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Oliver's Travels
1996 (US), 1995 (UK)


Notes on the Music

A friend writes: "Oliver's Travels" is full of laughs and chuckles, and also, for me, one great belly laugh... evoked by the background music, which is a good trick! When Oliver and Diane arrive at the Baron's castle door and the colorful, 1960's-bedecked ageing flower child, the XIIIth Baron [Miles Anderson], comes on screen, we are treated to a tongue-in-cheek rendition of Bob Dylan's 'Don't Think Twice, It's All Right.' It comes up slowly, and in an arrangement totally unlike Dylan, and when I realized what it was...!

"I believe I found in the Bach Concerto for Flute and Strings in G major, H. 445, allegro di molto, a hint of the "Aristotle" theme from "Oliver's Travels" that occurs when Oliver is in the burnt-out cottage, and again in the last episode, at the cemetery and in Aristotle's house. There is also not quite so big a hint in Sonata in G major for flute and continuo (H. 564), allegretto. I'd say they are reminiscent of the film theme, with big pieces more or less intact, but with start and finish details quite different.

"The credits on the film for music mention only Carl Davis as music director, and creator of original music, and also name of the the sax player. Seems a bit sparse to me, especially as there's the Dylan, the Beethoven, a traditional folk tune, and a theme probably originating in Bach. Carl Davis's music publisher is Faber; there's a good profile of Davis.on their site."

From another "Oliver's Travels" fan:

"I found it strange that the credits of "Oliver's Travels" did not have anything more than Carl Davis and the saxophone player. The main theme is obviously an arrangement of Dave Brubeck's Take Five.

"Browsing through the newsgroups at deja.com, I've found a number of people with clues to other pieces used in the series, such as Scottish melodies, etc. I've found that an
arrangement of the Irish folk song "Carrickfergus" is in the series - though there were some disputes to this by other newsgroup members (You can hear it at this site). Also mentioned was a 60's folk song "Shenandoah". Either the song "The Water Is Wide" or "Waly, Waly" (sometimes spelt "Wally Wally") plays during a scene in the Orkneys - ancient ritual with 3 burning wheels. The closing tune is an arrangement of the "Skye Boat Song".

"Then there is this:
'Tech (alirt@canada.com) wrote:
Does anyone now the name of the Scottish melody used as background in the Mystery series "Oliver's Travels"?

'A traditional Scottish folksong: "The Water is Wide". It is one of those which has a first-class tune, and attracts what are termed "floaters" - disconnected verses which come from all over the place. I recall it from when I was folk-singing in England in the 'sixties. According to my notes it goes (in part):

"The water is wide, I cannot come o'er,
And neither have I wings to fly.
Give me a boat that will carry two,
And I will cross, my love and I.

Oh love is teasing, love is pleasing,
And love is tender when first 'tis new.
But as it grows older so it grows colder,
And fades away like the morning dew

I leaned my back against an oak,
Thinking it was a sturdy tree
But first it bowed and then it broke,
And so did my false love and me."

'I can still hear a singer named Pauline Hinchliffe singing it one night in '66 at the Derby Folk Club. A cappella, unamplified, and not a sound in the room except her wonderful voice...

Peter Wood'

"Of course, the above is only what I've come across through newsgroup searches so I can't verify any of it."

The Beethoven piano sonata heard when Oliver and Diane are approaching Kirkleven, and finally performed "live" by Baxter, is the "Apassionata." Bill Paterson (Baxter), who trained as a concert pianist, played it himself. |||


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