John Mansell: Where and when were you born? Marco Werba: I was born in Madrid, Spain July 27 1963.
John Mansell: What musical education did you undertake, and did you specialise in any particular field? Marco Werba: I did study piano and harmony in Italy, composition and film music at the Mannes College of Music in New York and conducting in France. As a teacher I created a summer workshop, here in Italy, to teach how to write a film score.
John Mansell: Do you conduct all of your music for film? Marco Werba: Not always. It depends if the orchestra that is going to perform the music already has a conductor or not. For example for the music of A DIO PIACENDO (God’s Will), the Pantheon orchestra had a regular conductor (Cristina Cimagalli). Usually for the recording sessions of a film score I use musians of a musical company, not a official orchestra. For the music of ZOO, I had a few musicians of the Santa Cecilia Orchestra (one of the best orchestras in Italy). I am not really satisfied with the musicians that usually perform film scores in the recording studios. The quality of the performance is not always the same. My dream is to work, one day, with the London Symphony Orchestra.
John Mansell: Was it always your intention to write music for film? Marco Werba: Yes, because since I was a child I loved Cinema. When I was 14/15 years old I directed a few Super 8 short films using film scores of well known composers (John Williams, Jerry Goldsmith). One day I saw a science fiction movie called LOGAN’S RUN, which I loved, and went to see it two more times. Suddenly I realized that there was a wonderful musical score written by Jerry Goldsmith, both symphonic and electronic. I then found the LP of the soundtrack and I started to study music thinking that one day I’ll become myself a film music composer!
John Mansell: What was your first scoring assignment and how did this come about? Marco Werba: My first film score assignment was ZOO, directed by Cristina Comencini with Asia Argento (at that time she was 13 years old!). I got the job because I sent to Cristina Comencini by mail a short adagio for strings called “the survivors”. She liked it and called me. She wanted to use classical music and a few original themes. I ended up writing 40 minutes of music and we used just a few minutes of a composition by Ravel (Ma Mere l’Oye) and one by Debussy (Jeux).
John Mansell: What has been the biggest orchestra you have worked with on a film score? Marco Werba: The biggest orchestra I used so far was the Bulgarian Symphony Orchestra SIF 309, that I recorded in Sofia, with a Italian sound engineer called Marco Streccioni. I conducted the orchestra and I had just two recording sessions to record 45 minutes of music! So I didn’t have time to work on the quality of the performance but the artistic level of the orchestra was good. I just had a few problems of intonation with the cellos section. This film sore performed by the Bulgarian Orchestra has been written for the Italian historical picture AMORE E LIBERTA, MASANIELLO (Love and Freedom), about the tragic events that took place in Naples during the summer of 1680 (17th Century). The music is now available through the internet web site Hitunes or the CAM original film scores web site.
John Mansell: A number of your scores have been issued on Hexacord records, do you enjoy a special relationship with this soundtrack label? Marco Werba: Yes, I have known Roberto Zamori of HEXACORD since 1988, when I had my first film music concert performing the theme of ZOO. Zamori loved the film score of IL CONTE DI MELISSA (another historical picture about the Italy of the 17th Century, starring John D’Aquino). He published the CD of IL CONTE DI MELISSA, ZOO (the complete film score) and IL DIARIO DI UN PRETE. The Hexacord Film music label will release in November my new film score of the up coming film DARKNESS SURROUNDS ROBERTA.
John Mansell: What composers would you say have influenced you the most? Marco Werba: John Williams and Jerry Goldsmith. I had the pleasure of meeting Jerry Goldsmith in Rome and to be his assistant during the recording sessions of LEVIATHAN. He has to have been one of the best film music composers. John Williams is probably one of the other composers I would rate very high on my list, he is so professional! He has also written several compositions for the concert-hall, which have been performed all over the world. There are many other composers working in film today that simple do not have the talent or the originality that Goldsmith and Williams posses. The music of THE OMEN and BASIC INSTINCT by Goldsmith and the music of THE FURY and MEMORIES OF A GEISHA are masterpieces. Christopher Young is probably one of the best of the new generation of film music composers working today.
