Michael Nyman – The Piano

The Piano is a 1993 drama film about a mute pianist and her daughter, set during the mid-19th century in a rainy, muddy frontier backwater on the west coast of New Zealand. The film was written and directed by Jane Campion, and stars Holly Hunter, Harvey Keitel, Sam Neill, and Anna Paquin. It features a score for the piano by Michael Nyman which became a bestselling soundtrack album. Hunter played her own piano pieces for the film, and also served as sign language teacher for Paquin, earning three screen credits. The film was an international co-production by Australian producer Jan Chapman with the French company Ciby 2000.

The Piano was a commercial and critical success, grossing more than $40 million, against its $7 million budget. Holly Hunter and Anna Paquin received high praise for their roles as Ada McGrath and Flora McGrath. At the 66th Academy Awards, The Piano won three awards: Best Actress for Hunter, Best Supporting Actress for Paquin, and Best Original Screenplay. Paquin, who at the time was 11 years old, is the second youngest Oscar winner ever, after Tatum O’Neal, who also won the Supporting Actress award in 1974 for Paper Moon, at 10.

The Piano
art by Dave McKean
Soundtrack album by Michael Nyman
Released October 19, 1993
Genre Soundtrack
Length 56:47 (USA)60:40 (UK, USA remastered edition)
Label Virgin
Producer Michael Nyman
Michael Nyman chronology
Time Will Pronounce1993 The Piano1993 Michael Nyman for Yohji Yamamoto1993
Singles from The Piano
  1. “The Heart Asks Pleasure First/The Promise”Released: 1993

The Piano is the original soundtrack, on the Virgin Records label, of the 1993 Academy Award-winning film The Piano. The original score was composed by Michael Nyman and is his twentieth album release. Despite being called a “soundtrack”, this is a partial score re-recording, as Nyman himself also performs the piano on the album (whereas the film version is performed by lead actress Holly Hunter). The music is performed by the Munich Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Nyman with Michael Nyman Band members John Harle, David Roach and Andrew Findon performing the prominent saxophone work.

The album was nominated for the Golden Globe Award for Best Original Score (but lost to the score of Heaven & Earth) and the BAFTA Award for Best Score (lost to the score of Schindler’s List).

The album design and illustration are by Dave McKean.

Track listing

  1. “To the Edge of the Earth” – 4:06
  2. “Big My Secret” – 2:51
  3. “A Wild and Distant Shore” – 5:50
  4. “The Heart Asks Pleasure First” – 1:33
  5. “Here to There” – 1:02
  6. “The Promise” – 4:14
  7. “A Bed of Ferns” – 0:46
  8. “The Fling” – 1:28
  9. “The Scent of Love” – 4:16
  10. “Deep Into the Forest” – 2:58
  11. “The Mood That Passes Through You” – 1:13
  12. “Lost and Found” – 2:24
  13. “The Embrace” – 2:36
  14. “Little Impulse” – 2:11
  15. “The Sacrifice” – 2:46
  16. “I Clipped Your Wing” – 4:34
  17. “The Wounded” – 2:26
  18. “All Imperfect Things” – 4:03
  19. “Dreams of a Journey” – 5:30
  20. “The Heart Asks Pleasure First/The Promise” (Edit) – 3:11 [not included on the American release until the remastered version in 2004, but included on the British version in the initial release]

The music has been re-recorded numerous times by different artists, and became the basis of Nyman’s 1994 composition, The Piano Concerto which debuted in 1994. Perhaps the most unusual rerecording is by conductor Bill Broughton and the Orchestra of the Americas—an orchestral version sans piano. “Here to There”, a saxophone solo, has become something of a staple for contemporary classical saxophonists.

Two additional solo piano pieces, “The Attraction of the Pedalling Ankle”, which is based on Frédéric Chopin’s Mazurka Op. 7/i, and “Deep Sleep Playing” are featured in the film, the former in scenes 51, 57, and 88, and the latter in scene 100. While not on the album, they are included in the published sheet music.

Several of the pieces from the soundtrack were used in Alexander McQueen’s Fall/Winter 2006 fashion show.

The Finnish symphonic metal band Nightwish made a cover of “The Heart Asks Pleasure First” for their album Dark Passion Play that includes lyrics written by Nightwish composer and keyboardist, Tuomas Holopainen, but the band did not receive permission to release it on time for the album’s release. However, the song was still played live via playback as the outro to the final concert of the Dark Passion Play World Tour held in Helsinki, Finland on September 19, 2009. On December 15, 2009, Jarmo Lautamäki, a Nightwish crew member, confirmed on his Facebook page that Nyman finally gave permission to release the cover. It will be released in March 2, 2012 as a B-Side in their upcoming single, The Crow, the Owl and the Dove.

In December 2010 Italian rock noir band Belladonna release “Let There Be Light”, a single written in collaboration with Michael Nyman and based on “The Heart Asks Pleasure First”. Michael Nyman himself plays piano on the track.


Music composed, arranged, conducted and produced by Michael Nyman

Music published by Michael Nyman Ltd./Chester Music Ltd.

  • Members of the Munich Philharmonic Orchestra


  • John Harle, soprano, alto saxophone
  • David Roach, soprano, alto axophone
  • Andrew Findon, tenor, baritone saxophone, flute, alto flute
  • Michael Nyman, piano
  • Conducted by Michael Nyman
  • Produced by Michael Nyman
  • Engineer: Michael J. Dutton
  • Executive Engineer: Malcolm Luker
  • Assistant Engineer: Jamie Luker
  • Recorded at Arco Studios, Munich
  • Mixed and edited at Kitsch Studios, Brussels
  • Post-production at Abbey Road
  • Design and illustration by Dave McKean
  • Photography by Grant Matthews and Polly Walker
  • Artist representative for Michael Nyman: Nigel Barr

From: en.wikipedia.org