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As composer-pianist Ludovic Bource prepares to perform The Artist live at the Royal Albert Hall later this month, we catch up with him to find out how he composed his incredible Oscar-winning score.
Composer: Ludovic Bource
Piece: The Artist
Date written: 2011
In a sentence or less, how would you describe the music to someone who's never heard it before?
The Artist is a film, a piece of cinema, in the style of the golden age: sometimes you can find some modern music or a contemporary touch, but for me the music is just a love letter to the golden age.
How did the idea for the piece come about?
I watched a sequence many times and then stopped for a few minutes, then played some melodies on my piano for a while, then started again. I generally came up with ideas for about three or four hours every morning. I'm not the only person who decided which pieces were the best for the movie: the director also had a hand in it.
Did you have a musical 'EUREKA!' moment where everything fell into place, or did the piece gradually shift and change over time?
It took a while, because each day the director shot the movie, and then I had to receive the shoots in little sequences, and I took some ideas from that.
Is there a musical moment in the piece you're most proud of?
I composed a track called My Suicide, dedicated to the director - it was very hard for me because he decided to use the love scene by Bernard Herrmann at the end of the movie, taken from the film Vertigo. The music for My Suicide is not in the film, but only on end of the CD. I was very honoured to pay tribute to Bernard Herrmann. For me he's the composer I love the most: I love many more composers, but for me at the end of this movie Bernard Herrmann shows the golden age, because he studied in the 40s like a film composer, and I paid tribute to him.
What's been your favourite performance of the music?
I don't know if I have a favourite performance - I think it will be the best for me with the London Symphony Orchestra at the Royal Albert Hall. It's a dream for me to see the music performed live with the film.
If you could hear anyone admit they're a huge fan of the piece, who would it be?
I'm a fan of many composers (too many - there are too many composers in my heart to choose one!) but fellow musicians are the most important fans I could have. It just gratifies me to have the musicians listen to my music - and play my music, because without them I am nothing. My only real judge can be musicians everywhere who share my music on stage.
If you had to compose it again, what would you change?
If I could change something it would be time. The Festival de Cannes was in May and the final cut of the movie could have been finished to present in cinemas in France, but the producer decided to finish it for May for the Festival. It was very hard for me, my team, the director Michel, everybody - we were always oppressed by the time. So if I could change something, now, and for the rest of my life, for each project I have, it would be the time. When you are a thinking person, if you have the time to think you can find the right notes and you can be fresh because you have time to immerse yourself in the project. We need time. The world's changed: now the internet is so fast, but my head's not as fast!
Where was the premiere and how did you feel hearing the piece for the first time?
It was at Cannes at the premiere. I was stressed by all the people, I was very stressed, the screen was small like the golden age, and the sound mix wasn't surround sound. I was scared because the Festival de Cannes is very, very big and there were so many people in the room. I wasn't full of confidence, and I was very scared at the premiere because they had some famous directors, actors, producers, distributors - all of them, famous! But at the end of the premiere it was really gratifying, not only for me, but for all the rest of the team.