Genre: Ensemble work for silent film

Description: A complete score to the famous silent film Strike (1924) by the Soviet director Sergei Eisenstein. For ensemble 1 flute (=piccolo), 1 b-flat clarinet (=clarinet in a), 1 horn in f, 1 trumpet in b-flat (=trumpet in c), 1 percussion, 1 piano, 1 violoncello, 1 double bass, plus electronic sound (pre-recorded, four channel)
Duration: 88 Minutes
Date: 2006

Programme Note

Strike (1924) was Sergei Eisenstein’s first major silent film. Although less well known than Battleship Potemkin (1925) the film includes several often cited experiments with montage. The climax of the film is in the final reel, when the czarist soldiers chase the striking workers back to their tenements, and then pursue them to their deaths in a brutal massacre.

I have written this score as a companion piece to my earlier score to Battleship Potemkin, which uses identical instrumentation. I have aimed at capturing and underlining the vitality and energy of Eisenstein’s film language and the way in which he tells the story in a series of six ‘acts’. In each part tensions rise, beginning with a relatively trivial case of injustice, which is then traced through to the final apocalyptic scene of oppression.


I am interested in sharp contrasts between prepared electronic sound and live acoustic sound. I believe that a ‘dialectical’ use of these musical elements can make Eisenstein’s montage technique clearer and more accessible by highlighting its non-naturalistic approach. Therefore, in this score, the cutting between visual elements in several scenes is supported by a similar sharp cutting between acoustic and electronic motifs.

In Hughes’s music...there is a perfect fit with the films, with incidental sounds such as the factory whistle in Strike skilfully incorporated into the musical line. Potemkin was first shown with Hughes’ music at an unforgettable performance in 2005 in the machine hall of the Brighton Engineerium, which provided a uniquely suitable site for it. A similarly happy match between film and music runs through these two superb scores.
— Laura Marcus, Goldsmiths' Professor of English Literature; Fellow, New College, Oxford