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Enquiries for sheet music, score and orchestral parts, media and grand rights licensing to Chester Music CH77176 www.chesternovello.com
This concert version may be performed either with narrator or with projection of the original animated film, available from www.thesnowman.co.uk or email@example.com
Further enquiries about 'The Snowman' in general and all other related works by composer/lyricist Howard Blake from firstname.lastname@example.org
The Snowman Piano Score is published by Chester CH7 6879
All sheet music for "The Snowman" and "Walking In The Air" since 2010 is published and available from Chester Music Ltd, part of The Music Sales Group, www.chesternovello.com It can be purchased online from MusicRoom.com, or from music retailers.
"Walking In The Air" is also available in a concert piano-only version arranged by the composer direct from Highbridge Music as part of the collection of piano pieces called "Lifecycle", available form Amazon or from Highbridge Music; enquiries to email@example.com
CD Sony BMG (Columbia) CDX 71116 (complete CD of The Snowman, first with narration by Bernard Cribbins second without narration).
Available from from Amazon and other retailers.
The 1985 Aled Jones cover version of "Walking In The Air" is available from EMI.
Many other cover versions available - see The Snowman site
1.'THE SNOWMAN' (1983), THE COMPLETE MUSIC SOUNDTRACK OF THE ANIMATED FILM WITH ADDED NARRATION SPOKEN BY BERNARD CRIBBINS, 'WALKING ON THE AIR' SUNG BY TREBLE, PETER AUTY, WITH THE SINFONIA OF LONDON CONDUCTED BY THE COMPOSER, HOWARD BLAKE ON COLUMBIA CDX 71116, 'SIDE A' WITH NARRATOR, 'SIDE B' MUSIC ONLY. AVAILABLE FROM SONY CLASSICS AND AMAZON
2. 'THE SNOWMAN' (2008) WORDS AND MUSIC BY HOWARD BLAKE; PRODUCED BY HOWARD BLAKE, NARRATED BY JAMES NESBITT, TREBLE, PETER AUTY, THE SINFONIA OF LONDON CONDUCTED BY THE COMPOSER, SONY/BMG 86972 02502COLUMBIA, 'SIDE A' WITH NARRATOR, 'SIDE B' MUSIC ONLY. AVAILABLE ON SONY CLASSICS AND AMAZON
Howard Blake describes 25 years of The Snowman animated film and 10 years of The Snowman Stage Show at Sadler's Wells Peacock Theatre in London's West End and plays "Walking in the Air". View the recording here.
The classic original Columbia album conducted by Howard Blake with treble soloist Peter Auty and narration by Bernard Cribbins is available from Sony Music Entertainment CDX71116CD, Amazon and retailers.
The 2010 DVD film of The Snowman Live Stage Show narrated by Joanna Lumley is available from Sony Music Entertainment, CDR 81267; also from Amazon and retailers.
|22nd December 2017||Jason Thornton conducted brilliant performances with The Bath Philharmonia: 'The Snowman' and 'The Bear' both with film, singers and orchestra. A presenter introduced players and instruments to fill up an entire programme of Howard's music., The Forum Bath|
|17th December 2017|| Snape Maltings 4.00pm
A Christmas Classic and a beloved bear
Herbert Chappell Paddington Bear’s First Concert
Zeb Soanes narrator
The Snowman has been essential seasonal TV viewing for nearly four decades. But experiencing it on Snape Maltings’ big screen to the accompaniment of live orchestra adds an extra special magic that appeals to the excitable child in all of us. Before the film, a musical meeting with the ever-popular Paddington, and the narrated tale – with orchestra – of his first concert experience and the predictable mayhem that follows.
Main image © Snowman Enterprises Ltd
|17th December 2017||The Orchestra of Opera North
Hugh Brunt - conductor
John Savournin - presenter, Sun 17 December 2017
Victoria Hall. Leeds
Prokofiev - Suite: Cinderella
Howard Blake - The SnowmanArguably the most cherished soundtrack to the Christmas season is the score to Raymond Briggs’ The Snowman. This December the Orchestra of Opera North performs the music live in all its heart-melting splendour to a screening of the animation. Sure to captivate the imaginations of young and old alike, this is not only the perfect way to spend time with loved ones, but a wonderful introduction to the thrills, chills and power of a symphony orchestra performing live. Before the screening, narrator John Savournin delights with the classic rags-to-riches tale of Cinderella with sensational music and illustrations to accompany the story.
