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The Music of Avonlea

Posted: Fri Jul 29, 2005 8:10 pm
by Annie
John Welsman, Don Gillis, Hagood Hardy, and a few others created the musical accompaniments to Avonlea's seven seasons, and in my humble opinion, the music is just another example of the high quality of the series. From JW's beloved theme for Gus Pike to DG's well known tunes (used for both RTA and WAMB, I might add), their compositions provided key backdrops to each episode.
So, on that note, would anyone like to share their favorite composer, some favorite themes, or any thoughts on the RTA soundtrack available at the Boutique?

Posted: Mon Aug 01, 2005 10:49 am
by Timothy
John Welsman is my favorite composer for the series. I love the beautiful and subtle openings to the First and Second seasons. The gentle strings are a wonderful match for when the children are rambling through the fields. It really set the tone for the episodes and his composition for Gus's theme was perfect from 'Aunt Hetty's Ordeal.'

The RTA soundtrack was a disappointment because it didn't have John Welsman's brilliant music. Zsolt from the Golden Road to Avonlea submitted a petition to Kevin Sullivan with over a thousand signatures to release Welsman's work but Sullivan gave Zsolt the following response at Avcon 2004 (that's included on Zsolt's site):

I was told that Canadian musicians cost made Welsman CD unprofitable. So it seems there will not be available any CD from John Welsman for purchase...

No Welsman or Hagood Hardy. It's just a Don Gillis solo CD. It seemed like the King family theme just kept getting revised over and over again. I'm sure if they ever got to Digger's theme it would sound almost exactly like the first track. Variation of theme is one thing, but this, in my opinion, was overkill.

More on John Welsman:

Born in Toronto, Canada, he studied piano and theory at the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto, and attended the Faculty of Music, University of Western Ontario in 1974-75... An eleven-time Gemini Award nominee for his work, Welsman was awarded the 1990,1992,1995, and 1996 Gemini Awards for ‘Best Original Score For A Series’ for the series ‘Road To Avonlea’. He was also awarded the 1994 Gemini Award for ‘Best Original Score For A Program Or Mini-Series’ for ‘The Bellringer’.

Posted: Mon Aug 01, 2005 12:44 pm
by Annie
John Welsman is my favorite as well; he developed such a range of styles and moods over the course of the series. I'm particularly fond of the variations he did on the tune 'My Heart's in the Highlands', used throughout 'Aunt Abigail's Beau', 'Malcolm and the Baby', and again in 'Thursday's Child.' I also love the way he wrote themes for many of the characters, including Hetty, Felicity, Felix, Gus, and Jasper. Overall, his work was incredibly extensive.
I have to agree that Gillis' music on the RTA soundtrack does get monotonous. However, while he did write several variations of his themes, I think the fault really lies with whoever compiled the CD. Not only are many of the track titles irrelevant to the character or instance they refer to, but the fact is, much of the music he wrote for the series is not even on the CD. I think this may be because Gillis used a lot of his music from RTA for the series Wind at My Back later on, and so they put the themes on those soundtracks instead. I rant about this more here: ... eview.html
Still, if you take all the episodes into consideration, he really did compose several original scores. I think "Love May Be Blind" and "The Last Hurrah" show off some of his best stuff. Much of the RTA soundtrack is made up of music from episodes that were not that memorable (ie. What a Tangled Web We Weave). To prove my point, I took all the CDs I have bought from Sullivan so far (including the soundtracks for WAMB, Anne3, and the Romance and Celtic CDs), and found over 20 tracks on these CDs that are not on the RTA soundtrack, but can be heard in the series. To view the tracks, go to ... racks.html
Some of my favorites, like the opening theme for HCMK and the opening theme from 'Felicity's Perfect Beau' can be found on the other CDs.
As for a CD with John Welsman's music, I'm interested to see if his appearance at AvCon this weekend perhaps prompted furthur questions about a soundtrack someday . . .
Phew! I think I'm done now.


Posted: Mon Aug 01, 2005 6:26 pm
by Shelly
IMO, Welsman is RTA's definitive composer.

I've heard bits of the RTA soundtrack from the Boutique. It's not that great, IMO. I've also heard the Celtic CD; I don't think it's very "Celtic" at all.

