John Leach – Prehistoric, Ancient and Period

John Leach - Prehistoric, Ancient and Period LP front cover
John Leach - Prehistoric, Ancient and Period LP back cover
John Leach - Prehistoric, Ancient and Period LP side A

John LeachBritish composer and cimbalom player Janos Lehar, aka John Leach, made a career in classical, soundtrack and library music. In the 1960s, he was working for the BBC and had already started collecting exotic and unusual instruments from around the world (like santur, koto, cheng or kantele). Leach is a well-respected interpret of cimbalom classical music by the likes of Stravinski, Debussy and Zoltán Kodály and wrote several academic articles on cimbalom and dulcimer between 1968 and 72. He collaborated with John Barry on The Ipcress File (1965) and The Persuaders (1970) soundtracks, played santur on Mike Batt’s soundtrack to James Fargo’s 1978 film Caravan, and contributed cimbalom notes to John Williams’ Raiders of the Lost Ark 1981 soundtrack. Leach plays cimbalom on Basil Kirchin’s Worlds Within Worlds 1971 LP, and cimbalom and kantele on Alan Parsons Project’s LPs Tales of Mystery and Imagination, 1976 and I Robot, 1977. He also collaborated with Jeff Wayne and George Fenton on several library music LPs, like the Medieval Music LP on KPM in 1972 (more info on his Discogs and MySpace pages).

♫  This 1970 Music De Wolfe release collects pseudo-early music composed by John Leach and played by “The Muzik Makers” in the style of Renaissance and Elizabethan Consort music. Instrumentation includes trumpet, horn, flute, fifes, classical guitar, viola and hand drums, but no sign of cimbalom, as far as I can tell. Nevertheless, the dignity and nobleness of these short tracks can’t fail to move and transport the listener in ancient times, though not quite as early as Prehistory.

01 Royal Thames (1:47)
02 Elizabethan Banquet (1:20)
03 For My Lady (1:21)
04 Galloping Galahad (1:55)
05 Courtly Revels (3:24)
06 Courtly Revels (3:01)
07 Call To Battle (:47)
08 Battle Fanfare (:43)
09 Retreat (:28)
10 Post Horn Call No.1 (:39)
11 Post Horn Call No.2 (:35)
12 Village Dance (1:47)
13 Coronation Music (1:36)
14 Cave Drawings (1:28)
15 Royal Garden (2:29)
16 Lady Salisbury (2:09)
17 Fifes and Drums (1:17)
18 The Plague (1:45)
19 Execution Drum (:43)
20 Psaltery Solo No.1 (1:15)
21 Psaltery Solo No.2 (1:13)

Total time 31:30
LP released by Music De Wolfe, UK, 1970

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8 Responses to “John Leach – Prehistoric, Ancient and Period”


  1. 1 s. borges May 26, 2011 at 11:51 am

    The cover alone is brilliant! This I have to hear!

  2. 2 continuo May 26, 2011 at 12:53 pm

    The cover art looks ugly to me, but maybe I’m wrong.

  3. 3 rob May 27, 2011 at 1:41 pm

    wonder if that’s him on portishead’s ‘sour times’? i seem to recall that being a john barry sample. (too lazy to look it up..)

  4. 4 rob May 27, 2011 at 1:44 pm

    ah no. lalo schifrin…

  5. 5 continuo May 27, 2011 at 2:06 pm

    Hi, Rob. Long time no see. Indeed, John Leach collaborated with John Barry on several film soundtracks, but I was not aware of a collaboration with Lalo Schifrin. May I ask you on which film?

  6. 6 rob May 29, 2011 at 1:37 pm

    well the sample i’m referring to is from ‘the danube incident’. it’s just that i didn’t know if it was leach playing..

    i’m thinking not, since mission:impossible was recorded in california… looking at one or two geek sites, the cimbalom player on this isn’t credited. like i said – i should have looked it up before posting… :-)

  7. 7 continuo May 29, 2011 at 6:07 pm

    This YouTube video reminds me John Barry once said in an interview that the cimbalom epitomizes the sound of Cold War in spy movies of the 1960s.

  8. 8 Ian Macdonald March 17, 2012 at 12:06 pm

    There were several John Barry tracks that John Leach may have ‘played’ on e.g. ‘King Rat’ ‘Orson Welles’ Great Mysteries’ ‘Vendetta’ etc


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