From Stage and Screen

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From Stage and Screen

1 June Is Bustin’ Out All Over (from "Carousel") (Richard Rodgers)
2 "Glenn Miller Story" – Theme from the film (Henry Mancini)
3 "Guys and Dolls" Selection (Frank Loesser, arr. Roland Shaw) Guys And Dolls, I’ve Never Been In Love Before, A Bushel And A Peck, If I Were A Bell, I’ll Know, Sit Down You’re Rockin’ The Boat.
4 It’s Only A Paper Moon (from the film "Take A Chance" 1933) (Harold Arlen)
5 Secret Love (from film "Calamity Jane") (Sammy Fain)
6 "Anastasia" – Theme from the film (Alfred Newman)
7 "The Dancing Years" Selection (Ivor Novello, arr, Sidney Torch)
8 As Time Goes By (featured in "Casablanca") (Herman Hupfeld, arr. Ron Goodwin)
9 Old Devil Moon (from "Finian’s Rainbow) (Burton Lane, arr. Morton Gould)
10 The Wedding Of The Painted Doll (Arthur Freed, Nacio Herb Brown) (from the film "Broadway Melody" 1929)
11 The Song From "The Moulin Rouge" (Where Is Your Heart) (Georges Auric, arr. Percy Faith)
12 Show Me (from "My Fair Lady") (Alan Jay Lerner, Frederick Loewe – arr. Percy Faith)
13 The Song From "Desiree" (Alfred Newman – arr. Frank Cordell)
14 "Samson And Delilah" Film Theme (Victor Young)
15 "Dark Secret" – Theme Waltz from the film (George Melachrino)
16 Carriage and Pair; Long Forgotten Melody (from the film "So Long At The Fair") (Benjamin Frankel)
17 "Obsession" – Themes from the film (Nino Rota)
18 "The Passionate Friends" Film music (Richard Addinsell, arr. Leonard Isaacs)
19 The Card Ballet (from the film "Let’s Be Happy") (Brodszky, Sendrey)
Original soundtrack recording

Guild GLCD 5152

Music has helped to create the right atmosphere for many theatrical productions since time immemorial, and during the last century another art form – namely filmed entertainment – has continued this well established custom. Long before the movie pioneers learned how to link pictures on screen with recorded sound, numerous musicians were employed to provide an accompaniment to the flickering images, helping to lull the audience into the right frame of mind, although it has been suggested that another motive was to smother the sound made by the noisy film projectors. Whatever the true reasons, by the time films started talking towards the end of the 1920s a musical accompaniment was deemed essential by producers and audiences alike.

This created a wonderful opportunity for composers to exploit the new medium. Remember this was also happening at a time when radio was reaching homes all over the world. Never can there have been a period in history when musicians found their talents to be in such demand. The result was a truly astonishing outpouring of melodies of all kinds, from composers and lyricists of varying talents. Many were soon deservedly forgotten, but a substantial legacy of memorable songs conceived for theatrical and film productions remains to this day.

Alongside the shows and musicals were the purely dramatic films which required a different kind of music to establish just the right background, and a number of leading ‘serious’ composers, normally active in classical fields, found themselves being offered prestigious commissions. A few rose to the occasion, but gradually it was realised that films required a more specialised approach, and an elite corps of writers emerged on both sides of the Atlantic to dominate the film music scene.

In this collection we salute the backroom boys whose music has meant so much, whether memorable songs from fondly recalled shows and films, or distinctive orchestral scores especially for the cinema.

Some of the chosen pieces apply equally to both art forms, since many successful stage productions were subsequently filmed, reaching a massive audience around the world. The opening track June Is Bustin’ Out All Over from "Carousel" illustrates just one of the Richard Rodgers (1902-1990) scores to be snapped up by Hollywood. Geoff Love (1917-1991) was a leading figure in Britain’s musical scene, turning his hand to all kinds of music from bright and breezy ‘corny’ tunes to a full concert orchestra performing high class arrangements such as this.

Enrico Nicola – better known as ‘Henry’ Mancini (1924-1994) had a brilliant career in recording and films, and his early score for "The Glenn Miller Story" (1954) deservedly won an Academy Award nomination.

Geraldo (Gerald Bright, 1904-1974) fronted just about every kind of ensemble over four decades and influenced the successful careers of numerous top singers. In the 1950s he fronted an orchestra brimful of talented musicians for his BBC broadcasts and recordings, and he engaged Roland Shaw (born 1920 Roland Edgar Shaw-Tomkins) to arrange the selection of tunes from "Guys And Dolls".

