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Michael Nyman (1944 - )

Related: 1944 - British music - experimental music - minimalism in music - soundtracks - Peter Greenaway

Film scored: The Cook, the Thief, His Wife and Her Lover (1989) - Monsieur Hire (1989) - Gattaca (1997)

Experimental Music : Cage and Beyond - Michael Nyman [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

"I think that the best piece of music that I ever wrote for a film was for The Cook, The Thief, His Wife & Her Lover: it was the piece memorial that was dedicated to the Juventus fans who were killed in the Heysel Stadium, I think that's the strongest piece of film music and the interesting thing about it is that it wasn't a piece of film music. It was a piece of concept music, but I think that's the piece of music I've written that has the strongest effect on the film it accompanies, so in a way I'm proudest of that." -- Michael Nyman, January 2002


Michael Nyman (born March 23, 1944) is a British minimalist composer, pianist, librettist and musicologist, many of whose works are associated with the filmmaker Peter Greenaway. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Nyman [Feb 2005]


His music has reached its largest audience by way of his film scores, most famously for Peter Greenaway, with whom he collaborated on five feature films between 1976 and 1991. Other directors with whom he has worked include Jane Campion (The Piano, 1992), Volker Schlöndorff (The Ogre, 1996), Neil Jordan (The End of the Affair, 1999) and Michael Winterbottom (Wonderland, 1999). He also collaborated with Damon Albarn on the music for Antonia Bird's Ravenous (1998).

Film soundtracks

  1. Son's Room (2001) - La Stanza Del Figlio - Nanni Moretti [1 DVD, Amazon US]
    Italian filmmaker Nanni Moretti's signature talent for the overheard, unexpected, and happened-upon detail lends The Son's Room, the story of a grieving middle-class family, the unnerving quality of an unwanted surprise. Giovanni (Moretti) is a successful psychoanalyst whose family life is remarkably placid and enviously intimate: his beautiful wife (Laura Morante) and two intelligent, attractive teenage children are unafraid of their emotions. When his son, Andrea (Giuseppe Sanfelice), drowns in a diving accident, Giovanni is driven to suspend his practice and unintentionally betray his patients as he is haunted by what small choice he might have made in order to avert his son's death. Moretti, more widely known for his comedies, masterfully recreates how seemingly trivial things can take on such importance in the aftermath of tragedy. The intricacies of remembering are traced with such a light touch that the cumulative impact of the film is far greater than its many well-chosen details. Winner of the Palme d'Or (highest honor) at the Cannes International Film Festival, The Son's Room, which refuses melodrama at every step, is a deeply affecting portrait of familial love and the ritual of grieving. --Fionn Meade for amazon.com

  2. Wonderland (1999) - Michael Winterbottom [DVD, Amazon US]
    I avoid the "grade inflation" so prevalent at this site. There are few movies I rate "5", but this one certainly deserves it. It has the feel of Magnolia, but with more subtlety. Wonderland depicts modern urban alienation, but with tremendous human compassion and artfullness instead of cold philosophy or polemics. The directing and photography are both top-notch. The occasional visual gimmick works because it is employed only where appropriate. Unlike Magnolia, the several characters intermix throughout the movie. Our understanding of the them is established with impressive economy. The only criticisms I have are the several instances of indistinct dialogue (I'm thankful for subtitles) and the lack of extras on the DVD. --A viewer for amazon.com

  3. The Draughtsman's Contract (1982) - Peter Greenaway [Amazon US]
    This tale of a 17th Century draughtsman who takes a commission to do drawings of a wealthy Englishman's estate only if he can "do" the Lady of the estate at the same time, is an intriguing piece for those unhurried and with a taste for something different.
    Meticulously recreating the era, with the best candlelit scenes since Barry Lyndon, we realize that a stately sort of mystery is unfolding as we watch the arrogant artist have his way with first the mistress of the house and then her daughter, all the while insulting and denigrating everyone around him.
    The Draughtsman is arrogant, self-confident, and sure that he is superior to the aristocratic twits he serves with his art. That he believes he is smarter than everyone around him will come around to be his undoing. Being used while he thinks he is doing the using, the Draughtsman finds out too late that he has been nothing more than a pawn in a game he never understood.
    Not for everyone, I found the film fascinating but as detached and aloof as its protagonist. This cold detachment becomes the wry amusement in the story, but also separates us from any emotional connection to the characters. There are also the typical Greenaway non sequiturs, in this case a naked fool, painted, posing as statues etc. At any rate, worth a look for those wanting something different. -- Amazon.com Customer from Anaheim, CA United States

Experimental Music : Cage and Beyond - Michael Nyman

  1. Experimental Music : Cage and Beyond - Michael Nyman [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]
    Michael Nyman's book is a first-hand account of experimental music from 1950 to 1970. First published in 1974, it has remained the classic text on a significant form of music making and composing that developed alongside, and partly in opposition to, the postwar modernist tradition of composers such as Boulez, Berio, or Stockhausen. The experimentalist par excellence was John Cage whose legendary 4' 33'' consists of four minutes and thirty three seconds of silence to be performed on any instrument. Such pieces have a conceptual rather than purely musical starting point and radically challenge conventional notions of the musical work. Nyman's book traces the revolutionary attitudes that were developed toward concepts of time, space, sound, and composer/performer responsibility. It was within the experimental tradition that the seeds of musical minimalism were sown and the book contains reference to the early works of Reich, Riley, Young, and Glass. This second edition contains a new Foreword, an updated discography, and a historical overview by the author. --amazon.com

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