I first saw the Peter Sellers movie “Being There” in 1979, and fell in love with Johnny Mandel’s two piano pieces on the soundtrack. For years, pre Internet, I didn’t know what the pieces were. Although they sounded like classical piano music, they are not credited in the film, there is no soundtrack album, nor sheet music available. Finally, some time in the 90s, I heard Erik Satie’s Gnossiennes #4 and #5, which they are derived from, and recognized them immediately. I learned the Satie pieces, but then when I saw the movie again, I realized that Mandel’s versions of the Gnossiennes differ significantly from the originals. Mandel’s version of Gnossienne #4, “The Room Upstairs” can be heard in this clip on YouTube, starting around 2:40.
While Satie’s Gnossienne #4 maintains an ambient glasslike stasis throughout, Mandel’s “The Room Upstairs” contains some more straightforward harmonies, giving it a stronger emotional impact, suitable for a film score. Mandel’s version of Gnossienne #5, “Goodbye Louise”, which you can here in the end credits, introduces some Joplin-like motifs that aren’t present in the original. At the risk of offending purists, I think Mandel’s melody lines are more appealing, as well.
I eventually tracked down a decent MIDI arrangement of “The Room Upstairs”, by an unknown arranger, here. There is also a good recording of the two piano pieces from the film on Stephen Edward’s album, Piano Music from the Movies, which also contains some other great piano recordings of obscure film pieces, all available as MP3s from Amazon.
Using these source materials, I was finally able to make sheet music versions of the “The Room Upstairs”, and “Goodbye Louise”, which I thought I’d share. I haven’t completely finished marking all the phrasing, but there’s enough here for a competent pianist to work with.