It was a huge privilege to have been given the opportunity by Peter Kosminsky to compose the original score for the BBC’s adaptation of Hilary Mantel’s WOLF HALL. Tudor court music and the instruments of that period provided some initial inspiration, but the first thing that Peter asked me to do was to write a theme for Thomas Cromwell, and a theme for Anne Boleyn, and these two themes dominated the score in various different guises.
As I know that lovers of film music often enjoy hearing about the process of composition, I also composed three solo piano tracks, Crows, Forgive Me, and The Unicorn’s Horn which used the Cromwell and Anne Boleyn themes as they first appeared in my head, before the orchestration. Peter enjoys hearing the music played initially on solo piano, and so I would play him the themes in this purest form before developing them further to create the score.
Wolf Hall was a unique experience. It was the first project for some time where I used a small group of players, featuring a string quintet rather than a full string section, and it was a decision taken in order to attempt to depict the world of Thomas Cromwell in a way that wasn’t slavishly “Tudor” in instrumentation or musical style, but rather to convey immediacy and a sense of being “in the moment” with Cromwell – as Hilary Mantel says, our past is their present. A lush, full symphony orchestra, for instance, would have felt at odds with the way Peter, in his unmistakable style, had shot the series – not sweet or romanticised in any way, but raw, unperfumed and meticulously authentic.
I’ve enjoyed every minute of writing this score, and I hope that when playing these three piano solos, they bring back to mind the very special and unique world of Wolf Hall.
The score for Wolf Hall is now available on musicroom here.