Death Rides a Horse

Hot on the heels of the Oregon Bach Festival Composers Symposium was the live performance of an original score written by Gracin Dorsey and myself for the spaghetti western classic, Death Rides a Horse. As stated on the film’s Wikipedia entry, the film has landed itself a special place in popular culture, not to mention Quentin Tarantino’s frequent homage paid to it in his Kill Bill series.

With great thanks to a combination of paper-work screw-ups, no doubt originating in some very large legal departments, and divine providence, I’m sure, this entire feature-length film has rather fortuitously fallen into the public domain. Filmusik, always combing the public archives for big-screen jewels to revive and revisit, approached and charged Gracin and I with the daunting task of writing our own original score for the film in place of Ennio Morricone’s. Musicians and singers from the likes of Opera Theater Oregon, Classical Revolution PDX, and the Eugene Contemporary Chamber Ensemble were all enlisted to help us pull off what turned out to be an extraordinary experience, with live choral and orchestral music performed live, “in the pit”, beneath the film.

KATU.com, based out of Portland, wrote up a review based on the first performance. Northwest Reverb has also posted their own “rave” review of the show. The official trailer for our rendition of the film is currently posted at Filmusik’s website.

I’ve included a sample of the film (the ending!) with a live recording of our own music below. This scene offers a decent taste of what our music for the rest of the film was like. Warning! Because it’s the last scene it may be a real plot spoiler!

Enormous thanks to Galen Huckins, Katie Taylor, Tuesday Rupp, and all musicians involved!

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