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On completing the score of 'The Rainbow Boys', the director Gerry Potterton asked Howard if he would write both songs and score for an animated film of Oscar Wilde's 'The Happy Prince'. Howard was delighted and began work, completing a 'swallow theme' and a song for the bird flying sadly back to Egypt, called 'Flying through the Air'. When Howard rang from England to say he had completed them he was devastated to hear that they had given the work to another composer, Ron Goodwin. Howard rang Ron who said: 'Tough mate, that's the business.' The songs were discarded for 8 years until in 1981 Potterton visited London and introduced Howard to producer John Coates, who showed him a 9-minute animatic of 'The Snowman'. Howard suggested using 'Flying in the Air' and making a film without dialogue. He wrote a new lyric called 'Walking in the Air' and recorded it as well as the entire score, which was based around it.
The swallow theme emerged eventually as a movement called 'Swallows' for 'Six Romantic Pieces for clarinet and piano' (op.563), sketched in 1990 for Thea King, but rejected by Martin Kingsbury, publishing director of Faber. They were discarded until a chance meeting in 2005 with clarinettist Janet Hilton encouraged Howard to revise and complete them.