Composer-producer William Perry has played a major role in the revival of interest in silent films, both through his more than one hundred silent film scores and through his Emmy Award-winning television series, The Silent Years, hosted by Orson Welles and Lillian Gish. A rich array of Perry’s film music was presented in the critically acclaimed Naxos recording, Music for Great Films of the Silent Era.
Now this companion volume offers a further view of Perry’s colourful and exuberant writing, including his new Silent Film Heroines song-suite for mezzo-soprano and orchestra, celebrating eight of the legendary actresses of the silent cinema. Perry’s supremely melodic sense of period and style captures perfectly the romance, grandeur and humour of those entertaining days when “Movies were movies!”
William Perry has been associated with film and stage, both as a composer and as a producer, through much of his creative life. His six definitive films based on the major works of Mark Twain won the prestigious George Foster Peabody Award. His Broadway musical, Wind in the Willows, for which he wrote the music and co-authored the lyrics, was nominated for three Tony Awards. There is an Emmy Award among the many other awards for his more than seventy programs produced for American Public Television.
It is likely, however, that no achievement is more lasting or important than the contributions William Perry has made to the remarkable resurgence of interest in the great films of the silent era. For twelve years as Music Director of the Film Department at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, he provided virtuosic piano accompaniments to the showings of silent films at the Museum and other major film centers, and he composed more than one hundred scores for the Museum’s collection. His television series, The Silent Years, hosted by Orson Welles and Lillian Gish, brought many of these scores to audiences throughout the world who were experiencing the beauty and excitement of classic silent films for the first time.
Now another generation can participate in the silent film renaissance through acquaintance with Perry’s scores in the full symphonic treatments offered on this recording. The Gemini Concerto: An Entertainment for Violin, Piano and Orchestra, composed for and performed here by the Albek Duo of Switzerland, draws on music from seven classic silent films. The Silent Years: Three Rhapsodies for Piano and Orchestra offer three of Perry’s best-known scores in piano concerto form: The Beloved Rogue, Blood and Sand and The Gold Rush. And in Six Title Themes in Search of a Movie, Perry provides a whimsical overview of a cinema composer’s quest for ever more films in need of his music.