The Battle of the Somme

Title: The Battle of the Somme (silent movie score)
Composer: Greg Smith
Instrumentation: Piano
Product medium: Full score (PDF download) – 80 pages
    Related products:
    – The Battle of the Somme (MP3)

In 1916 France was struggling to fend off German occupation.  It had become apparent that to break the stalemate Britain may need to increase its involvement in battle.  Plans were made in late 1915 by French commander Joseph Joffre for coordinated offensives on all fronts.  On the western front, Joffre planned to attack Picardy near the Somme River, which marked the boundary between the French and British forces.  However, by July 1916, the French forces had weakened and the Somme offensive became a primarily British battle.

The initial attack was made on 1 July 1916 at 7.30am.  100,000 men from British forces went into battle on that day.19,240 British troops died that day.  The battle would continue for a one hundred and forty-one days.

Geoffrey Malins and John McDowell, British army cinematographers, filmed footage of the preparations and Battle of the Somme.  The live footage was recorded between 26 June and 8 July 1916.  Some shorted staged sequences were staged in  later July.

The footage was first shown in London on 10 August 1916 at the Scala Theatre and was publicly released 21 August.

This original score was created for a live Remembrance Day Observance presented by the Teachers Sub-Branch of the RSL and Australia’s Silent Film Festival on 12 November 2012.





Featured Content

Schiff on Schumann
"I know of no work by Schumann that is not wonderful and inspiring.  One must leave every note just as he wrote it and experiment in order to find the correct balance and equilibrium.  With Schumann there is always this burning inventiveness, this unbelievable inspiration." – András Schiff.  Cited in Julian Haylock ""The Music of […]
Bernstein on composing
“There is something very satisfying about composing…you are letting yourself go, you write in a kind of trance, feeling you are doing very well. The next day you are quite capable of seeing that it wasn’t all that good, but that doesn’t matter so much.” Leonard Bernstein, 1971 Cited at: Leonard Bernstein (@LennyBernstein) “There’s something […]
Tchaikovsky and the village children
Tchaikovsky lived in a village Maidanovo.  When Tchaikovsky would go for works, he would also be hailed by groups of village children.  As Sofya Nikolayevna recalled: “They had discovered the times he went out and, as he always liked to gave them something, sweets or a coin, they used to lie in wait for him.” […]
The musician’s role: maintain our trust in the world
“I feel that tolerance, love and social harmony can and should be the by-products of an artist’s way of life and creation.  I would like to believe that beauty and truth, two great disciplines, when combined as they are in music, where order is based on self-restraint and a better understanding of repose, will lead […]
Accessibility for kids
Benjamin Britten wrote the score to Instruments of the Orchestra, which would become the concert work, Young Persons Guide to the Orchestra. The theme to the score was based on a hornpipe from Purcell’s Abdelzer. Britten commented to the producer, Basil Wright, that “I was never really worried that it was too sophisticated for kids […]
The effects of Brahms’ music
James Huneker, a critic with the New York Courier, wrote about the impact of Brahms’ music on him: Brahms dreams of pure white staircases that scale the infinite. A dazzling, dry light floods his mind, and you hear the rustling of wings – wings of great terrifying monsters; hippogrifs of horrid mien; hieroglyphic faces, faces […]
Each day, according to Goethe
Every day one should at least hear one little song, read one good poem, see one fine painting and–if at all possible–speak a few sensible words. — Johann Wolfgang von Goethe Goethe, Johann (translated by Frederick Ungar & Heinz Goethe, Johann W., Frederick Ungar, and Heinz Norden). Goethe’s world view : presented in his reflections […]
Composition services
A lock of Beethoven’s hair
Once a devoted admirer, wife of a Vienna pianist, longed for a lock of the composer’s outrageously unkempt hair, and asked a friend to get her one. At his suggestion, Beethoven, who was a practical joker of boorish capabilities, sent her a tuft from the chin of a goat. The trick was discovered, and the […]
The soul and speech
“There is no real teacher who in practice does not believe in the existence of the soul, or in a magic that acts on it through speech.” Allan Bloom (1987) The closing of the American mind: How higher education has failed democracy and impoverished the souls of today’s students.  New York: Simon Simon and Schuster, […]