Composer Snowman slams BBC’s ‘vile desecration’ of his work

The composer of The Snowman has slammed the BBC’s “vile desecration” of his work after he created a version without instruments which will air on radio this Christmas.

Howard Blake said he threatened to withdraw his permission for a remake of the classic film after learning that the broadcaster had recruited producer Jonathan Manners to reproduce the sounds of instruments with a chorus, a technique known as ” vocalize”.

The 82-year-old believes the much-loved story – which tells the story of a boy who made a snowman come to life – cannot be properly told without instrumental accompaniment.

Howard Blake said he threatened to withdraw his permission for a remake of the classic film after learning that the broadcaster had recruited producer Jonathan Manners to reproduce the sounds of instruments with a chorus, a technique known as ” vocalize”.

He said The Daily Telegraph: ‘This boy [Mr Manners] really trying to make a name for himself but I said to him, “What you did to my music is a desecration, it’s absolutely despicable.”

Mr Blake said he was initially approached by Mr Manners last August, who told him he wanted to swap instruments for ‘vocalises’ after hearing a choir sing Walking in the Air at St Albans.

The composer initially refused, but relented when told that the new arrangement had attracted interest from the royal family.

“When I refused, Jonathan said to me: ‘It’s very difficult, I’ve already spoken to Prince Charles and the Queen about it’ – how could I refuse?

Furious, he added: “They might reinvent my work at Christmas… but they still aren’t working with me – producer Jonathan Manners will be arranging The Snowman in vocals.” It is he who will have the merit of having arranged it, not me”.

The new show will air on Radio 3 on Christmas Eve at 7.30pm and on Radio 4 at 1.30pm on Christmas Day, with Stephen Fry providing narration.

The 82-year-old believes the much-loved story - which tells the story of a boy who made a snowman come to life - cannot be told properly without instrumental accompaniment

The 82-year-old believes the much-loved story – which tells the story of a boy who made a snowman come to life – cannot be told properly without instrumental accompaniment

Mr Blake, who received an OBE for services to music in 1994, was born to working-class parents in Brighton and by the age of six taught himself to read and play the music.

At 18 he won a scholarship to the Royal College of Music and spent some time as a session musician before receiving his break in 1968, when he was asked to compose incidental music for some of the episodes of Tara King of hit cult TV. The Avengers series.

Mr Blake said he was originally approached by Mr Manners (pictured) last August, who told him he wanted to swap instruments for a

Mr Blake said he was originally approached by Mr Manners (pictured) last August, who told him he wanted to swap instruments for a ‘vocalise’ after hearing a choir sing Walking in the Air at St Albans Cathedral.

Then, by chance, in 1982, Howard met film producer John Coates, who was working on a new animated film.

It was The Snowman – based on the children’s picture book by Raymond Briggs – but it needed a score to go with it.

Although many people believe Aled Jones sang the movie’s theme song, Walking in the Air, it was actually recorded by Peter Auty, a 12-year-old altar boy from St. Paul’s Cathedral.

It wasn’t until five years later, when a toy company asked to use the tune for a TV commercial, that Howard decided to re-record it.

Mr Blake likes to tell his friends the story of one time he took a taxi to the airport when Walking in the Air topped the Christmas charts.

He recalls: “The radio in the taxi was playing The Snowman, and I asked the driver to turn it down. He said, ‘Listen mate, this is the best song you’ll ever hear. You should sit down and listen. You might learn more about good music.

“So I sat down and said rather smugly. ‘Well, actually, I wrote that song. The driver turned around and said, ‘Oh, yeah? And I’m Santa Claus.”

A BBC spokesperson said: “The BBC Singers are honored to be working with Howard Blake on a special project as part of our Christmas lineup.

“As with all creative projects, there have been artistic discussions throughout and we have a brilliant team working on it, led by Jonathan Manners.”

Comments are closed.