George Benjamin, the composer in focus at this year’s festival, has been accompanying silent films since his student days. He says it taught him a lot that was later useful as an opera composer. His approach is to avoid the clichés of film music, react as spontaneously as he can to the images – preferably without any prior knowledge of the film – and sometimes apply contrasting colours. The Pathé Tuschinski cinema, which opened in 1921, is the perfect place to see the reative process of one of the greatest composers of our age in action.

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