David Rose (1910-1990) hardly needs an introduction to light music admirers. Although born in England he fronted one of America’s foremost orchestras, and among his numerous compositions were Holiday For Strings and The Stripper.

Born in Toronto, Canada, Robert Farnon (1917-2005) came to England in 1944 to conduct the Canadian Band of the AEF, and when he was demobbed he remained and quickly established himself in radio, records, films and television. His gift for composition resulted in hundreds of his works being accepted for the background music library operated by the London publishers Chappells, and he was also a master at orchestrating other composers’ melodies. Secret Love is a prime example of the unique string sound which is instantly recognisable to his countless admirers.

Alfred Newman (1900-1970) was nominated for an Academy Award no less than 45 times, actually winning the Oscar on nine occasions. He is represented in this collection by two compositions Anastasia and The Song from Desiree. The first also finds him conducting the Victor Young Singing Strings while the second is performed by Frank Cordell (1918-1980) in a lush arrangement so typical of the more romantic side of his output.

Sidney Torch (1908-1990) was one of Britain’s finest theatre organists during the 1930s. After war service in the Royal Air Force, where he conducted the RAF Concert Orchestra, he concentrated entirely on composing, arranging and conducting light music. Previous Guild CDs have included some of his catchy compositions (mostly composed especially for the Chappell Recorded Music Library), and from the 1950s to the 1970s he was a familiar name in Britain thanks to his association with the radio programme "Friday Night Is Music Night". His recording contract with EMI’s Parlophone label produced numerous 78s, usually featuring his own superb arrangements – witness the way in which he treats the beautifully crafted melodies by Ivor Novello (born David Ivor Davies 1893-1951) for his show "The Dancing Years". From his first hit Keep the Home Fires Burning during World War One, until his last show "Gay’s The Word" shortly before his death, he was a leading figure in Britain’s theatrical scene. The other Sidney Torch recording is music from Obsession, an early film score by Nino Rota (1911-1979). Before he became world famous through his work in many great Italian movies, Rota worked in British film studios, perhaps the best-known being "The Glass Mountain" in 1949, which achieved box office success largely due to the popularity of the music. The previous year he scored "Obsession" ("The Hidden Room" for its US release) starring Robert Newton. This contains many of the elements that would make Rota’s Italian scores so distinctive: they often sound almost like simple folk tunes yet they can also be cutting-edge with their avant-garde harmonies.

Veteran Hollywood composer Max Steiner (born Maximilian Raoul Walter Steiner 1888-1971) was responsible for scoring the 1942 masterpiece "Casablanca", but it is not his music that is remembered. Instead the glory goes to Herman Hupfeld (1894-1951) who composed As Time Goes By. The song was first heard in a musical called "Everybody’s Welcome" which opened at New York’s Schubert Theater on 13 October 1931. Had Dooley Wilson not sung it at the piano in "Casablanca" we would probably not know the song today, since it attracted very little attention when first published, with apparently only one British dance band deciding to make a 78. The 1956 version by Ron Goodwin (1925-2003) provides a showcase for sax and trumpet. At the time he engaged session musicians for his recordings and unfortunately it has not been possible to identify who the soloists were.

Morton Gould (1913-1996) became one of the most highly respected American composers, and his distinguished career was crowned with a Pulitzer Prize (for his Stringmusic, commissioned by Mstislav Rostropovich for the National Symphony Orchestra of Washington) just a year before his death at the age of 82. Among his best-known works were the ballet Fall River Legend and American Symphonette No. 3,which became better known as Pavanne (the mis-spelling was deliberate). His American Salute (based on When Johnny Comes Marching Home) also caught the public’s attention. From 1986 to 1994 Gould was President of the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP). As well as composing and conducting he also created numerous imaginative arrangements, such as Old Devil Moon from "Finian’s Rainbow".

Frank Chacksfield (1914-1995) conducted one of the finest light orchestras in the world, and during his long recording career with Decca alone it is estimated that his albums sold more than 20 million copies. In total he made more than 150 long-playing albums which were released in many countries, especially in Europe, Japan and Australia as well as Britain and America.

