Adolescence is often filled with tales of woe. I can remember sitting in the Hoyts Midcity Cinema in the early 1980’s with tears welling up in my eyes as Sigrid Thornton played, or pretended to play, Jessica’s theme in The Man From Snowy River. Weeping in a movie was highly unusual for a boy in his late teens, especially when it was just a person playing a piano that caused such an emotional response. The humiliation of a row of high school students jeering, ‘look at him! He’s crying’, stays with you for some time.
Who would have imagined, some 30 years later, I would again shed a tear induced by the very same piece of music, this time however, played not by an actor, but by the composer himself…Bruce Rowland! The tears were the same. The humiliation I felt as a high school student was replaced with elation and an overwhelming sense that I was privileged to be in the presence of genius.
I am sure Bruce would be the first to say that ‘genius’ is a bit over the top. However, when you consider his body of work over the years, I can’t think of another word that does him justice.
The music Bruce composed (in only three weeks!) for The Man From Snowy River is so timeless in its appeal and has become so strongly etched in our musical psyche that there is a tendency to forget that this is now a thirty year old work and was, in fact Bruce’s first score for a feature film. Ask Bruce what he’s most proud of and he’ll tell you, “it’s not the Man From Snowy River, it’s my most recent work.”
At the risk of appearing to be clinging to the past, we couldn’t resist asking Bruce to play Jessica’s theme. Bruce graciously agreed and given that every budding pianist at some time plays Jessica’s theme (there are countless versions on YouTube) you simply can’t beat seeing and hearing it played by the person who created it! Watch the video below and hear Bruce describe how he composed Jessica’s Theme.
Bruce and his wife Maria have lived in the Yarra Valley for over 40 years. Due to work commitments in the United States Bruce also spends time in Los Angeles where he has a house and studio.
Bruce and Maria enjoy many of the restaurants and wineries in the Yarra Valley. If you would like Bruce’s recommendations for his Top 3 places to visit – here they are…
Some of Bruce’s awards include:
- AFI Award – Best Score: The Man From Snowy River (1982)
- AFI Award – Best Score: Phar Lap (1983)
- AFI Award – Best Score: Rebel (1985)
- APRA Award – Best Score: The Man From Snowy River (1984)
- APRA Award – Best Score: Phar Lap (1985)
- APRA Award – Best Score: Return to Snowy River (1989)
- APRA Award – Best Score: The Mysterious Geographic Explorations of Jasper Morello (2005)
- APRA Award – International Achievement Award (2005)
- ARIA Award – The Man From Snowy River Arena Spectacular (2003)