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A long-lost orchestral Phantom to be heard again

15 March, 2019 — By Michael White

Scene from the silent film starring Lon Chaney

Think Phantom of the Opera and you think Andrew Lloyd Webber. It’s inevitable. But there’s another musician who put his hand to this story, and it’s Roy Budd, the jazz composer who also wrote soundtrack scores for films like Get Carter and Paper Tiger.

Back in 1993 Budd completed a score to accompany the classic 1920s silent film of Phantom starring Lon Chaney. And unlike his music for Get Carter, which was famously recorded on a budget of £450 with just a handful of instruments, the Phantom score spared no expense and used a full-sized orchestra.

But it was never heard – because a few days before the intended premiere Budd collapsed and died, leaving the score to be filed away in a drawer.

Two years ago, though, it was pulled out and performed at the London Coliseum. And next Sunday it gets a second airing at the Barbican – accompanying a screening of the film and played by the Docklands Sinfonia.

Whether you’re a jazz or film fan, it’s a go-to event. But you’ll need to get Lloyd Webber’s tunes out of your head. And you’ll need to be brave: Lon Chaney is terrifying.

• Roy Budd’s Phantom of the Opera, Monday March 18, Barbican Hall, Barbican, Silk Street, EC2Y 8DS. 020 7638 8891, www.barbican.org.uk, 7.30pm, £29-£39

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