The Battle of the Somme Centenary Tour

The Somme100FILM project marked the centenary of the Somme battle by organising 100 international screenings of the original 1916 film with Laura Rossi’s score. It was performed live by amateur, youth & professional orchestras from July 2016 – 2017

You can read about the Somme100FILM project and the Sounding The Somme education project on the website www.somme100film.com. You can also browse the performance archive where you can watch, read & listen to experiences from performers, organisers, audience members and the Somme100FILM team. If you were involved, we’d love to share your experiences too – contact us here.

Live screenings are planned for future dates, and the film, orchestral score and eduaction resources are available for future events. See here for details

Scoring the Somme – by Laura Rossi

The Imperial War Museum commissioned me to score the Battle of the Somme for the 90th anniversary in 2006. It was a very exciting prospect to write the music for such an important film – half the British population watched it when it came out in 1916 and there’s some amazing footage. The music was recorded and performed live with film by the Philharmonia orchestra for the premier at the Queen Elizabeth Hall and received a 5 star review in the Times.

somme page pic1It was very challenging writing music for this film as there are some very contrasting scenes juxtaposed. The example above shows this, as we see happy Soldiers receiving mail, then it suddenly cuts to dead bodies in a crater. So the music was needed to link these contrasting images, help make them flow and enhance the loose structure of the film. At same time I wanted the music to reflect the appropriate emotion for the image, so I have written a happy marching theme to match the spirit of soldiers marching off to war, but in sensitive scenes of the dead and wounded I often wrote something more simple, to not overpower the images and give the viewer space to think.

9. fred and laura copyDuring my research I discovered that my Great Uncle (whom I knew – he survived the war) was a stretcher bearer, attached to the 29th Division on July 1st 1916 (who appear in the film) so it’s possible he could even be in the film. I went over to the Somme Battlefields and, using his diary, retraced his footsteps. It was an incredibly moving trip. I was particularly interested in the soldiers’ point of view and doing all this research helped me to write the music from this angle.

Finding out all about Fred and his diaries has been very important to me, so I wanted to transcribe them for others to read and also put up his pictures and letters, as finding out about someone who was actually in the battle really helps brings it all to life.

On the left are links related to the Battle of the Somme project including information about the film and music.