John Mansell: Do you orchestrate all of your own music, or do you at times use an orchestrator? Marco Werba: I never used a orchestrator for a film score but if, in the future, I will work for a Hollywood production, I will love to collaborate with one or more orchestrators. When you have to use a symphonic orchestra of 80 musicians and you have three weeks to write all the music, you need to use orchestrators! I think that the only composers that never used orchestrators were Bernard Herrmann and Ennio Morricone.
John Mansell: How long do you normally get to score a movie; for example ZOO? Marco Werba: Normally film productions ask to the composer to write the music when the editing is almost complete and they give only three weeks to write, orchestrate and record the music. For the film ZOO I was involved from the pre-production before starting filming. So I had a lot of time to write the three main themes (ZOO, MARTINA’S THEME and RATTI’S THEME). When the editing was complete I started to calculate the timing of the sequences and to orchestrate the music.
John Mansell: When working on a project do you have a routine in which you progress, i.e. from start to end or maybe small cues first concentrating on larger cues later? Marco Werba: This is very good question. I usually try to write short musical ideas and themes that could have the right mood for the film. Then I start to develop the musical ideas until I got a musical theme that has it’s own personality and could become the main theme of the film or of the main character.
John Mansell: What is your opinion of the state of film music today worldwide? Marco Werba: The problem is always the same; money! The budget for the original film score is each time “smaller”. This is why I am trying to get in touch with film productions in Los Angeles. I think that in 2008 I will succeed to write the music of a American feature film but not yet a Hollywood production. I have two interesting independent American productions that want to collaborate with me.
John Mansell: How do you arrive at your musical solutions; by this I mean do you use piano, synth etc to work your ides through? Marco Werba: Yes, I start writing themes using the piano and then I orchestrate it using my MAC with a music software. The computer is useful for two reasons: you can make demos with digital samplings to let hear to directors how would be the orchestration of the music, and you can print the score and the single parts for the orchestra.
John Mansell: Have you ever had a score rejected, or indeed decided not to accept an assignment? Marco Werba: No, I had no scores rejected (fortunately!) but it happened that I didn’t collaborate with a director because I could not understand what kind of music he wanted or we didn’t have the same musical sensibility or he didn’t have talent but was just pretending something that couldn’t work with the film.
John Mansell: Have you given any concerts of your film music?
Marco Werba: Yes but not so often. I usually perform film music piano concerts. Sometimes I made concerts with a string quartet, piano and voice or a chamber orchestra. In the concerts I usually do not perform only my compositions, but also film scores of Nino Rota, Ennio Morricone, Nicola Piovani, Michael Nyman, Andrew L. Webber, Francis Lai.
John Mansell: What films or projects have you been working on recently? Marco Werba: I wrote the music of another historical picture called ANITA, performed by a chamber orchestra and recorded at the Forum Music Village (the studio where Ennio Morricone records his film scores). I just finished to record the music of the thriller DARKNESS SURROUNDS ROBERTA, a co-production between Italy, Germany and United States. I wrote a theme for the up coming horror film THE OCEAN by Dante Tomaselli and I will write some of the music of COLOUR FROM THE DARK, from a novel by Lovecraft.( I also wrote a theme for the German horror film FEARMAKERS). In the new CD that the HEXACORD label will release there will be three film scores (Darkness surrounds Roberta, Fearmakers and The Ocean). The CD THE HORROR FILM WORLD OF MARCO WERBA should be ready by November 20.
John Mansell: We look forward to it’s release – many thanks to Maestro Marco Werba for his time and patience.
Interview from the site www.littlewhitelies.co.ukmarcowerba2023-11-12T14:34:35+01:00
Madrid born composer Marco Werba is the man responsible for scoring Dario Argento’s latest blood-soaked opus, Giallo. Werba is no stranger to horror, however, having provided the music for other genre pictures, including several by leading German underground horror director, Timo Rose. Not just confining himself to horror, Werba has enhanced the visuals of many genres including historical epics and intimate dramas. His work veers from the broodingly theatrical to melodic fragility. Not only a distinguished composer of film scores, he has also had the honour of composing and conducting music for the Pope. Werba’s music always adds a touch of classic elegance and grandeur to proceedings.
LWLies: Can you tell me a little about your background and how you became involved with music?
