A couple of years ago, my wife was involved in creating a new orchestral score for the archive war footage of the Battle of the Somme.
The film shows footage from the First World War, and when it was released in 1916 almost half the population watched it. It’s an amazing, important film.
For part of her research we went to visit the Somme battlefields. I was chauffeur and chief map reader. Just before we went, Laura’s aunt mentioned that her Great-Uncle was at the Somme and she had his diaries from that time.Â It turned out he was positioned exactly where we were staying on the Somme. He was a stretcher-bearer and attended the 29th division (they appear in the film) on July 1st 1916, so it’s possible he could even be in the film. Here’s an extract from his diary that dates from the first day of the Battle.
There’s much more info about Laura’s research for the project and the music written for the film at Laura’s site as well as both diaries scanned and transcribed in full: http://www.laurarossi.com/battle-of-the-somme/
Being married to a film-composer means that I get to experience part of the research that Laura does for each project. I’ll never forget the experience of visiting the Thiepval Memorial, retracing Fred’s steps from the places he mentions in the diary, and the bizarre experience of putting my hand into one of the battlefields and just pulling out bullets. You can’t help but be moved by being there.
Here, also, is the score she created. It was recorded by the Philharmonia Orchestra and mixed at Abbey Road. I remember the recording session well as our first child was just born and in between takes Laura was dashing back to feed her and I was pacing round figuring out how to look after a baby :)