Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
Music from THE SILENT YEARS!
Stuart M. Paine | Arlington, VA USA | 07/17/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"William Perry's wonderful music from THE SILENT YEARS (films from the Paul Killiam collection) charmed me instantly when the series ran on PBS back in 1971. At the time I was fiendishly practicing my classical guitar morning, noon and night and almost nothing could entice me to set the thing down, but the first few notes of the series theme, "Georgia" from the Chaplin film THE GOLD RUSH, did it every time. I looked forward to the films just to hear the wonderful musical scores. Knowing the main themes of LIMELIGHT and MODERN TIMES to be Chaplin's own, I thought for years that Chaplin himself had composed the GOLD RUSH (and series) theme and even at one time ventured to the Library of Congress Music Reading Room to implore the folks there to help me find it. Unsuccessful there (one of the few times I ever was), I did my own arrangement by ear and toyed with it for a few years for fun.
This music is everything one could wish silent film music to be. It's unabashedly romantic, bold and dramatic, warm, engaging and tuneful. It doesn't sound at all dated and has not a hint of the cliche Keystone Cop sound. My favorites are the suites from the THE GOLD RUSH, Barrymore's THE BELOVED ROGUE (a great, great historical romantic adventure film, incidentally) and Valentino's BLOOD AND SAND. Two of the ROGUE themes - the one introduced after Villon's (Barrymore's) father is burned at the stake, which represents the father's spirit, and the love theme - regularly move me literally to tears. Perry is an agile and sensitive pianist and a remarkable composer. He's a brilliant melodist and his feel for dramatic construction is so strong that one is simply swept along breathless. I'm reminded of Schubert's "Wanderer Fantasy" and the characteristic pieces of Albeniz, "Suite Espanola" in particular.
I'm not certain that I saw every one of the dozen or so films in the series (I think I missed INTOLERANCE), but I remember quite well that of all the films I saw, only one, SALLY OF THE SAWDUST, an early W.C. Fields film, had an organ score rather than piano. So, there's at least the possibility that a few more Perry piano score suites could see a CD release someday. Here's hoping for SON OF THE SHEIK and BROKEN BLOSSOMS!!!!
PS (added 2/01/10): For those who might wish to have even more of Mr. Perry's silent film music, I have found these four films available with his scores: THE BELOVED ROGUE; IT (w/ Clara Bow); DOWN TO THE SEA IN SHIPS; and TUMBLEWEEDS. I have not found others, but if someone visiting this site should know of any more, I would greatly appreciate hearing about them."