Most know Charlie Chaplin as an iconic and innovative actor and filmmaker. However, little is known about his work as a composer.
To mark the 130th anniversary of Chaplin’s birth, Grammy-nominated violinist Philippe Quint released a new album, Chaplin's Smile, on Warner Classics, his debut on the label. It features 13 world-premiere arrangements of songs from Chaplin’s most popular films including City Lights, The Great Dictator, The Kid, Limelight and Modern Times. Quint is accompanied by pianist Marta Aznavoorian, and also joined on two tracks by Quint’s friend and frequent collaborator, violinist Joshua Bell.
Quint worked with the Chaplin estate for several years to research and craft the arrangements featured on the album. Kiera Chaplin, Chaplin's granddaughter, is hosting all of the international tour concerts. The recital concept for the tour, conceived by Quint, includes many of the new arrangements while focusing on Chaplin’s fascinating encounters with some of the greatest classical composers of his time including Stravinsky, Rachmaninov, Debussy, and Schoenberg, interspersed with narrations of those meetings from Chaplin’s book My Autobiography. The recitals will also feature photos and clips from Chaplin’s most famous films.
What isn’t very well known about Chaplin is his identity as the composer of nearly all of the music accompanying his films. Quint said, “Growing up in the Soviet Union in the 1980s meant we had very little access to performers outside of the former USSR. However, Charlie Chaplin was an exception. Upon my arrival to the US in 1991, I finally was able to acquire Charlie’s films on VHS. I watched them hundreds of times, every time noticing something new.”
Quint’s love for Chaplin has carried him through the years, and while looking for a new project, Quint stumbled upon Chaplin’s Smile. Many different versions of the song exist, by Tony Bennett, Michael Jackson, and Placido Domingo, among others, but Quint did not realize that Chaplin was the composer. However, during a quick online search, he uncovered an entire catalog of Chaplin’s works.
“Almost Mozartian in its grace and charm, Chaplin’s music is deceptively simple yet speaks directly to your heart,” Quint said.
Listen to Chaplin’s Smile on Amazon, Apple Music, Spotify, Google Play, and more.