Composer rage: Michael Nyman hates The Piano with live orchestra

The Barbican is screening Jane Campion’s film with live accompaniment from the London Contemporary Orchestra.

The composer is unhappy:

It was not my choice to present the soundtrack to ‘The Piano’ in this way.

The performance was arranged without my knowledge or approval by people who are paid supposedly to ‘look after my interests’.

Day 2. In fact I think it is a thoroughly bad idea to show ‘The Piano’ with a live score, with THIS live score. Pointless Celebrities!


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  • What an idiot. Besides, his music is publicly available for performance, no approval necessary… The drawback of having his work published in exchange for cash! Oh the irony.

  • His greater source of anger should be that Jane Campion’s The Piano is being shown publicly at all. Not that it will/should matter to anyone, but I despised that movie and was angry I had to sit through it. Had I been alone and not with friends, I would have walked out.

  • He certainly appears to be easily aggrieved – seems like he’s forever sounding off about something. I don’t think he ever forgave that film for not winning him an Oscar. Worse, his soundtrack wasn’t even nominated. Boo hoo indeed.

  • The only strong memory I have of the movie is that the music was unmemorable.

    And what’s with this business of having our symphony orchestras play the soundtrack during screenings of movies? This has become a epidemic (and has to be pretty boring for the players). Every American orchestra in the Midwest from the Chicago Symphony to the Des Moines Symphony seems to be doing this. If I want to watch a movie, I Netflix it at home.

    When I go to the effort of buying a ticket and driving to a concert hall, I WANT TO HEAR A CONCERT!

  • It was one if the most excruciating, infuriating movies I’ve ever endured. The insipid score, which so many people so pitifully fawned over, only added insult to the injury. That said, these live score accompaniments to sound (not silent) films are an awful idea. They detract from the movie while simultaneously doing nothing to properly highlight the scores. I’m all in favor of more concert performances of film music but not this way. Silent movies, however, can be magnificent with live music.

  • I have heard that Mr Nyman is very protective of his music. A horn group that wanted to record an arrangement of his music had to submit the sheet music and a demo recording for approval first.

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