|6th January 2017
- 8th January 2017
|"The Snowman" with Jaume Comas (narrator), Ana Puche(soprano),The Liverpool String Quartet(Jim Clark,Sarah Hill,Daniel Sanxis,Alex Holladay.) Cesar Franck Piano Quintet with Martin Roscoe (piano)
Martin Roscoe (piano), Ana Puche (soprano), Jaume Comas (narrator) and
Liverpool String Quartet, Saint Vincent, Castellvell del Camp,Tarragona,Spain, January 6th, 8.00pm (other venues 7,8 tbc)
|23rd December 2016||
The Snowman with the Pops
The heart-warming animated Christmas film The Snowman has been a beloved staple of family holiday entertainment for over 30 years. Your Cincinnati Pops perform Howard Blake’s beautiful score live as the movie plays in high definition over the stage.
|20th December 2016
- 21st December 2016
| The Snowman (screening with live music)
|18th December 2016||The girls of The National Children's Choir and the Suffolk Ensemble, directed by Ben Parry, Snape Maltings Concert Hall, Aldeburgh, Suffolk, performances at 2.00pm and 4.00pm
The first two public live performance of Howard's new animated film 'The Land of Counterpane' (2016), projected on screen with live children's choir and orchestra took place on Sunday 18th December at 2pm and 4 pm to capacity audiences in the Snape Maltings concert hall in a Howard Blake double-bill along with the original film of 'The Snowman' film (1982). Great performances by the National Youth Children's Girls Choir and The Suffolk Ensemble Orchestra led by Cleo Gould and conducted by Ben Parry. The concert was the brain-child of Proms director Roger Wright moved to Suffolk to preside over the music of Aldeburgh.
THE LAND OF COUNTERPANE - an animated song-cycle (26-minute film) (DVD)Recorded: 2016
Artists: The Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Mary Erskine Choir, David Rintoul (narrator), Mark Reeve (graphic artist), Emmett Elvin (animator), Howard Blake (director)
Categories: [Film & TV Scores]
Released by: HOWARD BLAKE ENTERPRISES
'THE LAND OF COUNTERPANE' An animated song-cycle for children's choir, narrator and orchestra The poet and novelist Robert Louis Stevenson was a sickly child confined to his bed, the covering of which was a vivid patchwork quilt known as a 'counterpane'. The pictures on it led him to flights of imagination, which he later recalled in his collection of poems "A Child's Garden of Verses". Twelve of these poems are set to music by Howard Blake and his spellbinding animated film has already excited rapt audiences in Edinburgh, the Daily Mail stating that it is 'the film that's poised to be the new Snowman'. It has been scheduled for a world premiere in Aldeburgh on December 18th 2016 in a fabulous double-bill with 'The Snowman' after which date it will be available for your own choir and orchestra to perform. (Film, score and parts available, contact: firstname.lastname@example.org)
|17th December 2016||Graham Norton - celebrity interviewer, BBC Terry Wogan House (Broadcasting House LondoN) Saturday, December 17TH 2016
The release of the new duet version of 'Walking in the Air' on Aled Jones's 'One Voice at Christmas' album caused a flurry of publicity over Christmas 2016. Howard was invited to take part in the top celebrity chat show on BBC Radio, the Graham Norton show, to talk about his long-lived musical career and was asked questions about his role in 'The Italian Job' with Quincy Jones, his beginnings in a pub in the Edgware Road called The Lord Chancellor, his role as pianist at Abbey Road at the time of the Beatles and how he came to write the soundtrack of the worlsd-famous animated film 'The Snowman'.
- January 2017
|Fabio Mastrangelo (conductor) 2016/2017 St.Petersburg Academic Symphony Orchestra, Maestro Yury Temirkanov Grand Philharmonic Hall, Arts Square, St. Petersburg
Children's Christmas Music by Tchaikovsky, Howard Blake, Korngold and Rebikov.
|December 2016|| The newly named Classical KING FM Family Concerts presents four hour-long symphonic programs for children ages 6 to 11 and their families on Saturdays at 11 a.m. in the S. Mark Taper Foundation Auditorium.
