“Paramount Pictures into Unique Soundtracks”
Interviewer : ECDJ, Emanuela Clari De Julis – Feb. 17, 2018
The Magazyne is honored today to share, with you all, this exclusive interview and music with multi-awarded Maestro Marco Werba. All his secrets in producing unique soundtracks will be revealed. Enjoy with us his inspiring life and creations.
Int: So glad and honored to have you here today to share your splendid life and profound, beautiful and extremely touching music. Before going to know everything about your Art, I would love The Magazyne’s readers to know you, Maestro Werba, and your life… I see you were born in Spain. Tell us more about it and about yourself…
Maestro Marco Werba: The honor is mine. Yes, I was born in Madrid. My father was an American journalist and was the reporter from Madrid of the “Variety” magazine. My mother is a painter and she was well-known in Spain for her abstract paintings. At that time, there still was the dictatorship of Franco. My father then asked to move Rome and this is why, with my family, we went to live in Italy. My father then became the correspondent from Rome of “Variety”.
Int: Has your family always supported your choice of being professionally part of the music world… or …were they dreaming of a future lawyer or doctor (smiling)?
Maestro Marco Werba: It is not easy to choose this profession and it’s obvious that the family can be worried about this choice. Not everyone can do artistic crafts and, especially in Italy, living as a musician is not that easy and many are forced to choose another profession and dedicate themselves to music as a hobby. I have resisted all these years. I did not get rich, but I managed to go on, with difficulty, doing the job I had chosen, combining the passion for cinema with the one for music. When I was 14/15 years old, I wanted to become a film director and made a few amateur Super 8 short movies. First love was Cinema, not music. The love for film scores came when I went with my father to see the Sci-fi movie “Logan’s Run”, directed in 1976 by Michael Anderson, starring Michael York and Jennifer Agutter. I loved so much the movie and went to see it two more times. At a certain point I realized that there was an extraordinary music, of the Academy Award winner, Jerry Goldsmith (who I had the pleasure of meeting, many years later) which was in my opinion revolutionary. For the city of the future he had written a very modern electronic music, for the scenes outside the city a “traditional” symphonic music. Sometimes the two sound dimensions overlapped, mixing the electronic parts with the orchestra. This film gave me the incentive to start collecting LPs of film music and then start studying music, with the ambition of becoming a Film composer.
Int: I see that you composed your first soundtrack in 1989, for director Cristina Comencini’s “Zoo”. For that film you have been awarded with the prestigious Italian “Premio Colonna Sonora”, ( Italian Soundtrack Award) and you had just started your career!! Moreover at your side, that day, there were also the worldwide renown Maestro Ennio Morricone and Francis Lai who received the “Colonna Sonora Lifetime Achievement Awards”. What a Good way to start Maestro Werba! I imagine you were very excited, weren’t you? …
Maestro Marco Werba: Yes, that has been one of the most exciting moments of my career. I was 25 years old. The Award ceremony took place at the “Teatro del Casinò” in Sanremo, with a live broadcast on RAI 1 (the first Italian television network). The winners were Ennio Morricone and Francis Lai (Lifetime Achievement Award), Marco Werba (Prize for “Zoo”) and Claudio Mattone (Prize for the songs of “Scugnizzi”).
Int: Some of the soundtracks you have brilliantly realized have been related to Thrillers and Horror genres. Have you been searching for the “thriller’s emotions” or viceversa the “thriller” has captured you?
Maestro Marco Werba: Good question. I always loved thriller genre movies. In fact the short Super 8 movies I directed were thrillers or sci-fi stories and I often went to a science fiction film festival in Rome, to see films like “Invasion of the Body Snatchers”, “The War of the Worlds“ and “Planet of the Apes“. For the music of thrillers and horror movies there are two schools of thought: The first is the classic and symphonic style related to composer Bernard Herrmann, the trusted musician of Alfred Hitchcock, but also for Citizen Kane by Orson Wells and Brian De Palma’s ”Obsession” and “Sisters”. He managed to scare using only the strings orchestra. The “Psycho” shower scene is memorable (and Hitchcock, in a first moment, didn’t want music for that scene). The other school of thought is linked to Mike Oldfield who, with the composition “Tubular Bells” (used by Friedkin in “The Exorcist”), served as a model for the electronic and rock music of Tangerine Dream, of the Italian group Goblin and of John Carpenter’s music.
