The Piano (soundtrack)

The Piano is the original soundtrack, on the Virgin Records label, of the 1993 Academy Award-winning film The Piano. The original score was composed by Michael Nyman and is his twentieth album release. Despite being called a "soundtrack", this is a partial score re-recording, as Nyman himself also performs the piano on the album (whereas the film version is performed by lead actress Holly Hunter). The music is performed by the Munich Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Nyman with Michael Nyman Band members John Harle, David Roach and Andrew Findon performing the prominent saxophone work.

The Piano
Soundtrack album by
Released19 October 1993
Length56:47 (USA)
60:40 (UK, USA remastered edition)
ProducerMichael Nyman
Michael Nyman chronology
Time Will Pronounce
The Piano
Michael Nyman for Yohji Yamamoto
Singles from The Piano
  1. "The Heart Asks Pleasure First/The Promise"
    Released: 1993
Professional ratings
Review scores
Entertainment WeeklyC+ link

The album was nominated for the Golden Globe Award for Best Original Score (but lost to the score of Heaven & Earth) and the BAFTA Award for Best Score (lost to the score of Schindler's List).

The album design and illustration are by Dave McKean.

The main theme is based on a traditional Scottish melody titled "Gloomy Winter's Noo Awa".[1]

Track listing

1."To the Edge of the Earth"4:06
2."Big My Secret"2:51
3."A Wild and Distant Shore"5:50
4."The Heart Asks Pleasure First[2]"1:33
5."Here to There"1:02
6."The Promise"4:14
7."A Bed of Ferns"0:46
8."The Fling"1:28
9."The Scent of Love"4:16
10."Deep into the Forest"2:58
11."The Mood That Passes Through You"1:13
12."Lost and Found"2:24
13."The Embrace"2:36
14."Little Impulse"2:11
15."The Sacrifice"2:46
16."I Clipped Your Wing"4:34
17."The Wounded"2:26
18."All Imperfect Things"4:03
19."Dreams of a Journey"5:30
20."The Heart Asks Pleasure First/The Promise" (Edit)3:11

Note: Track 20 (The Heart Asks Pleasure First/The Promise) was not included on the American release until the remastered version in 2004, but included on the British version in the initial release.

The music has been re-recorded numerous times by different artists, and became the basis of Nyman's 1994 composition, The Piano Concerto which debuted in 1994. Perhaps the most unusual rerecording is by conductor Bill Broughton and the Orchestra of the Americas—an orchestral version sans piano. "Here to There", a saxophone solo, has become something of a staple for contemporary classical saxophonists.

Two additional solo piano pieces, "The Attraction of the Pedalling Ankle", which is based on Frédéric Chopin's Mazurka Op. 7/i, and "Deep Sleep Playing" are featured in the film, the former in scenes 51, 57, and 88, and the latter in scene 100. While not on the album, they are included in the published sheet music.

Several of the pieces from the soundtrack were used in Alexander McQueen's Fall/Winter 2006 fashion show.

The Finnish symphonic metal band Nightwish made a cover of "The Heart Asks Pleasure First" for their album Dark Passion Play that includes lyrics written by Nightwish composer and keyboardist, Tuomas Holopainen, but the band did not receive permission to release it on time for the album's release. However, the song was still played live via playback as the outro to the final concert of the Dark Passion Play World Tour held in Helsinki, Finland on 19 September 2009.[3] On 15 December 2009, Jarmo Lautamäki, a Nightwish crew member, confirmed on his Facebook page that Nyman finally gave permission to release the cover. It was released on 2 March 2012 as a B-side on the single The Crow, the Owl and the Dove.

In December 2010 Italian rock noir band Belladonna release "Let There Be Light", a single written in collaboration with Michael Nyman and based on "The Heart Asks Pleasure First". Michael Nyman himself plays piano on the track.[4]


Music composed, arranged, conducted and produced by Michael Nyman

Music published by Michael Nyman Ltd./Chester Music Ltd.


The main theme in The Piano is based entirely on a traditional Scottish melody titled "Gloomy Winter's Noo Awa".[1]


Region CertificationCertified units/sales
Canada (Music Canada)[5] Gold 50,000^
New Zealand (RMNZ)[6] Platinum 15,000^
Poland (ZPAV)[7] Platinum 100,000*
Spain (PROMUSICAE)[8] Platinum 100,000^
Switzerland (IFPI Switzerland)[9] Gold 25,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[10] Gold 100,000^
United States (RIAA)[11] Gold 500,000^

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone


  1. Christie, Nicola (8 April 2011). "Mark Ravenhill and Michael Nyman – Take your seats for jazzed-up Monteverdi". The Independent. Retrieved 5 May 2013.
  2. First verse of Emily Dickinson's poem contained in Complete Poems (1924). See "Verse > Emily Dickinson > Complete Poems > I. Life > 9. "The heart asks pleasure first"". bartleby. Emily Dickinson (1830–86). Complete Poems. 1924. Retrieved 16 October 2016.
  3. "Nightwish - Outro: The Heart Asks Pleasure First (@ Hartwall)". YouTube. Retrieved 24 August 2015.
  4. "Press Coverage". Michael Nyman. Archived from the original on 19 July 2014. Retrieved 24 August 2015.
  5. "Canadian album certifications – Michael Nyman – Piano OST". Music Canada.
  6. "Official Top 40 Albums - 17 April 1994". NZ Top 40. Retrieved 24 May 2019.
  7. "Polish album certifications – Michael Nyman – Piano OST" (in Polish). Polish Society of the Phonographic Industry.
  8. Salaverrie, Fernando (September 2005). Sólo éxitos: año a año, 1959–2002 (PDF) (in Spanish) (1st ed.). Madrid: Fundación Autor/SGAE. p. 944. ISBN 84-8048-639-2. Retrieved 25 May 2019.
  9. "The Official Swiss Charts and Music Community: Awards (Michael Nyman; 'Piano OST')". IFPI Switzerland. Hung Medien.
  10. "British album certifications – Michael Nyman – Piano OST". British Phonographic Industry. Select albums in the Format field. Select Gold in the Certification field. Type Piano OST in the "Search BPI Awards" field and then press Enter.
  11. "American album certifications – Michael Nyman – Piano". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved 17 July 2019. If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH. 
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