|25th November 2016
- 26th November 2016
|The Orchestra of the Swiss Commercial Association Zurich, Friday, 25.11.2016, 20.00 hrs Zurich (City Centre), St. Peter's Church
Saturday, 26.11.2016, 19.00 hrs Thalwil (8m. from Zurich City Centre), Protestant Church
In addition to The Snowman, music by Vivaldi, Piazzolla, Tchaikovsky and Guilmant wil be performed.
|22nd December 2015
- 23rd December 2015
|Stephen Bell cond, Tom Redmond presenter, Bridgewater Hall, Manchester
22nd Dec 1.30pm and 4.00pm
23rd Dec 1.30pm and 4.00pm
|29th November 2015||Tonhalle Orchester Zurich,|
|24th November 2015
- 28th November 2015
|Swedish Chamber Orchestra directed by Katerina Andreassen, Orebro,Sweden|
|31st January 2015||Jersey Orchestra cond. by Howard Blake, St.Helier
Excerpts from Star Wars, The Good,bad and the ugly, Lord of the Rings etc live orchestra with screening
|31st January 2015||Howard Blake conducts the augmented Jersey Chamber Orchestra and St Michael's children's choir and soloists, Opera House, St. Helier, Jersey 8.00pm
Howard Blake conducts screened versions of 'The Snowman' and his new film 'The Land of Counterpane'. The programme will include music from Star Wars, The Lord of the Rings, The Good the Bad and the Ugly, Schindler's List, James Bond and other famous film scores.
|23rd December 2014||Halle Orchestra, Stephen Bell cond., Bridgewater Hall Manchester|
|22nd December 2014||Mozart Orchestra, Cadogan Hall with projected film
Wth orchestra and projected film
|22nd December 2014
- 24th December 2014
|Royal Northern Sinfonia, Alan Fearon cond., perfs 22,23,24 December 2014|
|22nd December 2014||The Mozart Orchestra, Cadogan Hall, London|
|21st December 2014||St Petersburg Symphony Orchestra,, Muisc Festival 'Arts Square'
|21st December 2014||Orchestra of Opera North, Town Hall, Leeds|
|18th December 2014||Conductor Christopher Bell, narrator Julie Nimmo, with chorus and film projection, Aberdeen|
|17th December 2014||Kuopion kaupunginorkesten Atso Almila cond., Kuopio Finland|
|14th December 2014||Kyoto Symphony Orchestra cond. by Hiroshi Sekiya, Kaihanna Plaza main hall, Kyoto, Japan|
|13th December 2014||Orchestra of St Paul's cond. Ben Palmer, QEH|
|12th December 2014||London Philharmonic Orchestra, Heathrow Airport|
|11th December 2014||Orchestra of Opera North,|
|11th December 2014||Royal Philharmonic Orchestra cond. John Rutter,|
|23rd November 2014||Carlisle Pennsylvania, Carlisle Theatre 3.00pm|
|9th October 2014||City Chamber Orchestra of Hong Kong, cond. Colin Touchin, host Tania Martin, Sha Tin Town Hall Auditorium
28 December 2014 Hong Kong(China)The Snowman, The Bear, City Chamber Orchestra of Hong Kong conducted by Colin Touchin - Sha Tin Town Hall Auditorium, City Chamber Orchestra of Hong Kong, Colin Touchin, guest conductor Tania Martin,Music by Howard Blake Original stories by Raymond Briggs Spice up your winter holidays with Howard Blake's The Snowman & The Bear! These two animated films, both heartwarming and magical, are based on picture-books by Raymond Briggs. Experience them on the big screen to the sounds of live orchestral accompaniment and singing. The perfect holiday treat for all the family.
