Brighton: symphony of a city

Hughes, Ed (2016) Brighton: symphony of a city. [Composition]

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This is the score of an original composition for symphony orchestra, to be performed simultaneously with the screening of a contemporary silent film.

Brighton: Symphony of a City was conceived in collaboration with the film maker Lizzie Thynne. The project was inspired by the city symphony films of the 1920s and 1930s. Through a silent film with live music the aim was a visual and musical portrait of the city of Brighton. It was commissioned for the 50th anniversary of the Brighton Festival and premiered in the Brighton Dome with the Orchestra of Sound and Light, conducted by the composer, on 11 May 2016. The film creates a dynamic portrait of Brighton today, and in its dawn to dusk and then night approach consciously references Walter Ruttmann’s great rhythmic and poetic film ‘Berlin: Symphony of a Great City’ (1927). The music conveys colour and contrasts, echoing those of the modern urban environment, but constantly aware of seascape. As writer and musicologist Mervyn Cooke observes, gently pulsating cross rhythms and subtle dislocations of the metre, combined with long-breathed dynamic ebbs and flows and vividly contrasting orchestral colours, wonderfully capture not only the broad sweep of the city itself, but also (as with Vigo’s Nice) the alluring expanse of the open sea beyond its shore.

Unlike Ruttmann’s film, Thynne also draws on archival silent moving images from Screen Archive South East, creating unexpected, informative and poignant juxtapositions. Towards the close of the film the images employ montage and the music and picture seem to fuse into a state of symphony as their separate languages merge.

Item Type: Composition
Keywords: Film music, Silent film
Schools and Departments: School of Media, Film and Music > Music
Subjects: M Music. Literature on music. Musical instruction and study > M Music > M0005 Instrumental music > M0176 Motion picture music
M Music. Literature on music. Musical instruction and study > M Music > M0005 Instrumental music > M1000 Orchestra
Depositing User: Ed Hughes
Date Deposited: 05 Sep 2016 09:46
Last Modified: 05 Sep 2016 09:46

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Project NameSussex Project NumberFunderFunder Ref
Brighton: Symphony of a CityG1881Brighton Dome And Brighton FestivalUnset