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The tuneful tramp: the forgotten musical genius of Charlie Chaplin

He rubbed shoulders with Stravinsky and dreamed up beautiful film scores in his sleep. So why don’t we know more about Chaplin’s love affair with song?

It might seem odd to claim that one of the most universally popular entertainers in the world is underrated. But Charlie Chaplin is. Not necessarily as a comedian, actor or director, but as a composer. Most people know the themes Smile, Eternally, and This Is My Song, but they probably don’t know that Chaplin wrote them – for Modern Times, Limelight and A Countess from Hong Kong, respectively. Film buffs might know that from 1931’s City Lights onwards, he composed the scores for all of his films, and that as an old man he wrote new music for his earlier films. Yet he is never mentioned in talk of the great film composers, and in a recent Radio Times poll of top film themes, Chaplin’s name was nowhere to be seen.

That might change this year. Many of the celebrations marking the 130th anniversary of Chaplin’s birth are focused on his music. His passion for music began as a young boy when he heard a tune with harmonica and clarinet in a pub in Kennington, south London, as he wrote in a 1922 memoir My Trip Abroad: “Its beauty was like some sweet mystery … I only knew that I loved it and I became reverent as the sounds carried themselves through my brain via my heart.”

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Source: The Guardian – The tuneful tramp: the forgotten musical genius of Charlie Chaplin

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