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Page last updated at 12:40 GMT, Tuesday, 10 August 2010 13:40 UK
Lost silent film scores rediscovered by university
Musical score
Finding the lost scores was an extremely laborious process

Dr Julie Brown from the Royal Holloway University of London in Egham has discovered previously hidden musical scores for silent films.

The researcher found the music, which has been hidden for decades, in attics and archives across the country.

Even major libraries and archives didn't know the scores were in their possession before she contacted them.

Dr Brown has now been awarded a £145,000 British Academy grant to explore silent film musical techniques.

Prior to her research, only one surviving full film score was known about.

She said "Finding these scores was an extremely laborious process, searching through archive listings, often under obscure headings, and following up hunches by contacting surviving relatives directly."

"Two important scores turned up in private collections. One is for a film of the 1922 Royal Geographical Society expedition to Mount Everest filmed by Captain John Noel."

One of the items, a finished score by a British composer, turned up in someone's attic, and the owner had no idea it was there!

Patrick Laurence, the grandson of the composer Frederick Laurence, was contacted by Dr Brown in the course of her research on Frederick's collaboration with composer Eugene Goossens Senior, the head of a family of famous British musicians

"I asked him whether he had any surviving scores, diaries or letters. At first he had very little. However, two months later he emailed me back saying, 'I have just found some more of Fred Laurence's scores in my loft!'"

Usually, these scores are compiled from lots of little excerpts of pre-existing music, possibly with some specially composed transition passages.
Dr Julie Brown

"He'd found one of the scores I'd initially asked about, which was particularly exciting since it is the only surviving silent film score I know of by a British composer that is specially composed, beginning to end."

Dr Brown hopes to show a performance of the score at the British Silent Film Festival next April, and eventually, a reconstruction of the 'compiled' score for the original screenings of Captain John Noel's 1924 film Epic of Everest, the expedition on which Mallory and Irvine tragically died.



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