What music was written by Louis Levy?

this page first published by John Wright, 28 Oct 2001
last update 20 August 2012vintage@r2ok.co.uk

All the proper dance band recordings made by Louis Levy’s Gaumont-British Dance Band (in 1934) and the Gaumont-British Symphony (1936-40) are well-known standards written by the likes of Harry Woods, Noel Gay, Sigler-Goodhart-Hoffman etc etc. Are these recordings based on stock arrangements?

Many other recordings are Film Selections, arrangements of music from major Hollywood films e.g. Swing Time, On The Avenue, Wizard Of Oz, The Great Ziegfield. The question is did Louis Levy write the arrangements of these selections for the recordings?

Many recordings were issued under the banner ‘Music From the Movies’. There is evidence that Louis Levy did write some film music, and was involved in the musicical direction of a lot of films. Trying to find answers to the question ‘what music did Louis Levy write?’ there is some information to be found on the internet, in particular at the website Musicweb

From pages at Musicweb:

LOUIS LEVY

"Louis Levy (1893-1957) was active in films from 1916 and with Gaumont and Gainsborough between 1928 and 1947 as supervisor to the musical side of all their productions. He was credited with the music for many of their films; but it is difficult to say exactly what music he actually composed. The Citadel (1938) is his as is the march-style title music for the Gaumont-British newsreel. His music graces Oh Mr. Porter (1937). He also wrote music for the 1941 screening of The Ghost Train.
A selection of other films scores credited to Levy: Evensong (1934), Alias Bulldog Drummond (1935), Mr Hobo (1935), Transatlantic Tunnel (1935), East Meets West (1936), First a Girl (1936), It’s Love Again (1936), Nine Days a Queen (1936), Passing of the Third Floor Back (1936), Secret Agent (1936), Seven Sinners (1936), Head Over Heels in Love (1936), Man of Affairs (1937), The Citadel (1938), Haunted Honeymoon (1941), Night Train (1941), The Hasty Heart (1949), Woman in a Dressing Gown (1957)".

from the page on BRITISH LIGHT MUSIC COMPOSERS

"One of the big names in the early history of British film music is Louis Levy (1893-1957), active in films from 1916 and with Gaumont and Gainsborough between 1928 and 1947 as supervisor to the musical side of all their productions. As such he was credited with the music for many, perhaps the majority, of their films; but it is difficult to determine exactly what music he actually composed. That for The Citadel (1938) is almost certainly his, as apparently was the well-remembered, march-like signature music for the Gaumont-British newsreel, also an orchestral number, Maltese Entr'Acte which has no film connection that I know of".

Collection: Psycho - The Essential Alfred Hitchcock
SILVA SCREEN 2CDs FILMXCD320

This is a new compilation of previously released selections. There are four selections from Hitch’s British films. First there is Jack Beaver’s score for The Thirty-Nine Steps which is exciting and menacing enough with some romantic and vaudeville elements. Philip Lane develops Charles Williams and Louis Levy’s brief and fragmentary music for The Lady Vanishes so that it emerges here as a miniature piano concerto very much in the popular style of the day. Lane also reconstructs and orchestrates Louis Levy’s Stage Fright Rhapsody, compiled from the music he scored for the film".

RAILWAYS IN MUSIC by Philip Scowcroft

"Oh Mr Porter! (1937) is credited to Louis Levy, though much of the score was probably written by Jack Beaver. (John Cook was responsible for the music for the TV version on 1990.) Levy also composed - or was credited with - the music for the 1941 screening of The Ghost Train. The two versions of The Lady Vanishes(1938 and 1979), a thriller set on what we may assume in general terms to be the Orient Express, had music by Louis Levy and Richard Hartley respectively. To return to thriller films, Charles Williams, better remembered as the composer of The Dream of Olwen (composed for the non-railway film While I Live), wrote the music for Night Train to Munich(1940), sometimes called simply Night Train or SS Gestapo, although, as so often at that period, Louis Levy was credited with it".

"Priestley's writings inspired other music. The Good Companions is, when staged a natural for musical treatment. It was made into a musical at least five times - three times on film, including in 1932 when George Posford provided the music for the songs and Louis Levy was the Musical Director

Collection: Music from Alfred Hitchcock Films MUSEUM MUSIC MM103

Includes original soundtrack recordings from early Hitchcock thrillers made in England: Young and Innocent with its period dance band music (for 'No One Can Like The Drummer Man' cue), The 39 Steps and Sabotage - all scored by Louis Levy.

SOME BRITISH CONDUCTOR-COMPOSERS by Philip L. Scowcroft Part 4

Louis Levy (1893-1957) was supervisor and Musical Director with Gaumont and Gainsborough. He is credited with much more film music than he actually wrote but he probably wrote the music for The Citadel (1938), Busman’s Honeymoon (1940), the celebrated Gaumont-British News title march and an orchestral number Maltese Entr’Acte.

all extracts above are from pages at Musicweb

In October 2005 Alexander Gleason wrote to me to say:

At the risk of offending the compilers of Music-Web and CD sleeve-note writers,I think the time has come to clarify the whole Louis Levy issue, once and for all. After 15 years intensive research, I can now state unequivocally that none of the film scores mentioned above were composed by the great man!  

The Gaumont British Symphony/dance band records were invariably arranged by Peter Yorke.The movies (in order as listed above) were scored as follows  

The Citadel (1938) - Charles Williams
Oh Mr Porter (1937) - Charles Williams
The Ghost Train (1941)- Walter Goehr
Evensong (1934) - Hubert Bath & Bretton Byrd
Bulldog Jack[Alias Bulldog Drummond] (1935) -Hubert Bath
The Guv'nor [Mr Hobo] (1935) - Arthur Benjamin
The Tunnel [Transatlantic Tunnel] (1935) -Bath
East Meets West (1936) - John Greenwood
First a Girl (1936) - Bretton Byrd & Leighton Lucas
It's Love Again (1936) - Bretton Byrd
Tudor Rose [Nine Days a Queen] (1936)- Hubert Bath
Passing of the Third Floor Back (1936) - Hubert Bath
Secret Agent (1936) - Charles Williams
Seven Sinners (1936) - Bretton Byrd
Head over Heels (1936) - Byrd & Lucas
Busman's Honeymoon [Haunted Honeymoon] (1941) - Charles Williams
Night Train to Munich (1940) - Charles Williams
The Hasty Heart (1949) - Jack Beaver
Woman in a Dressing-Gown (1957) - miscellaneous
The Thirty-Nine Steps (1935) - Beaver,Williams & Bath
The Lady Vanishes (1938) - Charles Williams
Stage Fright (1949) - Leighton Lucas
The Good Companions (1933) - Byrd, Lucas & Walter Collins
Young and Innocent (1937) - Jack Beaver
Sabotage (1936) - Charles Williams  

and finally "Music for the Movies march"  aka "March of the Movies" reputedly composed by Levy, possibly the first ten notes sketched out by him but whole work probably composed, and certainly arranged by Hubert Bath.  

Levy is credited with musical direction of some 250 talkies - again, I must stress he did not compose or arrange a single one. Perhaps this finally settles the matter.

Alexander Gleason - compiler of the forthcoming British Film Music Encyclopaedia


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