Int: What about the action-thriller “Dead on Time”, by American director Rish Mustaine. How had it been working on that movie and creating such a colossal soundtrack? (Here an extract for the readers to enjoy!)
Maestro Marco Werba: “Dead on Time” is an action movie about Islamic terrorism. The Arab Spring of 2011 is in full eruption, turmoil consumes the Mid-East region as protesters, rebels and insurgents wreak havoc and destruction. A Clandestine American Military Agency, ‘Black Halo’, is forced to move a vital asset out of the warzone. Mike McGuirk (Michael Madsen) sends in a Black-Ops team led by Segar (Michele Ghersi) to securely extract Moshin Dewar (Mohamed Zouaoui) and his newest invention. Even if the film was low budget, I succeeded to convince the producer and involve music publisher, Jacques Dejean (“Plaza Mayor”), to get the Bulgarian Symphony Orchestra (60 musicians) for the main theme and for an action music piece composed by my friend Luigi Ferri, with whom I worked also on the Italian movie “Fratelli di sangue” (Brothers in blood). Sound engineer Marco Streccioni organized the sessions in Sofia and has many years of experience. I worked with him in many other film scores.
Int: Maestro Werba, your music it’s perfect for films. The delicate drama “Seguimi” (Follow me), by Claudio Sestieri, is a clear example. I could close my eyes and understand the events just listening to the music. You are like a painter, the musicians are your colours, and the film, musically-mute, your white canvas. The music starts and the first touch is given on that imaginary white canvas and then more and more. It’s a “crescendo” that, magically becomes the completed opera only at the very end. What are your secrets for creating soundtracks that visually depict scenes and actions?
Maestro Marco Werba: Thanks for the poetic analysis you made. “Seguimi” (In My Steps) is a new italian drama, but also a psychological erotic thriller. I worked a long time on the music, experimenting new sounds, mixed with cello solos performed by well-known US cellist, Tina Guo, who works with Hans Zimmer and many other composers. The sound of her cello added density and depth to the film score. With director Claudio Sestieri we have reflected upon the musical interventions, trying to limit them only to important scenes. There is therefore a balance and a well thought dosage of music. I believe that a professional composer should have a duty to seek perfection through a dialogue with the director and the analysis of the film. We recently screened ”Seguimi” at a first festival in Italy and we won a prize for best film, best actress (Angelique Cavallari) best script (Patrizia Pistagnesi), best photography (Gianni Mammolotti) and best music (Marco Werba). The CD has been published by Godwin Borg on “Kronos records”, a film music label that has already published the film scores of “Anita”, “Giallo” and “The inflicted”.
Int: Listening to some of your pieces for historical dramas like “Anita, a Life for Garibaldi”, directed by Aurelio Grimaldi (2008) and “Amore e Libertà, Masaniello” (Love of Freedom) directed by Angelo Antonucci (2001). Well…there is an atmosphere in both of them that brings me straight away to the wonderful aura portrayed by Gabriel García Márquez in “Love, in the time of Cholera” . There’s a sort of melancholic but at the same time energetic mood in your melodies… Might be your “Latin birth”?
Maestro Marco Werba: You’re right. “Anita” is set in Brazil 1839. Aninha Ribeira da Silva, called Anita, is a passionate 18-year girl, who dreams to leave the small town where she lived. Manuel, an aged craftsman, asks her to marry him and her mother persuades her to accept. While Anita sheds hot tears for that forced marriage a young Italian seaman, Giuseppe Garibaldi, who had been sentenced to death by the Genoa martial court, lands in Rio de Janeiro. Since the film was set in Brazil, I decided to use acoustic guitar, percussions and orchestra. The main music theme has a nostalgic/dramatic touch. Director Aurelio Grimaldi is also a musician, and we worked in full harmony on the music and then we worked together again on two other films (“Blood in Bahia’s hot” and “Controtempo”).“Amore e libertà, Masaniello” is a film based upon the true and tragic events, which took place in Naples in July 1647. The historical background are the misgovernment and fiscal oppression having aroused much discontent throughout the two Sicilies, at that time viceroyalty of the Spanish Kingdom. The population of Naples, exploited by the greedy viceroy, the Duke D’Arcos, lived in deepest misery and without any hope of altering their destiny until the appearance of Masaniello, a young, handsome and courageous fisherman. With the help of his friends and allies, known in jail he becomes the leader of the Neapolitan citizens during a violent riot beginning in the 7th of July. For this film, director Angelo Antonucci wanted a romantic music, because he imagined Masaniello as a romantic hero. In this film score, I succeeded to involve Academy Award winner Francis Lai, who won the Oscar for “Love Story”. With director Antonucci we went to meet him in his house in Paris and he accepted to write a love theme that I orchestrated and conducted with the Bulgarian orchestra, together with my music themes. The CD was published by CAM Music publishing company.