Werba: When I was 14 or 15-years-old I wanted to become a film director. I made a few Super 8 short films, one of which, I Robot Assassini, was invited to a science-fiction festival in Italy. Then I saw the film Logan’s Run by Michael Anderson and started to realise and understand the power of music in film. Logan’s Run was scored by the great composer Jerry Goldsmith and was comprised of electronic compositions for the sequences inside the city of the future, and symphonic for the scenes outside the city. I thought that this was a very good choice. I began to realise that I wanted to become a film composer and so I studied music in Italy and at the Mannes College of Music in New York.
LWLies: How did you become involved with scoring films?
Werba: In 1987 I wrote a composition called ‘Atomic: The Survivors‘. I recorded it with a chamber orchestra and sent it to a few directors that had films in pre-production. Director Cristina Comencini called me to say that she liked my composition and wanted me to write the music for her first film, Zoo.
LWLies: What sort of procedure do you follow for composing scores for films?
Werba: I read the script and start to write one or two music themes that fit the mood of the story. Then, when there is a rough cut of the film, I try to understand if the music works with the images or not.
LWLies: Who have been your most significant influences and inspirations? Are there any particular film scores that you deeply admire?
Werba: My influences come from American composers such as Bernard Herrmann, John Williams, Jerry Goldsmith, and French composers like Georges Delerue, Philippe Sarde, Francis Lai. Also Italian composers such as Mario Nascimbene, Nino Rota, Ennio Morricone, Pino Donaggio and Polish composers like Zbigniew Preisner – his music for The Double Life of Veronique is excellent.
It’s difficult to say which specific film scores I deeply admire. There are many good compositions for films. I would say that each composer has his own best film scores. John Williams wrote wonderful music for Brian De Palma’s thriller The Fury, but it’s not a well-known score. Philippe Sarde wrote beautiful scores for Tess and Stella; both were performed by the London Symphony Orchestra. I love the compositions by Philip Glass for Notes on a Scandal and The Illusionist and Michael Nyman’s efficacious scores for The Draughtsman’s Contract and The Piano. His minimalist style, mixed with classical influences such as Purcell and Mozart gives a special flavour to his film scores.
LWLies: You have worked quite a lot within the horror genre recently – is there something about scoring music to accompany dark and disturbing imagery that appeals to you?
Werba: Yes, I think that the music written for science-fiction films, thrillers and horror films is very important and can help the film involve the audience emotionally. The tension in a film comes from the silence, the sound-effects and the music. Since I was a little child, I have enjoyed watching science-fiction and horror films.
LWLies: How did you come to work with Dario Argento on his latest film Giallo?
Werba: Producer Richard Rionda Del Castro asked me to send him some of my compositions. I sent him a few pieces from Darkness Surrounds Roberta and Colour from the Dark, two low-budget horror films, and he liked them. I then wrote a specific theme for Giallo and a suspense sequence. I recorded the music with high quality orchestral samplings. He sent a copy of my music demos to Adrian Brody, who is also producing the film, and he enjoyed them so much he sent a message to Dario Argento saying that I was the number one candidate. After one week I received a message to say I had been chosen to score Giallo. Dario already knew me as we had met on the set of Zoo and he came to a party of mine years ago. He invited me to his home where we watched a complete cut of Giallo.
LWLies: How did you set about scoring the music for Giallo, and how aware of Argento’s previous films were you?
Werba: I’ve seen all the previous Dario Argento films. I think that his best film is Profondo Rosso. For me, the Argento films with most interesting scores are The Bird with the Crystal Plumage by Ennio Morricone, Profondo Rosso and Suspiria by Goblin, and Inferno by Keith Emerson.
LWLies: How closely did you work with the director and was there anything in particular you did to prepare for scoring this film?
Werba: We met several times to discuss the music for Giallo. I offered to write a symphonic score in a similar vein to Bernard Herrmann because Giallo is a great film that reminds me of the masterpieces of Alfred Hitchcock and Brian De Palma. Herrmann not only composed for Hitchcock, he also wrote the music for two of the best De Palma films, Sisters and Obsession.
LWLies: How do you think your score for this film differs from previous Argento film scores?
