The Hollywood star who wrote his own film scores

The Hollywood star who wrote his own film scores


norman lebrecht

August 10, 2015

Couldn’t happen now, or could it?

Imagine a cultural paradise where, on one street, two great composers painted each others’ portraits in the afternoon and an actor wrote full-length scores for his own films. This was Hollywood in the mid-1930s, where George Gershwin and Arnold Schoenberg would take time out from their easels to meet Charlie Chaplin as near-equals on the tennis court.

From my Album of the Week on Click here to read the full review.

chaplin violin

(In the end, he gets the girl.)


  • Jeffrey Biegel says:

    Love the review–will find the recording. I often wonder what else Charlie Chaplin might have composed. Were there unfinished scores in his home or archives? (Anything—anything for piano and orchestra?) Do you think he was also inspired by Darius Milhaud a bit?

  • Emmanuel says:

    It probably does happen now. One could simply ask Clint Eastwood, who writes the music for most of his films, about the artistic company he’s keeping…

  • Hank says:

    Anthony Hopkins could write his own film score. In fact he did, for August.

  • Ross Amico says:

    Lionel Barrymore was a composer, too. I’ve never heard a note of his music, but he was good enough to have something performed by the Philadelphia Orchestra. As for “Modern Times,” if I’m not mistaken, David Raksin did a lot of the heavy-lifting in “polishing” Chaplin’s ideas.