Int: thank you so much for all the exclusive tracks you gifted The Magazyne with and to be enjoyed by the readers! Among them there’s the theme of the thriller “Native” directed by John Real, for which the Foreign Press Association in Italy awarded you with the “Globo d’Oro” (Italian Golden Globe Award). It’s beautiful.. I would love to know more about it…!
Maestro Marco Werba: Thanks! “Native” is a horror/thriller filmed in Sicily, directed by John Real. I involved in the film score music publisher “Warner Chappell Italia” and we recorded the music in Skopje (Macedonia). I wrote a symphonic score and, with italian songwriter Franco Simone, we worked on a symphonic Titles song. The movie, the song and the film score won the italian “Golden Globes”. “Warner Chappell” published a rare promotional CD of this film score. Director John Real has a few historical film projects and we will probably work together on those projects. He is a young talented director.
Int: Many important Awards are gratifying your life. Just to mention some… the “Fantasy & Horror Cine Festival Award” in 2011, for the amazing film “Giallo” directed by worldwide renown Italian Horror & Thriller Film director Dario Argento and produced by the “Hannibal Pictures” in Los Angeles… or the recent prestigious “Colosseo D’Oro Award” received in October 2017 for the “Adagio for the Victims of Auschwitz”. Awards, emotions, happiness, difficulties, writing scores, stories to watch, meeting with directors and rehearsals with musicians, and much more.. How can you manage and organize efficiently all the aspects of your profession?
Maestro Marco Werba: Good question. It’s not easy. Public relations are very important. In the last seven years I have focused on United States and I have done a long job of strategic relations with US film productions. Now I finally have international projects in which I am involved. In Italy, without political connections, you need to work three times more to get results and you are forced to waste a lot of time to contact productions, send messages, make audio demos etc. I find it degrading to consider a composer just for being well connected, regardless of his artistic skills and talent.
Int: And most of all how can you remain yourself and leave in every single piece your identity, that is so clear in all of your pieces?
Maestro Marco Werba: Thank you very much. Although the musical influences can be many (also because it is important to know the music of other composers, analyze their method, to know how they started this path), we must maintain our own identity and have a style. Some people who have my CDs and know my works told me that they recognize my musical imprint. In some ways, therefore, there is a style, perhaps not yet perfectly outlined, but which represents my way of thinking a melody, a harmony and a orchestration. There are a few composers such as John Barry, Ennio Morricone, Nicola Piovani, Stelvio Cipriani who have a well-defined style that can be recognized from the first notes. Others, very good and prepared, but do not have a well-defined style.
Int: Your music gives a lot of importance and space to silence, to pauses to let the piece breath. What’s “silence” for you? And especially how important it is in your music?
Maestro Marco Werba: That’s a beautiful question. Really beautiful. No one has ever asked me this question. For me, silence is very important. I always try to convince directors to use less music in their films, enhancing the music that is present in the movie. I always do this example: caviar is a very rare refined food, but if you offer it in large quantities it will lose its value, it will no longer be a rarity, losing its charm and particular taste. In the same way, music must be inserted only in important scenes of the film and measured well. When a director like Dario Argento tells me he wants a lot of music in his film, I have to invent a solution, a compromise that can satisfy both of us. In “Giallo”, to lighten the presence of music, I put in place two different solutions. The first was to insert pauses within the “musical interventions”, in order to “breathe”. The second was to vary the orchestration to not always have the orchestra present. In the film there are six scenes of tortures and in each of these I changed music and orchestration. In one there is a vibration and a female sigh, in another a violas tremolo, in another a flute and a percussion etc. These two solutions allowed me to lighten the presence of music in order to not weigh down the film.
Int: And now Maestro Werba this wonderful journey into your life and music brings me to my favorite piece ever. I am talking about your “Adagio for the Victims of Auschwitz”, for which you won the prestigious “Colosseo D’Oro” (the Golden Colosseum) Award. The Adagio is so touching. It is a piece that could be dedicated, without hesitation, to all victims of racism and violence in the world. A piece of extreme courage, of insight painful participation, a piece of past history that unfortunately still reflects, too often, a sad present for many. Please share with us details and emotions behind this delicate creature of yours.