Werba: The music of Giallo is completely different from the previous scores of Argento films. I used just a few electronic sounds, a bass vibration close to John Carpenter’s electronic compositions, and a few samplings. I recorded the sound of a knife but Dario didn’t want to use it. The rest of the music is much more orchestral and close to the John Williams and Danny Elfman kind of film scores. I thought that Giallo was a good classic thriller and needed symphonic music. As much as I like the previous compositions by Goblin for the likes of Profondo Rosso and Suspiria, I thought that sort of style would not fit the mood of Giallo.
LWLies: You have collaborated with the Vatican choir and participated in events attended by such dignitaries as President Carlo Azeglio Ciampi, the Nobel Award winner Mikhail Gorbachev and Pope John Paul II. How would you describe these experiences?
Werba: I sung in the Vatican choir, Cappella Giulia, conducted by Pablo Colino for about 15 years. It has been an interesting experience that gave me the chance to absorb the Gregorian chants and the sacred music. A totally different experience from my film scores. I wrote a short composition called Canto al Vangelo which was performed during a celebration with Pope John Paul II.
LWLies: How do you balance out your involvement with events such these and scoring music for films? Is there a difference in how you approach your compositions for each?
Werba: I try to use the same music style when I write concert music and when I write music for films. Nino Rota had the same style when he was writing symphonies or chamber works as well as film scores. Ennio Morricone however has a different approach. He writes much more dissonant pieces for the concert hall than for films. When I write a composition that has to be performed in a concert I usually write a piece that will last at least six minutes. Sometimes I re-use fragments of my film scores in my concert-hall compositions. The two different music elements, mixed with new material and expanded, become something new.
LWLies: How would you describe your music for films? Do you have a particular style? How has your music developed over the years?
Werba: It’s a good question. I think that I do have a style. Roberto Zamori, who has published most of my film scores on his film music label Hexacord, says that he recognises my style at once. Compared to my very first film score for Zoo, I can see an evolution regarding my style; I went from intimate and delicate chamber compositions to more symphonic ones. The music for Giallo reflects a style that I have developed through the years, going from dramatic and historical pictures like Zoo, Amore e libertà, Masaniello and Anita, to thriller and horror films such as Darkness Surrounds Roberta and Fearmakers.
LWLies: What ideas and themes capture your imagination most as an artist?
Werba: I love films with underwater sequences, like Jaws and Piranha. I would love to write the music for the upcoming adaptation of Steve Alten’s Meg, and the remake of Piranha. Science-fiction stories also open my imagination. It’s interesting to understand what could happen to humanity in the future and to imagine how our lives could change in a few years. Science-fiction gives the possibility of writing an epic and very modern symphonic/electronic film score.
LWLies: How do you know when a composition is finished?
Werba: This is another good question. I’m a perfectionist. I work a lot on a composition until I am fully satisfied.
LWLies: What are the challenges that you face when composing music for films? And in your opinion, what are the rewards?
Werba: To me is important that the music I write fits the mood of the film and the emotional feelings of the characters. I like to synchronise music with images. The challenge is to find the right music of each film that I have to score and to know that the director is satisfied. It’s great to see a film with your music synchronised with the picture, enhancing emotions for the audience.
LWLies: Do you have any personal highlights from the last couple of years? What does the future hold for you?
Werba: The last Italian film score that I composed before Giallo, was for Anita, a historical picture set during the civil war in Brazil, in 1839. The film is directed by Aurelio Grimaldi. The CD will be published by Godwin Borg, who I met in Spain a few years ago, on his new label Kronos Records. Recently I also wrote the first part of a requiem that will be used in another historical picture The Gentile Affair, directed by Ugo Frosi. The film is about the philosopher Giovanni Gentile who was killed in Italy by one of his ex-students during World War II. This year I am also writing music for a new horror film called Braincell, filmed in Liverpool.
Interview from the site www.drgoresfunhouse.commarcowerba2023-11-12T14:44:37+01:00
Spanish-born Marco Werba has enjoyed considerable acclaim over recent years as the composer of various Italian productions, most notably Dario Argento’s 2009 thriller Giallo. Born in Madrid and graduating from New York’s Mannes College of Music in 1982, Werba’s first break came seven years later with Zoo, in which he would receive the Colonna Sonora – Lifetime Achievement Award. Having collaborated with the Philharmonic Roman Academy and the Vatican choir, Werba has worked with such filmmakers as Maurizio Anania and Angelo Antonucci, whilst his next feature, Native, is set for release later this year.
