Skip to main content

Film music concert: Charlie Chaplin

The Circus



20:15 — Théâtre de Beaulieu

Series Lausanne

Concert film

Grand Mécène


Philippe Béran

Charlie Chaplin

Charlie Chaplin
The Circus

the music

The movie

The Tramp wanders into a circus carnival, and finds himself embroiled with a pickpocket and the police, in a funhouse and a hall of mirrors. Evading his pursuers, he rushes into the circus ring, and wrecks the performance of an illusionist - to the delight of the audience. The circus is in financial difficulties, and the proprietor sees a hope of salvation in this new clown. The only problem is that he is only funny when he does not intend to be. Thus, quite unconsciously, he becomes the comedy star of the show. Soon he falls in love with a beautiful young bareback rider, the ill-treated daughter of the circus proprietor. The romance prospers, despite the Tramp’s encounters with a lion and other hazards of the circus until the appearance of a rival, the handsome new tightrope artist, Rex. The Tramp’s attempts to compete, both in romance and on the tightrope, end in catastrophe. The circus moves on, leaving the Tramp alone on the scarred ring of grass which is all that remains of the show.

The music

In the late 1960s, after the years spent trying to forget it, Chaplin returned to The Circus to re-release it with a new musical score of his own composition. He even composed a theme song, ‘Swing Little Girl’, to be sung over the titles. A professional vocalist was engaged, but the musical director, Eric James, recognised that Chaplin himself sang the song much better. So he was persuaded, at the age of 79, to record the song. It seemed to symbolize his reconciliation to the film which cost him so much stress.

The Circus won Charles Chaplin his first Academy Award - it was still not yet called the ‘Oscar’ - he was given it at the first presentations ceremony, in 1929. The special award was for ‘Versatility and genius in writing, acting, directing and producing’.

The Circus © Roy Export S.A.S.
Music from The Circus © Roy Export Co. Ltd. & Bourne Co. All right reserved.

OSR Live

video thumbnail

Ludwig van Beethoven

Symphony No 6 'Pastoral'

Jonathan Nott


Recorded on 26 November 2018 at Victoria Hall, Geneva

video thumbnail

Maurice Ravel


Jonathan Nott


Recorded on 15 November 2017 at Victoria Hall, Geneva