Behind the Music:
While the names Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglova may not strike a chord with the American music buff, the former songwriting duo hit the big time with their heartwarming and heartbreaking melodies in Once. The music for the movie and musical has won Oscars and Tonys, respectively, an especially impressive accomplishment for two songwriters with humble beginnings.
After dropping out of school at the age of 13 with the blessing of his headmaster, Glen Hansard took to the Dublin streets as a busker, playing music for any passerby who would listen. After some years of street performing, Glen formed a band called The Frames in 1990, and has recorded seven albums with the group to date. In 2006, The Frames band member John Carney approached Glen asking him to compose the score for his movie, Once. Glen agreed, and joined the film crew as a composer. Later, when the lead actor left the project, Hansard was astonished when he was offered the once-in-a-lifetime chance to not just compose the musical score for the film, but also to play the lead part of Guy.
Markéta Irglova first touched a piano at age seven. She met Glen Hansard at age sixteen, when her father was promoting Hansard’s band, The Frames, as they toured Irglova’s home country of the Czech Republic. Just one year later, she joined Hansard as a songwriter for Once, and was prompted by him to audition for the lead female role. Despite being fifteen years younger than the character, she landed the role and became a European star.
Following the release of Once, Irglova and Hansard formed their own musical duo, The Swell Season. Together they released two albums and toured until October 2010.
Since Once became an international phenomenon, Glen has gone on to tour with Bob Dylan, perform with major singer/songwriters including Ed Sheeran and Bruce Springsteen, and has had songs featured in such movies as The Hunger Games, The Odd Life of Timothy Green, and I’m Not There.
Irglova is the youngest songwriter and the first Czech native to win an Oscar. She currently resides in Iceland with her family where she continues to create music.
Behind the Story:
Across the pond in the UK, Enda Walsh is known for a lot more than just writing the book for Once. Enda first rose to fame on the stage in 1997 for his play Disco Pigs, the story of two young lovers named Pig and Runt. By the end of the 2000s, The Guardian was calling him, “one of the most dazzling wordsmiths of contemporary theatre.” Two years in a row he received awards from the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, the largest arts festival in the world, for his plays The Walworth Farce and The New Electric Ballroom. In 2012, he won the Tony Award for Best Book for his work on Once.
After his initial success as a playwright, Enda has moved on to bigger projects for the screen and stage. In 2008, he wrote the screenplay for Hunger, about the hunger strike of Bobby Sands, for which he won awards at the Cannes and the British Independent Film Awards. He most recently worked with David Bowie on the musical Lazarus, which opened in the West End at the end of 2016.