Home > Reviews > THE YOUNG VICTORIA – Ilan Eshkeri


December 19, 2009 Leave a comment Go to comments

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

A British costume drama directed by Jean-Marc Vallée, The Young Victoria tells the story of the early life of the soon-to-be Queen Victoria, who ruled Britain for 63 years from 1837 until 1901, and enjoyed a great life-long love with her consort, Prince Albert. Emily Blunt plays Victoria as a young romantic, deeply in love with Albert (Rupert Friend), both before and after her accession to the throne. The film, which was co-produced by Martin Scorsese and Sarah Ferguson (formerly the Duchess of York), features a plethora of British senior actors in supporting roles, including Miranda Richardson, Jim Broadbent, Paul Bettany, Mark Strong and Julian Glover, has rich and opulent production design and costumes, and has a strong score by British composer Ilan Eshkeri.

As one might expect given the nature of the film, the score is very classical, very regal, very English, and very romantic; it’s also very beautiful in parts, especially in the sequences which depict the budding relationship between Victoria and her handsome German prince. Several cues are direct adaptations of classical standards. The opening cue, “Childhood”, features a stirring performance of the traditional British coronation anthem, Handel’s Zadok the Priest, and “The King’s Birthday” adapts several classic Strauss waltzes into an Edwardian party mix, while other cues intentionally invoke the stylistics and melodic strength of Antonin Dvorák, Henry Purcell, as well as a direct reference to Franz Schubert’s “Swan Song” in the cue of the same name.

Eshkeri’s main contributions are the two themes for the central personas, “Go to England, Make Her Smile” and “Down the Stairs”. The two characters are defined by two specific instruments: shimmering harps for Victoria, and elegant pianos for Albert; at the beginning of the score they play in separation, eventually drawing together in a series of delightful duets to illustrate the couple’s courtship and marriage; the sunny and idyllic “Honeymoon” and the conclusive “Victoria and Albert” are perfect examples of this. The music is gorgeous, and in addition to the main instruments makes wonderful use of tender strings, deftly textured woodwind performances, and just the tiniest hint of brass. Cues such as “Albert Returns”, “Archery”, “Letters from Victoria”, “Letters from Albert”, the stunning “Marriage Proposal” and the emotional “Assassin” are beautifully romantic, while later cues such as “Lord Melbourne” are lively pastiches of the classical style, and further highlight Eshkeri’s talent for opulent thematic beauty. Only in “Riot” does Eshkeri attempt anything a little more vigorous, adding a more urgent percussion element to slightly more frantic string writing.

The song at the end, “Only You”, performed with ethereal intimacy by Irish vocalist Sinéad O’Connor, is based on the main theme for Victoria, and is simply lovely, easily one of the best songs of the year. The Young Victoria really is the absolute antithesis of Eshkeri’s other 2009 score, Ninja Assassin, and as much as the two scores highlight the composer’s versatility and talent across multiple genres and styles, I much prefer the music heard here.

Rating: ***

Buy the Young Victoria soundtrack from the Movie Music UK Store

Track Listing:

  • Childhood (3:09)
  • Go to England, Make Her Smile (Alfred’s Theme) (1:08)
  • Down the Stairs (Victoria’s Theme) (0:57)
  • The King’s Birthday (6:00)
  • Swan Song (2:27)
  • The King is Dead (3:07)
  • Buckingham Palace (1:07)
  • Lord Melbourne (1:07)
  • Albert Returns (1:56)
  • Archery (1:19)
  • The First Waltz (1:45)
  • Rainy Gazebo (1:59)
  • Letters from Victoria (1:18)
  • Constitutional Crisis (2:20)
  • Riot (1:38)
  • Letters from Albert (1:19)
  • Marriage Proposal (3:56)
  • Honeymoon (2:18)
  • Assassin (4:03)
  • Victoria and Albert (3:33)
  • Only You (Love Theme from The Young Victoria) (performed by Sinéad O’Connor) (5:18)

Running Time: 51 minutes 44 seconds

EMI 696-7622 (2009)

  1. November 3, 2010 at 5:39 pm

    Ninja Assasin is cheey in my opinion, the action sequence could have been much better ::

  2. January 24, 2011 at 11:00 pm

    ,`; I am very thankful to this topic because it really gives useful information ~,~

  3. Christopher
    May 19, 2012 at 10:36 am

    Great review here. I just saw this film again last night and was really impressed by the score – I didn’t remember it being so nice. When I went looking for reviews of the score, yours was the only site that had one! Thanks, Jon.

  4. Adam
    December 11, 2015 at 3:35 pm

    The review itself lists this as a 3 star score, but the review list has it at 4 stars. I know you don’t do stars anymore, but thought I’d point out the inconsistency. Really enjoy this score!

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