Upstairs Downstairs
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Upstairs Downstairs

The Music of Upstairs Downstairs - Series Two

Music by Carl Davis

The freshly polished silver sparkles in the light of the chandelier; the fragrance of fresh flowers fills the air. Set in the year preceding the Second World War, 165 Eaton Place reopens its doors and welcomes you back into the enrapturing lives of its inhabitants, both upstairs and down.

There may be two families living in 165 - one upstairs and one down - but their fates are intimately linked. With both upstairs and down harbouring life changing secrets and the menace of war creeping ever closer, the smooth running of Eaton Place threatens to come crashing to shattering halt. The Original Music from Series 2 contains a new recording of the famous original theme to the Seventies series plus all brand new incidental music composed and conducted by Carl Davis. The haunting theme for 165 Eaton Place sets the scene for this Thirties drama. Carl Davis provides music to capture the dance traditions of Rumbas and Swing of the period and a feeling of impending drama as the threat of World War looms ever closer with the disc ending on the iconic I Vow to Thee My Country sung by a Children's Choir


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Sleeve Notes

This highly successful 1970s series was revived for the BBC in 2011 and given a second outing in the spring of 2012.  I was given the opportunity to score this latter six-parter which covered the period 1937-1938 in the fortunes of the aristocratic family occupying 165 Eaton Place in one of London's swankiest neighbourhoods, Belgravia.

The excellent original theme by Alexander Faris (who, by the way, conducted my first opera The Arrangement in 1965) was a must for the revival of the series and is now heard in the context of 1937, when the music was a far cry from the rum-ti-tum of Edwardian London.  We are now in the "Swing Era" with the strong influence of American popular music everywhere - where radio, records and sound movies were readily available.  Big and small jazz bands were recorded and broadcast extensively.  Music was literally "in the air"; the directors and the producers of this later series responded to that and requested an abundance of music.

The original title music was rapidly converted from a genteel waltz to a big band foxtrot with jazzy orchestrations.  I helped myself to foxtrots, rumbas and sambas for scenes with any hint of background music as well as actuality scenes shot in nightclubs, balls and even a fashion photoshoot.  The dangerous aristo-spy, Lady Persephone, was provided with a seductive tango.  Classical references are made in Lady Agnes' maternal feelings for both house and family in a modal theme while the power struggle between the butler and the cook is delineated in a cocky march alternating with a nostalgic waltz, whereas Aunt Blanche's Sapphic affair has a more elevated Gluckian tone.  Our driver and parlour maid are served by variety-style down-to-earth themes, and a pop ballad romantic melody.

Finally, the War - the two years preceding the outbreak of World War II contained some of history's darkest chapters: the Appeasement Policy in the face of Germany's annexation of Austria and Czechoslovakia.  The destruction of Jewish properties and synagogues and the pacts between Germany, Italy and Russia are understood fully by Lord Hallam and form a substantial part of the story.  Musically, underscoring was needed to screw up the tension in the face of the inexorable march towards war.  The refugee crisis and the Kindertransport are enacted and form two vocal tracks, Lotte's Song Oh Ladybird arranged from a Brahms folksong transcription and an inspired idea of author and producer, the amazing Heidi Thomas, Holst's Jupiter-derived hymn I Vow to Thee my Country sung by a girls' choir to greet the newly arrived children of the Kindertransport to England.

The series ends with the sounds of an air-raid warning.  The events of World War II run throughout my career from my first documentary film score in the early 1960s "DP" which concerned Polish displaced persons, to my latest composition The Last Train to Tomorrow, a musical narrative set during the journey of the Kindertransport.  The vastness and range of experiences of World War II are such as to provide new memoirs and discoveries virtually every day.  The concrete evidence is there.  Perhaps we today can only try to understand through artistic endeavour what it was like to be there.

Carl Davis

May 2012


Track Listing

Download the complete album (MP3) - £7.99

1 Upstairs Downstairs Theme [1:06] £0.99
2 My Perfect Sister [1:33] £0.99
3 165 Eaton Place [3:06] £0.99
4 Lady Persephone (Percie) [2:52] £0.99
5 The Chauffeur and the Parlour Maid (Beryl and Spargo) [3:25] £0.99
6 A Prelude to a Fight [2:35] £0.99
7 Fish and Chips [0:56] £0.99
8 The Butler and the Cook (Mr P. and Mrs T.) [4:23] £0.99
9 Romancing the Butler [3:10] £0.99
10 Masters and Servants Ball [1:45] £0.99
11 Hung-over [2:09] £0.99
12 Lady Agnes [1:52] £0.99
13 Nylon Stockings [1:00] £0.99
14 An American in London [1:19] £0.99
15 We Rumba'd 'til Dawn [1:24] £0.99
16 Butterlips [1:41] £0.99
17 O Ladybird [1:10] £0.99
18 Johnny the Footman [1:14] £0.99
19 Sweatshop [1:56] £0.99
20 Health and Beauty March [1:36] £0.99
21 A Foggy Night [1:01] £0.99
22 Grubby [2:29] £0.99
23 Girls Friendly Society [2:05] £0.99
24 Agnes' Breakdown [1:26] £0.99
25 Lord Hallam [1:45] £0.99
26 Going to War [1:25] £0.99
27 Belgravia Nights [1:24] £0.99
28 Lotte [1:02] £0.99
29 Blues for Benny [2:18] £0.99
30 The Golden Blaze (Blance and Portia) [2:21] £0.99
31 Exit Time [2:46] £0.99
32 The Kindertransport (I Vow to Thee My Country) [3:41] £0.99

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