×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Byrne scores big ‘Albert Nobbs’

Eye on the Oscars: Song & Score

Calling “Albert Nobbs” Brian Byrne’s big break might be overstating the case, but not by much. “It was a dream project,” Byrne says of the Glenn Close starrer that is his biggest scoring assignment to date. “I still can’t believe I got asked to do it.”

A pet project of Close’s (she co-wrote the script and acted as producer), the Rodrigo Garcia-helmed pic tells the story of a 19th-century woman who spends decades as a starchy butler in a Dublin hotel.

Byrne — who has alternated between orchestrator, arranger and composer on various projects before tackling this, his first major feature — says he wanted his music to serve the period and support Garcia’s subtle directorial approach.

“There’s so many upstairs-downstairs moments in the film, but there’s also serious stuff,” Byrne maintains. “I didn’t want it to be sentimental, and Rodrigo agreed. I wanted to get the gig right and not get fired — I’m new on the block and every job is your last, pretty much.”

The composer opted for a traditional melodic orchestral score with a distinctive imprint. “I didn’t want it to be too flamboyant,” he says. “I knew it had to be Irish, but I didn’t want it to be cheesy. I didn’t want it to sound just old. And I thought I’d use the harp, because it has connotations of Ireland.”

Though Byrne’s score also features piano and harpsichord (both of which he plays on the soundtrack), harp was the indispensable instrument here.

“To me the harp is essentially Albert — both male and female,” he says. “The harp is in every film score you’ll ever hear, but it’s usually supporting the strings. It’s not usually presented as a solo instrument. I thought it would be a sort of mystical sound, if I could make it work.”

He dispensed with horns and flutes, for fear of making his music too ornate.

“There’s so much detail in this film that if you cloud it up with too much in the orchestration, it will just get in the way,” Byrne says. “Less is more. I’m also a jazz musician, and when you think about doing that big lick in jazz, don’t do it — leave the space. I apply that principle to the writing of film scores, too.”

Eye on the Oscars: Song & Score
Are acad rules out of synch? | ‘Muppety’ but not too ‘Flighty’ | Pinch hitter | Elizabethan notes culled from rubble | Utility player orchestrates ‘Miracle’ | Powell animated by quartet of pix | Animal, mineral mix in ‘Apes’ score | Gregson-Williams relishes the chase | Byrne scores big ‘Albert Nobbs’ | O’Connor in tune with ‘Albert Nobbs’

More Film

  • Glass trailer

    'Glass': Five Box Office Takeaways From M. Night Shyamalan's Thriller

    With his fifth No. 1 box office opening, M. Night Shyamalan has plenty to celebrate. “Glass,” the conclusion to a trilogy that consists of the 2000 cult hit “Unbreakable” and 2016’s box office sensation “Split,” topped the box office last weekend — though its win comes with a few caveats. James McAvoy reprised his role [...]

  • Berlin: Patra Spanou Picks Up Panorama

    Berlin: Patra Spanou Picks Up Panorama Title 'Family Members' (EXCLUSIVE)

    Patra Spanou has picked up world sales rights to “Los miembros de la familia” (Family Members), which will world premiere in the Berlin Film Festival’s Panorama section. Variety has been given an exclusive first look of the film’s trailer. The film is the second feature from writer/director Mateo Bendesky, and is produced by Agustina Costa [...]

  • Great Point Media, The Development Partnership

    Great Point Media, The Development Partnership Join Forces on Slate of Movies

    Great Point Media and The Development Partnership, the development and production arm of the talent agency the Artists Partnership, are joining forces to develop, package, and co-produce multiple films, kicking off with three projects, including “Chasing Agent Freegard,” starring James Norton (“War & Peace”). “Chasing Agent Freegard,” which is being produced by “Captain Phillips” co-producer [...]

  • Berlin: FiGa Acquires ‘Landless,’ Drops ‘Hormigas’

    Berlin: FiGa Acquires ‘Landless,’ Drops ‘Hormigas’ Trailer (EXCLUSIVE)

    Sandro Fiorin’s Miami-based FiGa Films, a leading sales agent on the independent Latin American scene, has announced the acquisition of Brazilian doc “Landless,” and released a trailer for the Costa Rican-Spanish drama “El despertar de las hormigas.” Both features will play at this year’s Berlinale Forum and come from young Latin American filmmakers making their [...]

  • Ryan Reynolds Cancels Arm Surgery to

    Ryan Reynolds Cancels Arm Surgery to Promote 'Deadpool 2' in China

    Ryan Reynolds canceled surgery on his arm to fly to China and charm “Deadpool” fans in Beijing on Sunday ahead of the franchise’s unexpected China theatrical debut. Just last week, Fox suddenly announced that a re-cut, PG-13 “Deadpool 2” would hit Chinese theaters starting this Friday – the first time the notoriously blood-splattered and foul-mouthed [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content