The Composers Of Doctor Who: Stanley Myers

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Chris Morley looks at the work of one-time Doctor Who composer Stanley Myers.

Another for the one-shot pile in our cabal of Doctor Who composers as we take a look at the man who supplied the music for The Reign Of Terror.

Stanley Myers would become known as a prolific man of music for both film & television. Among his early post-Who successes were scores for Kaleidoscope (1966) and Ulysses (1967), and he's also the man responsible for the Question Time theme on the small screen...

... He also composed music for several cult horror films, including House of Whipcord, Frightmare, and House of Mortal Sin. During the 1980s, Myers worked frequently with director Stephen Frears. His score for Prick Up Your Ears (1987) won him a "Best Artistic Contribution" award at the Cannes Film Festival. He also scored the film Wish You Were Here and several low budget features (Time Traveler, Blind Date, The Wind, Zero Boys) for director Nico Mastorakis, collaborating with Hans Zimmer.

Myers won an Ivor Novello Award for his soundtrack to The Witches in 1991. It wasn't his first, that came from perhaps his best known work. The 1970 guitar piece Cavatina as used in The Deer Hunter...

Having originally been penned by classical guitarist John Williams as a piano instrumental, Myers, at Williams invitation, had his way with it & took it into the Top Twenty following the release of the film that popularised it.

Director Nicolas Roeg wrote in a 1993 obituary for the Independent that,
"Stanley Myers loved the movies. He must have composed the score for more than 100 films, both for features and television. He did seven for me, including Heart of Darkness which he finished only a month ago.

So many film composers prefer to keep their involvement separate from the film-maker, happy of course to enhance the film, but also rather pleased to have the music-stand on its own in case of a record deal. Myers just wanted to make himself and his music part of the movie."
His working method was remarkably hands on, too!
"He would phone me and say, 'Nick, I just want you to come over and listen to something.' I would go over to his flat in Beaufort Street: he'd say, 'The gin is in the kitchen, I'll just put the tape on.'

He would then sit at the piano and play to the scenes as they ran silently on the television. Stumbling through odd sections, starting over again, sometimes suddenly laughing and saying, 'Oh Lord, that's not right, is it?', but always thinking only of the film and how his music would help it live and grow."
A lack of musical knowledge on the part of the director was no problem, either.
"He was extremely generous to people like myself who had no formal musical training. He would genuinely try and find musical phrases from totally untechnical examples of help, such as, 'You know that piece, Stanley, I think it was Greig or was it Bach? It goes, da da di da da . . ."
A slap in the face for those who appear to think that his Reign Of Terror score is simply made up of arrangements of the French national anthem La Marseillaise at different speeds!

Even if it is in there somewhere surely it has every right to be? Written in 1792, it was intended as a revolutionary song - a spirit which runs through both of the First Doctor's sojourns the other side of the Channel. (See also The Massacre).
Arise, children of the Fatherland
The day of glory has arrived!
Against us tyranny's
Bloody banner is raised, (repeat)
Do you hear, in the countryside,
The roar of those ferocious soldiers?
They're coming right into your arms
To cut the throats of your sons, your women!

To arms, citizens,
Form your battalions,
Let's march, let's march!
Let an impure blood
Soak our fields!

What does this horde of slaves,
Of traitors and conspiratorial kings want?
For whom are these vile chains,
These long-prepared irons? (repeat)
Frenchmen, for us, ah! What outrage
What fury it must arouse!
It is us they dare plan
To return to the old slavery!

To arms, citizens...

What! Foreign cohorts
Would make the law in our homes!
What! These mercenary phalanxes
Would strike down our proud warriors! (repeat)
Great God! By chained hands
Our brows would yield under the yoke
Vile despots would have themselves
The masters of our destinies!

To arms, citizens...
As the official site of the Elysee Palace tells us of the anthem's history,
"In 1792, following the declaration of war the King to Austria, a French officer stationed in Strasbourg, Rouget de Lisle composed, on the night of April 25 to 26, in Dietrich, the mayor of the city, "battle Hymn of the army of the Rhine."

This song is taken by the Federated Marseille participating in the Tuileries insurrection on August 10, 1792. Its success is as declared national song July 14, 1795.

Prohibited under the Empire and the Restoration, La Marseillaise was to the fore during the 1830 revolution and Berlioz in developing an orchestration he dedicated to Rouget de Lisle.

The Third Republic (1879) makes a national anthem and in 1887 an "official version" was adopted by the Ministry of War after notice of a commission. It is also under the Third Republic, 14 July 1915 the ashes of Rouget de Lisle were transferred to Les Invalides.

In September 1944, a circular from the Ministry of Education recommends to sing the Marseillaise in schools to "celebrate our liberation and our martyrs."
In perhaps the ultimate insult the anthem was quoted by Beethoven in his Wellington's Victory, a commemoration of a triumph over the French at the Battle of Vitoria. The Doctor himself would be present at Waterloo following a first regeneration, while the man he appeared to have taken hairstyle tips from would later liberally pinch the opening bars of the Marseillaise for All You Need Is Love, part of the Our World broadcast of 1967,

Vive le France!

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