“Modern Times” Film Score

Chaplin’s Own Music for His Own “Modern Times” 

A-Modern Times   I find some recordings of film scores enjoyable even without the context of what was on the screen while the music was playing. My all-time favorite is Georges Auric’s score for “La Belle et la bete,” followed by Miklos Rozsa’s for “Thief of Bagdad” and “Jungle Book,” and William Walton’s for “Henry V.”

Among the most interesting scores is Charlie Chaplin’s own for his “Modern Times,” and it is now available on a CPO CD with the NDR Radiophilharmonie conducted by Timothy Brock, who also restored the music.

What was left in writing and what is heard in the film itself had many differences, slight and great; and Brock describes the problems he encountered in the excellent program notes. But while the music is of great historic interest both as film music and the work of Chaplin, the question remains as to whether it is worth the hearing for those who have no knowledge of the film “Modern Times.”

Hearing the score, all 79 minutes of it, I was too aware that all sorts of things were happening on the screen of which I could recall little. The track listings give hints such as “Lunchtime—Charlie’s breakdown—Worker’s Rally,” but while I find the music enjoyable in an abstract sense, I feel that viewing the film first is essential to enjoying it completely.

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