Film music – differently: this could be the title of today’s concert, since all works included in the repertoire are in some way connected to the world of movies, whether by their character, their genesis or their composer. William Walton‘s Johannesburg Festival Overture was not written for a film, but its momentum and character make it easy to imagine it as a film score. William Walton is an English composer who was born in the early 1900s and lived through almost the twentieth century. He composed in many genres and styles, from film music to opera. He wrote this work in 1956 at the request of Ernst Fleischmann, the music director of the Johannesburg Festival, to mark the seventieth anniversary of the city’s foundation. Fleischmann had specifically requested that the work should include an African theme or motif, and Walton delivered it through the percussions’ part. He himself described this work as a non-stop, dynamic gallop that requires great attention and technical preparation from the orchestra.
Nino Rota probably needs no introduction to those who have seen the highly successful Godfather trilogy. The film’s catchy melodies also won an Academy Award. But many people may not know that Nino Rota left behind a large body of classical music, and that film music was only one part of his oeuvre. In 1972 he wrote his Cello Concerto No 1, which we will hear tonight. He composed it in a late Romantic style, which requires considerable technical skill from the soloist, and offers an equally prominent role for the orchestra. The cello solo will be played by Domonkos Hartmann, a student of Ditta Rohmann and Dóra Kokas at the Liszt Academy of Music in Budapest and István Várdai in Vienna. He was awarded the Junior Prima Prize in 2022.
Budafok Dohnányi Orchestra is known to be keen to play and promote works by contemporary Hungarian composers. It is in this spirit that BDO gives composers the opportunity to submit a new work every year. One of the works selected for this season is by Levente Kovács, a professionally scored and orchestrated Hollywood-style film music with all the appertaining features.
The concert will conclude with a work by a composer who is regularly featured at the Budafok Dohnányi Orchestra’s film music concerts. Erich Wolfgang Korngold, the ‘Viennese child prodigy’, whose musical talent was evident from an early age, soon attracted the attention of Hollywood. The Sea Hawk is a 1940 adventure film starring Errol Flynn the protagonist of which is an English pirate who tries to defend England’s interests against the Spanish Armada. Korngold was commissioned to compose a rather long piece of music, which ended up being perhaps his most complex film music, and therefore more of a symphonic work than a film score. This evening, the audience will hear a suite version of it.