Score of the orchestral suite taken from the 1979 Warner Brothers film starring Dustin Hoffmann and Vanessa Redgrave
Published by: Highbridge Music Ltd
Commissioned by: Carl Davis for BBC's 'Lost Scores' 1994
Instrumentation: 2222 4231 3pc cel hp str
[Key to Abbreviations]
Duration: 12 mins
First Performance:

BBC Concert Orchestra conducted by Carl Davis

The Barbican Concert Hall, 20th May 1995.

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Suite from the film produced by David Puttnam (and Jarvis Astaire) starring Dustin Hoffmann and Vanessa Redgrave. Directed by Michael Apted.


The filming of 'Agatha' in 1978 was very troubled, not least because there were no less than five conflicting writers involved and also perhaps because Vanessa had expressed the wish to perform an operatic aria as part of the production. When the film was completed I was asked to compose and record a large-scale score 'in the manner of Max Steiner' in an attempt to 'make it rather more exciting!' (a somewhat dangerous ployl) For some reason, the producer, my friend David Puttnam at this point suddenly walked away from the project and a new producer arrived with totally different views. The director Michael Apted loved the score although in his enthusiasm it was dubbed perhaps too loudly. A questionnaire at a BAFTA viewing revealed that the audience loved the music but didn't much like the film. This did not please Jarvis Astaire, the incoming producer who told me that because of this audience view he was going to 'bin my entire score'. The editor, my dear friend Jim Clark, however presented a different take on this in his autobiography of 2010 'Dream Repairman':

'This production had another strange and rather sad little story. Howard Blake had written an absolutely wonderful score for 'Agatha' which we recorded and mixed. It was very much in the Miklos Rosza style and I thought it was great and so did Michael Apted. We ran the movie one night at BAFTA for an invited audience and for some reason Vanessa didn't like the music and she was instrumental in having First Artists dump Howard's score and replace it with an American score by Johnny Mandel. It changed the nature of the movie because it became more sentimental.'

I was mortified. If the score had remained I think that I might well have moved into the forefront of feature film composing. This was clearly a blow and my career was definitely affected by it.


22nd June 2019 Harrogate Symphony Orchestra ('Agatha Suite' to be conducted by Howard Blake), Harrogate Proms, Royal Hall Harrogate, Yorkshire

A Very British Proms
Royal Hall June 22nd 2019
English Folk Song Suite (11) Vaughan-Williams
Elizabethan Serenade (3.40) and Binge
The Watermill (3.50) (oboe soloist)
Jupiter (from The Planets) (7.30) Holst
The Lark Ascending (15) Vaughan-Williams
By the Sleepy Lagoon (4) Coates
March from the Little Suite (4) Trevor Duncan
4 Scottish Dances (10) Malcolm Arnold
Crown Imperial (7) Walton
Chanson de Matin (4) Elgar
Agatha (12) Howard Blake
Nimrod (Enigma Variations) (3) Elgar
Pomp and Circumstance March no. 1 or 4 (5) Elgar
Fantasia on British Sea Songs (18) Wood/Sergeant
and Rule Britannia
Jerusalem (3) Parry
1st half: 62
2nd half: 52 mins

Related Works

'*AGATHA' op.265 (April 1978)
Musical direction and composer of a full orchestral score for the feature film starring Dustin Hoffman and Vanessa Redgrave, directed by Michael Apted
'*AGATHA ORCHESTRAL SUITE' op.702 (June 2018) (Audio Sample Available)
Score of the orchestral suite taken from the 1979 Warner Brothers film starring Dustin Hoffmann and Vanessa Redgrave

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