Paul Lewis Composer

Film, Television and Concert Composer.

Pandora's Box

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Silent movie screening with live orchestra.

Musical score composed and conducted by Paul Lewis



Louise Brooks as Lulu in 'Pandora’s Box'


G.W. Pabst’s 1929 silent movie masterpiece Pandora’s Box stars Louise Brooks in the role which ensured her a place in the Pantheon of immortal goddesses of the silver screen. This controversial, and in its day heavily censored, movie is still listed in the UK Guardian Newspaper’s top 100 films – (talkies included.) It is a two-hour emotional rollercoaster ride through the loves  – male and female  – of Lulu, a high class courtesan and dancer, and the trail of devastation she blazes through 1920s Berlin society, to exile in a Parisian gambling den, and abject poverty and violent death in a fogbound London.

The score took two years to compose, and is the biggest project of Paul's career to date. The first performance with Paul conducting the Royal Ballet Sinfonia at the Colston Hall in Bristol on September15th 2007 was a triumphant sell-out, as was the subsequent performance with the Orchestra Sinfonica del Friuli Venezia Giulia at the Giornate del Cinema Muto, the world’s largest international silent movie festival at Pordenone in Italy, where the demand for seats was so great that tickets were also sold for the dress rehearsal.

The score requires a highly skilled orchestra of 13 players plus string section, which should ideally number about 24, making 37 in all. Fewer strings would be possible but not preferable. There is a virtuosic solo part for the lead violin, which is in effect the voice of Lulu.


Paul Lewis rehearsing the Royal Ballet Sinfonia for the first performance

A musicologist's view

This is an extraordinary score, by far the best I know written for Pabst's beautiful film! That you have a real feeling for the light music of the 1930/40s is evident, and your light music has "le charme" of french composers such as Milhaud, Poulenc, Auric."
Prof. Jurg Stenzl, former Professor of Musicology, University of Salzburg.

Spontaneous reactions to the UK and Italian Premières

I thought last night was really fantastic.  I think the score is exceptional - and so I think did all the audience. A triumph and I think the Giornate should be very, very proud to have it.
David Robinson (Director of Le Giornate del Cinema Muto - the Pordenone Silent Film Festival, and author of definitive books on silent movies)

Well, what a wonderful evening!  Many congratulations.  I'm afraid we were a bit gushing with Paul Lewis about his stunning score but we really were knocked out by the sheer brilliance of it.  And how wonderful that his mother played for silents.The whole event was wonderful and memorable.
Christopher Serle ­(Broadcaster and silent movie enthusiast)

Thanks so much for a wonderful evening on Saturday.  I really enjoyed Paul's score, and the whole event was a triumph.
Robert Rider (Director of Silent Movies, The Barbican, London)

Just a quick note of congratulations on Pandora's Box. Really interesting to see the film on the big screen and, given my particular interests, a great chance to experience the effects of Pabst's realism in terms of the acting styles - histrionic gesture replaced by loads of tactile business with objects and people (although Brooks does appear to be in a different film on occasions). Great choice of film and Paul Lewis' score was tremendous - subtle, complex, responsive but never obvious - with a really outstanding performance by the RBS players. A really memorable event.
John Adams (University of Bristol)

What an entirely wonderful event.  Happy Birthday to the Watershed.  I was stunned by the film and the score. The power of silence with music to portray a whole world was extraordinary... it was great - the projector whirring in the back of the hall and the absolute absorption in the story throughout the audience.
June Burrough (Centre Director, The Pierian Centre)

The Giornate featured a new musical score by Paul Lewis, whose flamboyant composition was perfectly suited to rhe expressionistic excesses of the film's story and mis en scene.
Virginia Wright Wexman (Professor Emerita of English Art and History, University of Illinois, Chicago)

Congratulations on a fantastic event on Saturday...The smiles on people’s faces at the end said it all, well done - to all involved.
Karen Alexander

Just a quick one to say thank you ever so much for your excellent do on Saturday. The most fun I've had in the Colston Hall EVER. I've always wanted to see a proper print of the film all the way through, and the orchestral score was superb.
Eugene (This is NorthCliffe)

…..marks for symphonic scope.
BFI Sight and Sound magazine

A prodigious achievement.
Peter Hammond (veteran TV and film director)

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