Maestro Marco Werba: Thank you very much. I worked for a very long time on this composition. We could say that it’s my “business card”, the composition that more than any other identifies my essence, my soul. This is my personal tribute to the Victims of Auschwitz.I imagined a survivor who is dragging towards the Auschwitz gate, after the liberation, to get out of that place of death, after years of imprisonment. While struggling along the path to the exit, memories reappear in his mind of dead bodies, screams, and the delirium experienced by millions of Jews, political prisoners and gypsies, locked up in the concentration camp. I started working on this composition when I was a student at the “Mannes College of Music” in New York, and it has been revised over the years up to the final version recorded in Hungary, with the Budapest Scoring Symphonic Orchestra conducted by Péter Pejtsik. The Music was published by Antonello Martina (”Soundiva Classical”) and is available for concerts and historical war movies.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ffz7M26ZxWU
Int: American film directors would adore your original texture and arrangements! Any foreign directors you would love to work with?
Maestro Marco Werba: Sure. I dream to work with directors such as Brian De Palma, Terrence Malick or Paul Verhoeven. I am in touch, since many years, with french director Patrice Leconte (who liked some of my works), but we didn’t have the chance to work together.
Int: What about genres? Is there any style you’d like to take on?
Maestro Marco Werba: Yes, I didn’t yet have the chance to work for an animation feature, a western, a war movie and a sci-fi movie. In 2018/2019 I have two western film projects and I am involved in a beautiful war movie in development called “The Devil’s Prophet” (Prophet of the Third Reich), about Hitler’s Jewish hypnotist who mistakenly taught him how to mesmerize the masses. The film will be directed by talented woman director Julia Pierrepont. The script is really beautiful.
Int: the music industry has always been very tough on a side, and on the other so difficult to be abandoned. It is said “once you meet the music, music is for life. Gives a lot and demands always for more”…..
Maestro Marco Werba: Sure. Music is my life. but my passion is the union between music and movies. This does not mean that I am not able to appreciate the music alone, but when it is joined to the scene of a film, and is in tune with the images, it becomes truly emotive.
Int: What mistakes would you recommend not to make to who is deciding now to start her or his career in the so competitive world of music?
Maestro Marco Werba: It is not easy to answer this question. I had some students of music courses, and a Masterclass in Film Music, and many people asked me the same question. The advice I can give is to start by contacting directors of short films and doing the classic apprenticeship (As many have done). Another way is to become an assistant of a professional composer, with many years of experience, to absorb his working method and the tricks of the trade.
Int: And of course, I can’t complete this interview, without asking you about your future projects. I’m very curious about them… Any exclusive news to share with TheMagazyne’s readers?? For example I would love to know more about the fantastic docu-fiction “The Mystery of Britannic” …
Maestro Marco Werba: I have a few interesting ambitious film projects such as “False Affairs” by Ian Glover, “The Rose in the Flame” by Joseph Lefevre, “The Sea Ghost“ by Ara Paiaya, “Redeath” by Antonio Baiocco, “Hell Town” by Luigi Parisi, but also more intimate films such as “Pop posta” and “Io resto così” by italian director Marco Pollini. “The Mystery of Britannic” is my first historical TV series. It was directed by Evgeny Tomashov and Sergey Veksler, produced by Anastasia Budykho (U-Film). It has unique underwater footage and alternates underwater images with historical reconstructions and flashbacks. The series tells the story of the magnificent British boat during World War I, used as a hospital ship and became a target of a German U-boat near the Greek shores.A 100-year-long mystery of the ship’s sinking by employing high-tech submersibles, unique equipment and the international team of researchers, lead by Richie Kohler, a technical diver and famous underwater explorer. The additional music was written by Giacomo Del Colle Lauri Volpi and Marco Cucco.
Int: Maestro Werba, not only you create Unique Soundtracks but I see you also are a pianist virtuoso. What about future concerts?
Maestro Marco Werba: With italian singer, Valentina D’Antoni, I have a repertoire of well-known international film music themes for piano and voice of various composers (James Horner, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Francis Lai, Nino Rota, Ennio Morricone, Nicola Piovani). We already did a few concerts in Italy and Spain and we would love to make a concert in United States.