Thursday, 24 February 2011

Paul Lewis: Inauguration for Orchestra

Paul Lewis’ Inauguration for orchestra is an excellent piece of British ‘ceremonial music that is tuneful, effective and utilitarian –all at the same time. In fact, it many ways it is similar to Sir Arthur Bliss’ Welcome to the Queen film music. Both pieces celebrate important Royal events. Bliss wrote his music to celebrate the return of the Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth from a Commonwealth Tour in 1954: Lewis’ music was composed to accompany a Pathé news reel of Prince Charles’ Investiture at Caernarvon as the Prince of Wales.
Lewis was a regular contributor to the music libraries of both Pathé and Movietone. In fact the composer told me that they ‘used to gobble up my orchestral mood music library pieces: they were insatiable, putting out two newsreels a week with end-to-end music, and carried on like this until about 1974.’
Inauguration was one many pieces that Lewis ‘aimed’ at them, and, no doubt because of its title as much as its musical content, it was used on the Pathé film of Prince Charles riding in an open car through the streets of Caernarvon amidst cheering crowds after his investiture as Prince of Wales.

The music, which was composed in 1968, is a bit more restrained than many similar pieces, although the open fanfares certainly get the music of to a striking and noble start. I guess it is the ‘easy going’ trio theme that most impressed me here. There is something of a summer’s day about it that goes beyond the occasion. However the march theme and fanfares return in all their glory to celebrate the importance of the event.

Paul Lewis told me that he was re-acquainted with the newsreel in 1990 when HTV made a half-hour documentary about him in their Music Writers on TV series. They took him to the Pathé archives at Pinewood to view a stack of cans of film they'd unearthed whic had used his music.
He concluded by telling a humorous anecdote about that visit. He said, ‘When I arrived at Pinewood I was greeted with ‘You're so young - we thought all our composers were in wheelchairs by now!’ They obviously didn't realize they'd been using Paul Lewis’ music since he was twenty – which was in 1963!

I am still searching on the Pathé website to find the newsreel featuring Paul Lewis. If I find it I will report back. Meanwhile Inauguration can be heard on British Light Music Discoveries Volume 5

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