|8th December 2013||Kinder-Konzert mit der Jenaer Philharmonie, Werke von Leopold Mozart und Howard Blake
Volkshaus, Carl-Zeiss-Platz, Jena
Dirigent: Sergi Roca
Moderation: Patrick Rohbeck
ab 6 Jahre / ca. 60 Minuten
Kreisfreie Stadt Jena
Leopold Mozart Die musikalische Schlittenfahrt
Howard Blake Der Schneemann Für Sprecher, Knabensopran und Orchester
|8th December 2013||The Concord Orchestra, Richard Pittman, conductor The Concord Orchestra has invited five members of the Fenn School Treble Chorus to sing the song for this performance. They are sixth-graders Charlie Clark and Henry Patton of Concord; Oliver Neale of Sudbury; fifth-graders William Skelly of Carlisle and Andre Vlahakis of Lowell. The Fenn School in Concord is an independent school for boys in grades 4 through 9. The 35-member Treble Chorus is an auditioned choir for boys and is under the direction of Michael Salvatore. Over the years, the boys have sung at the Boston Athenaeum, York Minster Cathedral, Castle Howard, The Boston Garden, and Fenway Park. Joyce Kulhawik is well known to Boston audiences as the Emmy award- winning arts and entertainment critic for WBZ-TV from1981 to 2008. Joyce Kulhawik (narrator) has covered local and national events from Boston and Broadway to Hollywood, reporting live from the Oscars, the Emmys, and the Grammys., Performing Arts Center, Concord, Mass. USA|
|7th December 2013||Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Ken Lam, conductor Rheda Becker, narrator (NB this is one of many orchestral performances scheduled in USA around Christmas.),|
|25th December 2012||Brandenburgische Staatsorchester Frankfurt(am Oder)
Richard Wolf, Knabensopran
Thorsten Spohr, Sprecher
Dirigent: Joseph Bousso
(Projected film, text in German), Nikolaisaal Potsdam,Berlin 17.00
Leopold Mozart "Musikalische Schlittenfahrt"
|27th October 2012||Howard Blake - composer/lyricist/conductor/producer, Peter Auty (boy soprano), The Sinfonia of London,
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is the agency of the United States government that is responsible for the nation's civilian space program and for aeronautics and aerospace research. The Commander of the International Space Station recently 'had a vision that Howard Blake's “Walking in the Air” song from “The Snowman” animated film would be great to have in the background of one of the spectacular time lapse aurora videos he’s working to capture' and Howard agreed with USA government authorities to proceed with this project. The amazing results of this collaboration can now be seen on You Tube. Dan Cook the mastermind of the project writes: 'We have completed the ISS imagery time-lapse project with “Walking in the Air” and wanted to share the feature with you. The imagery is absolutely stunning and coupled with the music, it becomes even more of a captivating experience.'
Walking on Air (on NASA’s “ReelNASA” YouTube Channel)
And, I’m sure you all may have seen “The Snowman” animated short film but for ease of reference, here’s the clip where the magical snowman takes the young boy on a night-time flying adventure where they experience many bird’s-eye views, including the ever-so-phenomenal dancing aurora.
The video is also currently featured on the NASA home page @ http://www.nasa.gov within the “NASA Multimedia” videos section located near the center of the page.
|10th December 2011||
The City of Hong Kong Chamber Orchestra will be giving 3 all-Howard Blake concerts before Christmas conducted by Colin Touchin with narrators Jacqueline Gourley and Henry Coombs. Programme will be The Snowman and The Bear, both with projected film 2.30 and 5.00 on 10.12.11 at Hong Kong City Hall Concert Hall 2.30 on 11.12.11 at Tsuen Wan Town Hall Auditorium
|1st June 2008||Macao Orchestra, Yan Chan, Macao International Festival, Macao S.A.R.
