Chaplin: City Lights
Label: CARL DAVIS COLLECTION
The City Lights Orchestra, Carl Davis
Chaplin, C: City Lights transcribed for orchestra by Carl Davis
Re-issue of the recording of Chaplin’s ‘City Lights’ March 1989 saw a seismic change in the world’s perception of Charlie Chaplin’s work in the cinema with the first live screenings of his masterpiece ‘City Lights’ in London at the Dominion Theatre. I had painstakingly transcribed Charlie’s original score recorded in 1930 and early 1931, for performances with orchestra. Within days requests were being made for performances in such diverse locations as Los Angeles, New York, Atlanta, Liverpool and Edinburgh. Many more followed and other conductors took up the mantle. After a year or so of continuing demand I suggested to my colleagues at Photoplay that they asked the Chaplin Estate if we could continue the exercise. Eventually ‘The Gold Rush’ (in its 1925 cut) and ‘The Kid’ followed. But ‘City Lights’ was special – who can ever forget the final scene, musically worthy of Puccini. As I begin over 20 years later another round of performances I look forward to conducting music that, like the film, plunges from the heights of irresistible comedy to extreme pathos. Charlie, you taught us all. Carl Davis, February 2012 City Lights is Charles Chaplin’s most perfect film, it was released at the time that ‘talkies’ were taking off but Chaplin decided that it was to be a silent film as the Tramp had communicated with a worldwide audience through mime and besides what voice would he give the Tramp, his own native London, The Bronx or of California. Chaplin decides as it was his first picture with synchronized sound to compose the musical score himself, with the music being delegated to a team of arrangers. ‘I did not write it down’ Chaplin said in an excess of modesty, ‘I la-laed it…it is all simple music to keep with my character…’ Here is the original score re-recorded by Carl Davis.