening experience per se.”
Matthias Büdinger, 2014 (English translation)
– Film Score Monthly Review
The online magazine for film score and music fans Film Score Monthly reviewed The Phantom of the Opera (subscriber section).
An extract from the review below:
“Scored for a massive orchestra with organ and harpsichord, Budd’s work is amazing to behold. ‘Backstage at the Opera House’ opens the disc with a presentation of what will become a theme for the Phantom, played first on organ before a lush orchestral version takes center stage; this sweeping main theme is among Budd’s finest.”
Steven A Kennedy, 2014
– Rue Morgan reviews Phantom of the Opera
“Big and robust with many surprises, I doubt I’m alone in wishing Budd’s music will tour in a live format, offering fans the chance to see the film with a full orchestra when POTO turns 90 next year”
Mark R Hasan, Sept 2014
– KQEK review
“Emphasizing romance with a gorgeous main theme, Budd’s music benefits from a huge orchestra and superb engineering which showcase his gift for melody, but it’s arguably Budd’s knack for keeping an eye on pacing which makes his POTO score such a rewarding experience. On edited CD, the music flows naturally, twisting through the oft-repeated love theme and shades of the Phantom theme.
Budd’s score evolves into an increasingly perfect marriage of classical film scoring with modern touches with each viewing, and while it may be a rare occurrence to experience the score + film in a live setting, the DVD is the next best thing, offering a clean presentation of the score with a transfer of a film print originally purchased by Budd.”
– Movie Music International review
“Roy Budd’s PHANTOM OF THE OPERA score is a masterpiece of film scoring, the composer has created a work that is overflowing with rich and lush thematic material, sweeping string passages and growling brass flourishes adorn the score but it is also a soundtrack that contains a more delicate, intimate and romantic side…. This is a score that is simply a must have item, an essential purchase in fact it is something that all film music connoisseurs should have in their collection. Has it been worth the wait, YES IT HAS…”
John Mansell, August 2014. Full text on Movie Music International.
– The Second Disc Friday Feature review
“Budd imbued his Phantom with a melodically rich, classical sensibility…While beautifully adding a new dimension to the original silent picture, Budd’s atmospheric score also can be heard as an elegy for, and tribute to, a bygone style of symphonic music for the cinema.”
The Second Disc, August 2014. Full text on The Second Disc.
“At long last this magnificent Silent Film Score has been released and it really is a wonderful achievement by Roy Budd at every level of film scoring. It has everything a symphonic score should have…. action…suspense…mood and tragic music that adds to the aura of The Phantom . …. Budd proves particularly adept at utilising the full orchestral forces to all the films scenes….and is capable of some truly wonderful moments of musical understatement. This is without doubt THE film score release of 2014 ……”