The concert also features a performance of THE BEAR for girl sopano, tenor, bass, narrator and orchestra
|1st June 2008||01/06/08 Snowman, The Macao Orchestra/Francis Kan, Macao Cultural Centre (Grand Auditorium) / Macao Macau International Festival (with film)|
|December 2007||Norwich Pops Orchestra, Geoff Davidson (with film), Norwich Playhouse, Norfolk, UK|
|26th December 2007||Mecklenburgisches Staats-theater, Martin Schelhaas, Mecklenburgisches Staats-theater Schwerin, Germany|
|26th December 2007||The Lithuanian State Symphony Orchestra/Piecaitis, Vilnius Congress Concert Hall Lithuania|
|23rd December 2007
- 24th December 2007
|Northern Sinfonia, Alan Fearon, The Sage, Gateshead (with film)|
|22nd December 2007||Royal Scottish Natonal Orchestra, Christopher Bell, Royal Concert Hall Glasgow (with film)|
|22nd December 2007||Walking in the Air, Royal Liverpool PO/Ian McMillan, Philharmonic Hall, Liverpool UK|
|21st December 2007||BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra/Peter Cynfryn Jones BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra/Peter Cynfryn Jones, Music Hall, Aberdeen UK|
|20th December 2007||BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra/Peter Cynfryn Jones, Town Hall, Ayr UK|
|20th December 2007||Nordeutscherundfunk, Hannover, Howard Griffiths, Norddeutscher Rundfunk, Hannover, Germany|
|19th December 2007||RSNO, Music Hall Aberdeen|
|18th December 2007||RSNO Christopher Bell, Caird Hall Dundee|
|18th December 2007||, Suhl und Gothe Germany|
|17th December 2007||Orchestra of St John's/John Lubbock, Cadogan Hall, London (with film) UK|
|16th December 2007||Northern Chamber Orchestra, Tatton Park, Knutsford, Cheshire (x 2) UK|
|16th December 2007||Walking in the Air, Huntington SO/Kimo Furumoto, Joan C Edwards Performing Arts Center, Marshall University, Huntington, WV, USA|
|16th December 2007||Walking in the Air Gloucestershire Youth Orchestra/Glyn Oxley, Town Hall, Cheltenham UK|
|15th December 2007||The Cantori Vocal Ensemble/Michael Crombie, United Free Church, Woodford Green UK|
|15th December 2007||Worcester Symphony Orchestra//Adrian Lucas, Worcester Cathedral UK|
|15th December 2007||Northampton County Youth 'Oldies' Orchestra/Paul Truman, Northampton High School UK|
|15th December 2007||15/12/2007 Walking in the Air,Huntington SO/Kimo Furumoto, Joan C Edwards Performing Arts Center, Marshall University, USA|
|14th December 2007||London Mozart Players, Walking in the Air, Croydon Parish Church|
|8th December 2007||Ulster orchestra, Christopher Bell, Waterfront Hall, Belfast (2 perf with film)|
|8th December 2007||cond. Markus L Frank, Anhaltisches Theater, Dessau (3 perfs) Germany|
|8th December 2007||Northampton Concert Orchestra/David Chambers, United Reformed Church, Northampton UK|
|6th December 2007||, Suhl und Gothe Germany|
|1st December 2007||National YO of Ireland, Gearoid Grant, The Helix, Dublin|
|25th November 2007||Bath Philharmonia, Jason Thornton, Howard Blake (pre-concert talk), Theatre Royal Bath (2 perfs)|
|11th November 2007||Funharmonics, Chris Jarvis/David Angus, London Philharmonic Orchestra, Royal Festival Hall|
|1st August 2007||Taipei Chinese Orchestra conducted by En Shao, Taipei, Taiwan (tbc)|
|7th January 2007||Bernard Cribbins (narrator),Benedict Williams,(treble from King's College Cambridge, director Stephen Cleobury), Cambridge Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by the composer, Corn Exchange,Cambridge|
|5th January 2007||Orchestra of the National Concert Hall,David Brophy, Craig Doyle (with film x2), National Concert Hall,Dublin, Eire|
|4th January 2007||Orquesta Sinfonica de Navarra, Carl Davis, Auditorio Baluarte, Pamplona, Spain (with film)|
|2nd January 2007||Northern Sinfonia, Alan Fearon (with film), The Sage, Gateshead|
|28th December 2006
- 29th December 2006
|Northern Sinfonia conducted by Alan Fearon, with film, Middlesborough Town Hall The Sage, Gateshead|
|23rd December 2006||Toronto Symphony Orchestra, with film, Toronto, Canada|
|23rd December 2006||Orchestra of St John's Smith Square, conducted by Johm Lubbock, Cadogan Hall,London (with film)
To include 'Cradle Song' for boy & girl trebles and 'The Bear' with projected film and soloists (tbc)
|23rd December 2006||RSNO, Christopher Bell (with film), Usher Hall, Edinburgh|
|23rd December 2006||Orchestra Sinfonica Verdi, Fabrizio Dorsi, Milan, Italy|
|23rd December 2006||Hutton & Shenfield Choral Society, Aurelian SO, Tim Hooper, Brentwood Centre, UK|
|21st December 2006||RSNO Christopher Bell (with film), Caird Hall, Dundee|
|20th December 2006||Royal Scottish National Orchestra and Junior Chorus, Christopher Bell, Music hall, Aberdeen|
|17th December 2006||Royal Scottish National Orchestra, conducted by Christopher Bell, with film, Royal Concert Hall, Glasgow, Scotland|