I have heard very little about how AvCon went. But then, not everyone is home yet, either. (Some went up to North Bay to see MM and David Fox in a production of The Tempest; and others may still be in TO.) When more people get home, I'm sure we'll hear loads more about everything. :)

Posted: Fri Aug 05, 2005 5:06 pm
by Gwendolene
I love John Welsman's scores esp. anything with a fiddle *swoon*. Annie, I've been attempting to play your sheets of Swallow, since that is my favorite, but the end is a little too tricky for me at the moment. Gus' theme is a much easier fiddle tune to play.

Are you planning to put any more up?

Posted: Sat Aug 06, 2005 7:08 am
by Annie
Yep. The theme from 'Home Movie' is up next (as played by Alec King on the piano versus the condensed closing credits version).

Posted: Fri Aug 12, 2005 2:58 pm
by alecking
To see recent AvCon photos of the Great One, go to this link:

We were surprised to learn in Old Lady Lloyd/Song of the Night, Sylvia Gray's (Rebecca Jenkins) singing voice was dubbed with John Welsman's wife. Fooled me, too.

Posted: Fri Aug 12, 2005 6:18 pm
by Shelly
Whuh? Her voice was dubbed? *shakes head in astonishment*

Posted: Fri Aug 12, 2005 10:11 pm
by Timothy
So that wasn't Rebecca Jenkins (Sylvia Gray) singing 'Have you Ever Seen a Lassie?' Interesting...

btw, Welcome back from AvCon Bobby!

Posted: Sat Aug 13, 2005 4:40 am
by alecking
Thanks Timothy. The With-a-y believe J's wife is named Sarah Kemp. He didn't tell us which songs were dubbed. I assume they all were. What struck was how simular Rebecca's speaking voice is to Sarah's singing voice.
J was a wealth of knowledge. He mentioned a deleted video scene, which he could not find for AvCon, called, "The Raven" from "Thursday's Child" where a sickly Cecily nurses a dying raven back to health. Holds the recovered bird in her hands and it flies off. He was suppose to score music for that scene, but they told him to forget it. We should ask Harmony at the next AvCon about that scene.

Posted: Sun Aug 14, 2005 7:28 pm
by Timothy
That would have been a terrific scene for Harmony. I can't believe they dropped it. I would have preferred it over scenes of Felicity's career change to the medical field. Not that it was bad, but it ultimately went nowhere.


Posted: Sun Aug 14, 2005 7:53 pm
by alecking
Not to mention it was Harmony's "Last Harrah" and her most extensive episode in regard to lines. They should had showed more of her.

Another AvCon tidbit, according to Maggie, was that the early storyline had Jasper marrying Silvia Gray. But when the powers to be saw the improv awkward unhandshake between Jasper and Olivia in "HtSGGHN", they decided to keep the scene and change the storyline to a Jasper/Olivia marriage. Imagine Sylvia and Jasper as a couple. Imagine Sylvia in more episodes possibly with Mrs. Lloyd. I would have never thunk it. (Bronx,N.Y. past tense for think)

Posted: Mon Aug 15, 2005 7:02 am
by Annie
I'm guessing that the potential Jasper/Sylvia storline was an attempt to parallel the Jasper/Alice storyline from the books. (??) I find that kind of interesting since Alice's physical description always reminded me of Olivia anyway . .

[Above the bookcase a woman's picture hung - a water-colour, if Mrs. Griggs had but known it - representing a pale, very sweet face, with large, dark eyes and a wistful expression under loose masses of black, lustrous hair.] - The Golden Road

Sounds like the improv handshake really paid off!

Posted: Mon Aug 15, 2005 10:26 pm
by Timothy
:shock: :shock: :shock: Jasper was originally going to marry Sylvia Gray? Very Shocking!

This was obviously a good decision for the writers to shift from Jasper/Sylvia to Jasper/Olivia. I don't know what they would have done with Sylvia Gray for the rest of the series and Jasper would have been less involved in King family story lines (and thankfully Old Lady Lloyd didn't make any more appearances).

The Alice Reade element is interesting. They really did merge a lot of different stories together to produce the series. Olivia was the better choice because she was a principle King character and it fit well with both Jasper and Olivia collaborating at the Chronicle.

Posted: Mon Aug 29, 2005 10:00 am
by ol' gus
gus' theme- when that first came out stateside i asked my parents if i could have a violin- since that day to this- (about 11 years) i have been everywhere with that 'fiddle' thanks to ol' gus- dispite the fact that mahonen could learn how to fake playing a, shall i say-a 'wee' bit better, eh?