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The Harry Lime Theme

[Anton Karas]

Martin Carthy playes The Harry Lime Theme, the signature theme from the 1949 film noir The Third Man, on his 2004 album Waiting for Angels. The track had been released in advance in 2001 on the Free Reed compilation The Carthy Chronicles. He also played it live at Ruskin Mill in December 2004.

Martin Carthy noted on his album:

I think that there can be very little doubt but that The Harry Lime Theme is just about the greatest piece of film music anyone ever wrote in an English language film. That’s the objective me. The subjective me says it’s simply the best of the lot. Ever and anywhere. So there. It was written by Anton Karas, who was a jobbing zither player until he played at a party for the cast and crew of the 1940s Carol Reed film The Third Man. He was a part of the package offered by the catering company who provided the food - the sort of package offered at the time by most of the catering companies in Vienna - and that gig must have changed his life. It’s sort of nice that now and again things really do happen in the right way and that the goodies win. Anton Karas died in the early 1990s at a ripe old age having become internationally renowned for the music which he made for that film.

Martin Carthy also recited Miles Wootton’s poem Aux Anciens Parapets to the music of the Harry Lime Theme, e.g. performed in 1988 on his 1994 BBC album The Kershaw Sessions, and on The Best of the Cambridge Folk Festival.