|17th December 2006
- 18th December 2006
|Orchestra of the National Concert Hall, David Brophy, Craig Doyle, National Concert hall, Dublin|
|16th December 2006||Folkestone orchestra, Saga Pavilion, Folkestone|
|14th December 2006||Latymer Students, Latymer School, London|
|14th December 2006||Student orchestra, Geoff Lavery, Bedford Modern School|
|13th December 2006||Dacorum Symphony Orchestra, Thomas Loten, Berkhampstead Collegiate School|
|12th December 2006||BBC National Orchestra of Wales, Grant Llewellyn, St David's Hall, Cardiff|
|11th December 2006
- 12th December 2006
|Ayrshire Symphony Orchestra, St Margaret's Church Ayr|
|10th December 2006||City of Hong Kong Chamber Orchestra, conducted by Richard Honnor, with film ( 2 performances), Hong Kong City Concert Hall, China
Also featuring a performance of 'The Bear'
|10th December 2006||Gloucestershire Youth Orchestra, Cheltenham Town Hall|
|9th December 2006||Ulster Orchestra conducted by Christopher Bell, with film (2x), Waterfront Hall, Belfast. Northern Ireland|
|8th December 2006
- 9th December 2006
|National Chiang Kai Shek Symphony Orchestra, with film. Carl Davis, National Chiang Kai Shek Auditorium, Taipei, Taiwan|
|5th December 2006||Caerphilly Music & Arts services (x2), Cardiff|
|3rd December 2006||Gottingen SO, Christoph Muller, Gottingen, Germany|
|1st December 2006
- 3rd December 2006
|Landesjugendorkester Bremen (Leer), Bremen Germany|
|25th November 2006||Edmonton Symphony Orchestra, 'Symphony for Kids', Edmonton, Canada (with film projection)|
|19th November 2006||Duna Szimfonikus Zenekar, Duna palata, Budapest, Hungary|
|6th May 2006||London Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by David Parry, solo treble Sam Oliver, Abbey Road Studios (in a recording for the LPO's own record label)|
|25th February 1996||Cambridge Philharmonic Society, Matthew Rowe, Corn Exchange Cambridge
Walking in the air
Now this brings back some memories. A bit before my time I will admit, but still an amazing holiday film. Based on author Raymond Briggs' children's book, the movie is wonderfully animated and extremely enjoyable. The story follows a young boy who builds a snowman, which later comes to life. It (it looks like a snowman, but who am I to judge?) and the boy have magical adventures through an amazingly animated winter wonderland.
While still a children's story, it is a great piece of film. In later versions of the movie, David Bowie was cast as the narrator. But what really sets this story apart in my mind at least is the music that goes along with it. It tugs at my heartstrings every time I hear it, and give me the goose bumps without fail. Walking in the Air is an amazing song that you have probably heard before, but don't know where from or its actual origin.
Singer Songwriter Howard Blake wrote the song for the movie, and it has been covered over and over again. Artists who have covered the song include Barry Manilow & Celine Dion in a duet, Kenny Loggins in his 1998 album December, Chloe Agnew and the Celtic Women and also operatic metal group Nightwish.
The song has also been covered this year by up and coming British rock band the Maccabees. The Maccabeess and Nightwish versions are currently my two favorites, but they are all amazing and I urge any music lover to check them out. The original version can be found here, with the accompanying video.
The Snowman is an amazingly heartwarming story of the innocence of youth and the magic of the season. It is a must-see for the coming Christmas time.
Jeff Sullivan, Christmas Movie Night - Mansfield Patch, 25/12/2011
Although it was not advertised as a family event, it goes without saying that including Howard Blake’s The Snowman is guaranteed to bring out parents and their children – from toddlers to teenagers. A large screen had been set up in front of the organ pipes, the narration was very skillfully handled by Siobhan Redmond and there was an excellent boy soprano soloist. It caught and held the attention of one and all – from start to finish.
Sandy Scott, Edinburgh Evening News, 19/12/2011
Raymond Briggs doesn't do Disney-style crowd-pleasers - so it seems to perplex him that the film of his book The Snowman has become a beloved festive staple and merchandise-monster over the last 25 years. Given the subject - a magical snowman and a night-time flight to meet Father Christmas - avoiding schmaltz must have been hard. But the speckled pencil drawings, the simple, silent storyline, Howard Blake's immortal music and that heart-breaking ending make for an achingly beautiful and wholly sugar-free masterpiece of old-school animation. A more sophisticated tale of friendship and loss than any wordy, plastic-looking CGI cartoon could muster nowadays, The Snowman is an inevitable Christmas classic - whether its creator likes it or not.
