Composer Carl Davis on Creating a Theme

For over fifty years, the brilliant composer and conductor Carl Davis has been enriching cinema with his evocative film scores. Although well-known for his silent movie work—he's created orchestrations for the re-releases of films like Harold Lloyd’s Speedy and Charlie Chaplin’s City Lights—Davis has also brought his talents to modern masterpieces such as Karel Reisz’s romantic 1981 drama The French Lieutenant’s Woman. The revered composer turns seventy-nine today, and to commemorate his birthday, we’re pleased to share one of our favorite moments from an interview conducted with Davis, for our recent release of Reisz’s film, in which he recounts, and demonstrates, part of his composing process.

Davis begins by explaining his attempt, on behalf of producer Leon Clore, to convince Reisz to replace Arnold Schoenberg’s string sextet “Transfigured Night,” which Reisz had wanted for the score, with original music. Davis presented Reisz with a sample theme in the style of Schoenberg, to illustrate that a new piece of music could work in its place. Ultimately, Davis explains, he and Reisz collaborated to reach the final, much-evolved version of the film’s beautiful and haunting theme music, entitled “Sarah’s Theme.”

You have no items in your shopping cart