‘Walking in the Air’ was written on ‘back of an envelope’ when composer was close to ‘collapse’

‘I had to get away from it all and think things through,’ said Howard Blake of his famous song

Ellie Harrison
Saturday 25 December 2021 16:07 GMT
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The film was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film and won a Bafta TV Award

Howard Blake, the composer of the famous festive song “Walking in the Air”, has said he was on the brink of “collapse” when he wrote the tune.

The song is best known as the soundtrack to Raymong Briggs’ 1982 animated adaptationof The Snowman.

In a new interview with Metro, Blake said his original idea for “Walking in the Air” was scrawled on the back of an envelope.

At the time of conceiving the song, he said, he had been “too busy and I had a sort of collapse”.

The composer added: “I had to get away from it all and think things through. I went and sat on a beach in Cornwall, and I lived there for about two months.

“I wanted to write a symphony about perfect innocence, the innocence with which we’re born and which we lose.

“I was walking on the beach and this tune came into my head. And I thought, ‘That’s it!’”

“It just came to me, and I wrote it on the back of an envelope,” he added.

The song went on to become the soundtrack for Channel 4’s The Snowman after Blake met film producer John Coates by chance.

Blake said when he saw the hand-drawn images of the little boy and the snowman, he knew “that’s where that tune belongs”.

The Snowman was an immediate success after it aired in Christmas 1982. It was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film and won a Bafta TV Award.

The story is told through pictures, action and music, and is wordless with the exception of the central song “Walking in the Air”. The orchestral score was performed in the film by the Sinfonia of London and the song was performed by Peter Auty, a St Paul’s Cathedral choirboy.

“Walking in the Air” was later famously covered by Welsh singer Aled Jones.

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