Battle for Music Blu-ray
Battle for Music Blu-ray
Battle for Music Blu-ray

Battle for Music Blu-ray

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(2 Reviews)
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A Panamint Cinema high-definition restoration from original 35 mm film materials, exclusively available direct from Panamint Cinema.

Battle for Music (1943, b/w). The year is 1939. Following a meeting of creditors of the London Philharmonic Orchestra, the players form a new company and arrange bookings themselves. Struggling with costs after their first series of concerts, they meet the writer J. B. Priestley who arranges a "Musical Manifesto" fund-raiser at the Queen's Hall. Then their real break comes when band leader Jack Hylton books the orchestra for a season of music hall concerts. The orchestra plays music by Mozart, Tchaikovsky, Greig, Beethoven, Wagner and Rachmaninov. The film ends with Elgar’s “Pomp and Circumstance”.
Directed by Donald Taylor. Produced by Strand Film Company.

Musical Poster No 1 (1940, colour). An animated film in which colours and abstract shapes vibrate to music illustrating the message "Careful! The enemy is listening to you”.
Directed by Len Lye. Produced by Crown Film Unit.

Adeste Fideles (1941, b/w). The spirit of Christmas in war-time Britain. In the midst of war the British people celebrate Christmas with undiminished faith, despite bombings and evacuations. A stoical view of the British in adversity.
Directed by Ralph Keene & Ralph Bond. Produced by Strand Film Company.

C.E.M.A. (1942, b/w). R. A. Butler, M.P. explains the activities of the Council for the Encouragement of Music and the Arts. The film shows arts events, including music performances, around the country including seaports and mining towns.
Directed by John Banting, Dylan Thomas et al.
Produced by Strand Film Company.

Special Feature: Battle for Music: Unreleased Version.


Cast and Crew

DIRECTORS: Donald Taylor, Len Lye, Ralph Keene, Ralph Bond, John Banting, Dylan Thomas

ACTORS: Thomas Russell, Joss Ambler,  J.B. Priestley, Jack Hylton

PIANO SOLOISTS: Eileen Joyce, Benno Moiseiwitsch

CONDUCTORS: Malcolm Sargent, Sir Adrian Boult, Constant Lambert, Warwick Braithwaite


SPECIAL FEATURES: Musical Poster No 1 (1940, colour). "Be careful - the enemy is listening!"; Adeste Fideles (1941, b/w). Christians celebrate their faith during the Blitz; C.E.M.A. (1942, b/w). R. A. Butler, M.P. explains the activities of the Council for the Encouragement of Music and the Arts; Unreleased cut of Battle for Music, with unique footage; 16 page illustrated booklet

SUBTITLES: In English for the deaf and hard of hearing



FORMAT: Blu-ray All Regions | Aspect ratio 1.37:1 | b/w

ENCODING: Video: 1080p AVC MPEG4 | Audio: Dolby Digital Mono 2.0



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2 Reviews:

Battle for Music (Panamint Cinema)
27 October 2023  | 

Directed by Donald Taylor in 1943, Battle for Music is a clunky yet hugely engaging semi-documentary charting the wartime history of the London Philharmonic Orchestra. Facing liquidation through loss of financial support, the orchestra's players formed their own company and managed to keep the ensemble afloat, touring extensively across the UK. Author J B Priestley became the figurehead for a fundraising campaign, and bandleader Jack Hylton engaged the LPO to perform in variety theatres and music halls. The idea for the film originally came from the Ministry of Information, who unexpectedly withdrew their backing. The musicians' attempts to play themselves are unintentionally hilarious. Viola player Thomas Russell proves a hugely likeable Secretary for the orchestra, despite delivering his lines in comically deadpan style. Charles Gregory, the LPO's principal horn, is equally wooden.

But the musical performances captured are fascinating composer Constant Lambert's electrifying account of Tchaikovsky's Romeo and Juliet is a treat, and he also accompanies Benno Moisewitch in a generous, well-edited chunk of Rachmaninov. Adrian Boult conducts Elgar's Cockaigne. Malcolm Sargent's plodding conversation with Russell about the need to interest children in classical music still has relevance, though the message is undercut by shots of a youthful audience looking slightly bored by a languid reading of Delius's La Calinda. The montage sequences showing speeding trains accompanied by Eileen Joyce must have been an inspiration for David Lean's Brief Encounter. The booklet notes are worth perusing, particularly for their narration of Boult's shabby role in removing the left-wing Russell from his position as Chairman. Readers of a certain age will be interested to discover that Russell subsequently became the MD of Colletts bookshop on Charing Cross Road. Image and sound quality are excellent, and the extras are generous, particularly a delightful animated Musical Poster and a short propaganda film about the work of the wartime Council for the Encouragement of Music and the Arts.


Musical magic
01 December 2021  | 

A fascinating piece of British WW2 propaganda illustrating how the London Philharmonic Orchestra re-invented itself to survive the war.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful.
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