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Ben Hur soundtrack gets ‘majestic’ makeover from UWL lecturer

A lady playing a violin

'Majestic' music written for the cinematic epic Ben Hur has been given a fresh lease of life by a London College of Music (LCM) expert.

Leigh Phillips - who lectures in film composition - has painstakingly reconstructed the original musical score by composer Miklos Rozsa. It has never before been heard as it was intended, due to edits that Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer studio made prior to the landmark film’s release in 1959.

Over the course of four months Philips restored the soundtrack from the notation Rozsa made by hand on sheet music. Earlier this year, the 96-piece City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra and an 80-voice chorus then recorded the new version during eight sessions. It was also the first time the Ben Hur soundtrack was recorded digitally using modern studio technology.

Leigh Phillips

Philips said: ‘This project has been a voyage of discovery for me, I found music I hadn’t heard before and some of it makes a big difference to how the piece sounds. Hearing the finished article is such a thrill.’

Rozsa’s daughter Juliet has praised the new recording for restoring her father’s work to 'all its majestic glory'.

Ben Hur was a smash hit at the box-office upon its release and went on to win 11 Oscars in 1960, including for best musical score.

The new double-CD soundtrack is produced and published by Tadlow Music.