Marco Werba talks about the role that the composer plays in the creation of a movie…
Do you have a specific routine that you go through when you are first hired to compose a score for a movie? How do you envision what kind of music belongs with the images on screen?
“It’s not really a routine. I try to understand the psychology of the characters and try to find a music theme that can be in harmony with the spirit of the movie. This theme somehow needs to capture the plot, the nature of the characters and the director’s style. What is time – consuming the most, is the synchrony with the images, in order to syntonize to perfection, music and images, underlining the most important synchronous moments. In Dario Argento’s Giallo, the music follows each detail of the action, becoming so an accomplice of the director in communicating statuses of emotive tension and accentuating twists. In my new work, that I’m about to complete for the thriller Native, I have composed a very sophisticated kind of music; going from a symphonic orchestra over an experimental Avant-garde electronic music up to a melodious song for the final credits, performed by the famous singer Franco Simone. I recorded the film score with the Radio Symphony Orchestra F.A.M.E. of Skopje (Macedonia).”
What was your background prior to working in the film industry? Had you already gained experience in other fields and how did you come to write the music for movies?
“My interest to the cinema came at the age of fourteen, when I started shooting short films on Super 8. So it was predictable that, after having studied composition at the Mannes College of Music of New York, I would have dedicated myself to the composition of music for films. But I did music in other areas, too: I have sung for twenty years in the choir of the Cappella Giulia of the Vatican and have composed concert music.”
So far, you have predominantly worked in the Italian industry. How collaborative are the filmmakers and do they usually have a clear idea of what kind of score they want?
“That is a good question. With some directors, one can manage to work in total harmony, intuiting the style of music they are looking for. With others, this gets more complicated. With Cristina Comencini, Aurelio Grimaldi, Dario Argento and John Real, the collaboration was very interesting and has led to great results.”
What kind of musicians do you work with when recording the music for a film and what is the largest ensemble you have collaborated with?
“I have recorded in Rome with musicians that are used to record film scores, but also in Sofia with the Bulgarian Symphony Orchestra and in Macedonia with the Radio orchestra of Skopje. I have to say that the level of the musicians in Italy is not very high. The only orchestra to guarantee a high artistic level is the Orchestra dell Accademia Nazionale di S. Cecilia, but the costs are rather high and it’s therefore often convenient to go abroad to record the music of a film. It’s my dream to record one day in London with the London Symphony Orchestra. The biggest orchestra I have worked with until now has been the Bulgarian Symphony Orchestra, with an instrumental ensemble of forty-five musicians that I used for the film Amore e libertà, Masaniello (Love of Freedom).”
Are you conscious of when a scene would work best without music and do have you had conflict with a director before over how dramatic a specific piece of music should be?
“This is a very interesting question. Usually, the directors are afraid of silence and therefore tend to use too much music in a film. I also had to convince Dario Argento not to use music in the beginning of a scene, just leaving the sound of the water of a shower that could be heard from distance. In a thriller, silence can cause more fear than music. In John Real’s new film, Native, I alternated sound effects and music with moments of silence. Just a few seconds of silence before a twist can be extremely effective.”
When composing, are you usually given the entire film to work from or do you receive the footage as it is being edited?
“The real work starts when you get the entirely edited version of the film. Before this, you can just create the main music themes that are aligned with the various scenes afterwards.”
Which of your scores to date are you most proud of and do you try to experiment and push boundaries with each project?
“Each project is a challenge. Composing the music of a film is very difficult and requires a lot of work, concentration and passion. The scores that I’m affectioned to the most are, surely, the first; Zoo by Cristina Comencini (I got the Award Colonna Sonora for it), the music of the costume drama Amore e libertà, Masaniello, the one for Giallo by Dario Argento (I received three awards for) and the last one, that I composed for John Real’s thriller, Native. I will soon work on the music of the action/thriller The Driver, produced by Connie Lamothe and directed by Todd Wolfe.”
Intwerviews from the site www.themagazyne.commarcowerba2023-11-12T14:49:54+01:00
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.
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