My first encounter with David Garnett’s Aspects of Love was in 1979. Tim Rice had been sent the book, as a film was being planned to which we were possibly to contribute songs. Some time later, we felt it was an interesting subject for us to write on, particularly as it was so different from Evita and I had just finished Tell Me on a Sunday, which was not so very far in scale from how I imagined Aspects. But a splendid and somewhat indulgent few days at Eugenie-les-Bains, chosen because we argued it was vaguely near Pau, bore little fruit.
During the course of Cats rehearsals, I gave the book to Trevor Nunn, who was delighted with it. In 1983, we presented a “cabaret” of some songs we wrote together for a possible full-length musical. But these songs did not work either. I often feel that I was trying to impose a big, grandiose, romantic style onto the novel and in fact a fair amount of the music of the cabaret became The Phantom of the Opera.
It was a little before the completion of Phantom that I realised that I wanted to change direction sharply in my next work. Thus I returned to the Garnett novel and in the company of Don Black, who I had worked with on Tell Me On A Sunday, and Charles Hart, with whom I was completing Phantom, we decided to try once more.
Of the 1979 version, nothing survives in this score as nothing much was written anyway. Of the 1983 version, the most substantial melody to survive is the Pyrenees folk song. Two others also survive: George’s section about Rose in the Venice sequence and, also in that sequence, a motif I used as a television theme tune when I thought in 1984 that Aspects was a subject I would not return to.
All of the principal melodies and the great body of the work were written, therefore, during the course of my collaboration with Don and Charlie.
To offer the work to Trevor Nunn to direct was obvious, since his interest in the book has been every bit as great as mine for almost as long. Indeed, in 1983 he took over the rights to develop the novel as a film. It is, perhaps, worth recording that Aspects very nearly did become the first musical of mine that was made as a film without a theatrical presentation, but Trevor Nunn convinced me otherwise and thus we are enjoying our first collaboration together about human beings.
Andrew Lloyd Webber, from the original production programme
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