I might never have found it otherwise.”, Several factors influenced Nyman’s new approach when he started writing the score for The Piano. Campion: “The music Michael wrote for The Draughtsman’s Contract had such clarity, voice and vision that I knew he was the person I needed. The film score, with Michael Nyman playing the piano, sold three million copies. In 1991, after the release of the soundtrack to Prospero’s Books, the fifth full length movie collaboration with director Peter Greenaway, Michael Nyman needed a little break from film scoring. I was composing a composer”. So started the seed to what became the soundtrack to the film The Piano, one of the most romantic soundtracks in modern cinema, a sharp turn from Nyman’s signature style that accompanied Peter Greenaway films. After a few large productions in the 90s including Gattaca and The End of the Affair, he continues to write music for the motion pictures, mostly documentaries and small-budget films. All my subsequent soundtracks have been informed by the lyricism the film opened up in me. A rare moment in the history of Oscar acceptance speeches by leading actresses took place when Hunter thanked Nyman for the music he gave her. Nyman started his education at the Sir George Monoux Grammar School in Walthamstow and he later graduated to King’s College London, where he studied music under the famous British Composer and Musicologist, Alan Bush. Michael Nyman met Peter Greenaway in 1961 and over the next two decades they collaborated on and off on short films and documentaries. They shared an interest in counting and variations within categories, an obsession that would find its way into Greenaway’s films in the 80s. The score Nyman wrote for Greenaway’s films spiked Jane Campion’s ear when she was looking for the critical element of music for her film The Piano. Nyman’s popularity soared in 1993 when he wrote the score to Jane Campion’s multiple Academy Award Winning Movie, “The Piano”. Despite his career as a music critic, Nyman never shied away from composing music himself. Nyman: “The role of the piano in Ada’s life is not that she has an exterior repertoire that she can draw on, but that the music comes from inside. The crown jewel of the music score is The Heart Asks Pleasure First, based on that old folk Scottish melody. He often collaborated with Peter Greenaway for his films. For a male composer with a history of minimalist writing at the end of the 20th century, finding that voice didn’t come easily.” But Nyman found that voice, and The Piano became a milestone in his career: “I was brought up in the minimalist school, thinking you don’t wear your heart on your sleeve. Nyman also wrote a few scores for Hollywood, these included the score for the well received science fiction movie “Gattaca”, the score for Antonio Bird’s horror epic “Ravenous”, and the score for Neil Jordan’s “The End of the Affair”. But I thought it would be much more potent if you could see the real relationship between Ada and her piano.” Nyman corresponded with Hunter to ensure that she can perform the music he writes: “Holly sent me some music that she played. She sailed through the first things so I made them more difficult”. Nyman named the melody after a short poem, number 536 in Emily Dickinson’s Complete Poems – ‘The Heart asks Pleasure – first’. There’s more melody in my music than any other minimalist.”, The Draughtsman’s Contract, a murder mystery set in rural england at the end of the 17th century, found Nyman using themes written by Henry Purcell as source material.
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