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As recounted in Mervyn Cooke's A History of Film Music (2008), the film has two musical scores. The first was written by Sir William Walton, then in his late 60s, and conducted by Malcolm Arnold, who also assisted Walton with the orchestration - notably the music accompanying the Blitz sequences, and some sections of "Battle in the Air", which may have involved some compositional "patches" by Arnold. Aside from the undoubted originality and impact of "The Battle in the Air" sequence, and an opening march (conducted at the sessions by Walton) which was described by a journalist present at its recording as "a grand patriotic tune to out-type and out-glory any that Sir William has yet written, whether for films or coronations", much of Walton's score involves parodies of the horncall from Wagner's Siegfried. However, Arnold and David Picker - the brothers in charge of United Artists - insisted on having the music tracks sent to them in New York; their verdict on hearing the music, unaccompanied by the film, was that it was unsuitable and that a composer known to them should be hired to write a replacement score. The music department at United Artists furthermore objected that the score was too short to fill an LP recording which was intended to be marketed with the film. As a result, John Barry - who had scored several James Bond films - was approached, but he declined. The job was finally accepted by Ron Goodwin, who also served as conductor. Producer S. Benjamin Fisz and actor Sir Laurence Olivier protested against this decision, and Olivier threatened to take his name from the credits. In the end, one segment of the Walton score, "Battle in the Air", which depicted the climactic air battles of 15 September 1940, was retained in the final cut, as well as a few bars of his March rather clumsily edited into the final scene before the credits roll. The Walton score was played with no sound effects of aircraft engines or gunfire, giving the "Battle" sequence a transcendent, lyrical quality.
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