FIRST POSTED DECEMBER 19, 2007
Holly Kyte, First Post, 19/12/2007
Original Review: An undisputed animated classic, The Snowman is a magical adaptation of Raymond Briggs' well-loved storybook, telling the tale of a young boy who builds a snowman one Christmas Eve, which comes to life that night and takes the boy on an unforgettable trip to the North Pole to meet Santa Claus. It's a simple story of childhood wish fulfilment, told with loving attention to detail and superbly stylised renderings, and since its initial release in 1982, the film has gone on to be heralded as one of the best animated short films ever made. Every year over the Christmas period, in the UK at least, the TV station Channel 4 screens the film, allowing families both young and old to enjoy this wonderful piece of seasonal tradition time and again.
As the story of The Snowman unfolds completely without dialogue, Howard Blake's masterful score takes on increased significance. In recent years, Blake has virtually disappeared from the film scoring scene, despite a healthy career during the 1960s and 70s when he wrote excellent music for films such as The Duellists and Riddle of the Sands, and had his scheduled slot to score the film Alien taken by some bloke called Jerry Goldsmith... But if Blake never writes another note of film music in his life, his reputation in the genre's history will undoubtedly be secured by his contribution to this film, especially the legendary song "Walking In The Air".
Written to accompany the scene in which the Snowman and the boy take flight and make their epic journey northwards to see Father Christmas, Blake employed the talents of St. Paul's Cathedral choirboy Peter Auty to lend voice to his exquisite melody and his poetic words. With opening chords that allude to John Williams E.T., a spine-tingling chorus and an instrumental bridge to die for, "Walking In The Air" went on to attain world-wide fame when it was subsequently released as a single by the famous boy soprano Aled Jones in 1985. The remainder of Blake's score is presented in two suites, running at 15 and 6 minutes respectively, either side of the song.
Although necessarily a touch cartoonish in nature, Blake convincingly and cleverly manages to convey the good humour and emotion and magic in the story with a series of wonderful interconnected cues, all of which are performed with life and spirit by the Sinfonia of London. Among the highlights include the mock Caribbean-rhythms for when the Snowman is "sunbathing" in front of the fridge, the lovely music-box theme for the Snowman's dance around the boy's bedroom, the wonderful woodwind and xylophone scherzo for the pair's chaotic motorbike ride round the garden, the magnificently vibrant source music for the Dance of the Snowmen, and the bittersweet rendition of the Walking In The Air theme as the pair reluctantly fly home.
Columbia's album, which is apparently extremely difficult to find outside the British Isles, is one of the most intelligently structured I have ever encountered. As the entire score only runs for just under 26 minutes, the music is presented twice - firstly with narration by character actor Bernard Cribbins reading extracts from the book, and secondly as an unbroken suite of narration-free music. Whoever took the decision to release the CD in this format should be unreservedly congratulated for their vision: not only does the two-half technique mean that you get a 50-minute CD, but you also get a choice of how to experience it. For those unfamiliar with the film, Cribbins' voice provides a welcome connection between the music and the on-screen action, while for those who wish to experience Blake's delicate touch and detailed orchestrations can simply skip forward to track 4 and indulge themselves.
Many people the world over have taken the film of The Snowman to their hearts, and a similar number have embraced Blake's score with equal enthusiasm. Even disregarding the near-legendary song, Howard Blake's lively music for this animated masterpiece will surely stand the test of time and go on to be part of Britain's Christmas traditions for many years to come. Though Blake has written classical pieces, other film scores, music for a number of theatre productions, and even a second Briggs animation (The Bear), the majority of people still consider this composition to be the seminal work of his career.
Track Listing: The Story of the Snowman (15:30)Walking In The Air (written by Howard Blake, performed by Peter Auty) (3:30)The Story of the Snowman continued (6:40)The Snowman Soundtrack (15:30)Walking In The Air (written by Howard Blake, performed by Peter Auty) (3:30)The Snowman Soundtrack continued (6:40) Running Time: 50 minutes 20 seconds
Jonathan Broxton, Movie Music UK, 1/1/2000