Laura Rossi composer

Laura Rossi

Composer Laura Rossi on her love of early silent film and her growing appetite for madcap musical projects...

Anita Awbi
  • By Anita Awbi
  • 1 Mar 2016
  • min read
Laura Rossi is a London-based composer. When she isn’t creating scores for brilliantly obscure black and white films exhumed by the BFI, or writing music for some of British telly’s favourite dramas, she’s cooking up ludicrously ambitious live projects.

Her latest venture is the Somme100 Film international initiative, which will mark the 100th anniversary of the Battle of the Somme and run from July 2016 to July 2017.

If successful in her mission, Laura will oversee 100 screenings of the iconic World War One documentary The Battle of the Somme with performances of her accompanying score at venues around the UK and beyond.

She is calling on professional, amateur and youth orchestras to take part in the tour and help the documentary reach audiences on a national scale.

Laura has received help and support from the Imperial War Museum, which will be offering the film free of charge to those who want to screen it. Faber Music Publishing is also offering discount musical hire fees for the score. See below for more info on how to get involved.

We chatted to her at the recent launch of the PRS for Music Foundation’s Composers’ Fund to learn more about her love of silent film and her penchant for taking on crazy projects...

When did you first discover you wanted to create music?
Ever since I was really little. I’ve always liked creating things.

Was there something in particular that triggered it?
My dad is a pianist and my mum is a singer. We were always making music at home so I guess it grew from that.

When did it cross over from something you enjoyed doing at home to something more serious?
Maybe when I was in the sixth form. I used to play in the big band and wrote a piece for it. That was quite an exciting moment for me and I knew then I wanted to continue down that path.

What’s the journey been like so far?
I studied music at Liverpool University and then did a Masters in film music, mainly because I love writing music and I love watching films. It was the perfect combination for me! From that I scored a few short films and went on to do feature films. It’s all grown from there.

What tools do you need around you to write?
Personally I’m quite old fashioned, so I like to work at the piano with a pencil and paper. I need a silent space that I can call my own – that for me is really important. Right now, I’m trying to organise a big tour of the Battle of the Somme. I wrote some music for a film of actual footage from the First World War. As it’s the centenary I’m putting together 100 orchestral performances around the UK and beyond. I’ve been quite busy working on that lately.

As a composer, how much of your time gets taken up by the business end?
A lot. I’ve grown into writing film music and really love doing that. But I’ve realised that I just love writing and it doesn’t have to be for film so I’m trying to broaden out and create my own projects. In a way, you have to create your own projects and find collaborative people to work with. You need to work hard not to be typecast.

We’re here to celebrate the Composers’ Fund launch – what would help you to get on in your career?
Finding people from different art forms to work with. I’d love to work with dance, theatre, ballet, poetry – and I think that’s true of many composers. You don’t just want to be on your own writing music, you want to be inspired by everyday things and other artists. Anything which can help with that would be great.

Do you have specific work patterns? Do you need a deadline?
I love working to deadlines – I’ve had a lot of practice when writing film music, where there are ridiculous deadlines! If I haven’t got a specific project, I usually create one and give myself a deadline. I need the end product in mind. I find it quite difficult to just write for writing’s sake. I have to know it’s going to be a real thing.

You mention your love of film and music. Where for you does it all come together perfectly?
Ennio Morricone is my favourite composer and his score for Cinema Paradiso. I love the way his music perfectly sums up the emotions of each scene. His music really stands up away from the film. It’s creatively brilliant in every way.

You’re into scoring silent films that the BFI revives. Why do you think it’s an important endeavour?
It’s amazing to revive something that’s so old, give it some new music and make it work for an audience today. As a composer, I love to work on a feature film within a team, but it is equally nice to then get a silent film where you’re given the freedom to write whatever you want but still be inspired by the images.

How’s your Battle of the Somme project coming along?
We’ve already got more than 50 orchestras signed up, which is amazing. There’s been so much interest in this, I guess because of the Battle of the Somme is at the centre of the centenary commemorations. We’ve still got a lot of venues looking for orchestras, so it’s looking good, but we need more orchestras to get involved.

Please visit for more details and to sign up to the project.

Laura Rossi is a PRS for Music Foundation-supported composer.