Davis Napoleon

In pace with Kevin Brownlow's efforts to restore Napoleon to something close to its 1927 incarnation, two scores were prepared in 1979–1980; one by Carl Davis in the UK and one by Carmine Coppola in the US.

Beginning in late 1979, Carmine Coppola composed a score incorporating themes taken from various sources such as Ludwig van Beethoven, Hector Berlioz, BedÅ™ich Smetana, Felix Mendelssohn and George Frideric Handel. He composed three original themes: an heroic one for Napoleon, a love theme for scenes with Josephine, and a Buonaparte family theme. He also used French revolutionary songs that were supplied by Davis in early 1980 during a London meeting between Coppola, Davis and Brownlow. Two such songs were "Ah! ça ira" and "La Carmagnole". Coppola returns to "La Marseillaise" as the finale. Coppola's score was heard first in New York at Radio City Music Hall performed for very nearly four hours, accompanying a film projected at 24 frames per second as suggested by producer Robert A. Harris. Coppola included some sections of music carried solely by an organist so that the 60-piece orchestra could take a break.

Working quickly from September 1980, Davis arranged a score based on selections of classical music; especially the Eroica Symphony by Beethoven who had initially admired Napoleon as a liberator, and had dedicated the symphony to Napoleon. Taking this as an opportunity to research the music Napoleon would have heard, Davis also used folk music from Corsica, French revolutionary songs, a tune from Napoleon's favorite opera (Nina by Giovanni Paisiello) and pieces by other classical composers who were active in France in the 18th century. Davis uses "La Marseillaise" as a recurring theme and returns to it during Napoleon's vision of ghostly patriots at the National Assembly. In scoring the film, Davis was assisted by David Gill and Liz Sutherland; the three had just completed the Thames Television silent film documentary Hollywood. To accompany a screening of 4 hours 50 minutes shown at 20 frames per second during the 24th London Film Festival, Davis conducted the Wren Orchestra. Following this, work continued on restoration of the film with the goal of finding more footage to make a more complete version. In 2000, Davis lengthened his score and a new version of the movie was shown in London, projected at 20 frames per second for 5 hours 32 minutes. The 2000 score was performed in London in 2004 and in Oakland, California, in 2012, with Davis conducting the orchestra.

Source: Wikipedia

  • Napoleon (sample)

Forthcoming Concerts featuring Davis