Percy Faith (1908-1976) was born in Toronto, Canada, and originally he expected that his musical career would be as a concert pianist. But he injured his hands in a fire, which forced him to turn to composing, arranging and conducting. During the 1930s his programme "Music By Faith" was carried by the Mutual network in the USA, which prompted offers of work south of the border. In 1940 he moved permanently to the USA where he quickly established himself through radio and recordings. From the 1950s onwards his fame spread internationally, due to the great success of his numerous long playing albums. Unlike most of his contemporaries, Faith arranged all his own material, and his exciting and vibrant scores made his work stand out among the rest.

Victor Young (1900-1956) excelled as a violinist, arranger, film composer, songwriter, conductor and record producer. This wide experience in all forms of music, from his first hit song, Sweet Sue, Just You in 1928 to his tremendous score for "Around the World in 80 Days" in 1956, was exceptional even by Tin Pan Alley and Hollywood standards, all the more so because his international reputation was achieved in such a short lifetime. Like so many of his contemporaries, he found work with various dance bands of the 1920s and 1930s, before eventually ending up in Hollywood, where he discovered the ideal outlet for his melodic gifts – his screen credits eventually exceeded 200 productions.

It is a pity that the British film "Dark Secret" (1949) seems almost to have vanished without trace, because it is one of several from the same era featuring a score by George Melachrino (1909-1965). Apart from his fine recordings with his orchestra, he composed and arranged many pieces intended for use by radio, television and films, and several of these have already appeared in this series of Guild CDs.

Benjamin Frankel (1906-1973) is today remembered more for some of his serious works, although his name first came to the public’s attention through several of his film scores, particularly "The Seventh Veil" (1946), "So Long At The Fair" (1950) from which comes the charming Carriage and Pair (the Mantovani version is on GLCD 5105), "The Man In The White Suit" (1951) and "A Kid For Two Farthings" (1955). In total Frankel scored over 80 feature films and documentaries, plus television plays and theatrical productions.

Charles Williams(real name Isaac Cozerbreit 1893-1978) began his career accompanying silent films, then played violin under the batons of Beecham and Elgar. Right from the start of the ‘talkies’, he provided scores for numerous British films, and in 1960 he topped the American charts with his theme for the film "The Apartment", although in reality the producers had resurrected one of his earlier works Jealous Lover. He conducted many commercial recordings for Columbia during the 1940s and 1950s, although his largest body of work in the light music field was his massive contribution to the Chappell Recorded Music Library (there is a fine selection from this source on GLCD 5107).

"The Passionate Friends" was one of David Lean’s least successful films when released in 1948, yet it possessed many positive ingredients that should have made it a box office hit. Based on a story by H.G. Wells, the stars included Ann Todd, Trevor Howard and Claude Rains, backed up by a strong team of British supporting actors. The outdoor scenes were attractive, and there seems little doubt that the producers were hoping to build on the success of "Brief Encounter" three years earlier. For the music they turned to Richard Addinsell (1904–1977) who, in 1941, had stunned cinema audiences with his Warsaw Concerto" (for the film "Dangerous Moonlight"), although it subsequently emerged that much of the credit should have gone to the man who orchestrated Addinsell’s sketches - Roy Douglas (b.1907). In the case of "The Passionate Friends" Addinsell worked with Leonard Isaacs (1909-1997), and an attempt was made to promote part of the score as a popular song under the title Lovers’ Moon. Film buffs in the 21st century now look more favourably on this film than their grandparents; it seems to be acquiring cult status and has been digitally restored by the British Film Institute. In the USA it was released as "One Woman’s Story". The MD on the film was the ubiquitous Muir Mathieson (1911-1975), who also conducted the commercial recording for Columbia.

Although Angela Morley arranged most of the music for the British film "Let’s Be Happy", it is disappointing that she was not allowed to orchestrate Nicholas Brodszky’s music for the ballet sequence – The Card Ballet. It seems that musicals of this period often deemed it necessary to include such a set piece, giving composers and arrangers a great opportunity to produce something rather special. It would be foolish to expect another "American In Paris" or "Slaughter On Tenth Avenue" every time, but enjoyable results can often be achieved from more modest resources.

Albert Richard Sendrey (1911-2003) was a prolific composer, conductor and arranger largely unknown to the public, although he was highly regarded within the music profession. His Hungarian-born father Alfred was an opera singer and composer; he also taught music and one of his pupils is reputed to have been Henry Mancini. Albert’s mother, Eugenie, had been a soprano for the Vienna Opera under Gustav Mahler, so he certainly grew up strongly influenced by music. His education included periods at the Leipzig Conservatory and the Trinity College of Music in London, and he also studied with John Barbirolli, Albert Coates and Henry Geehl. One might have expected all these influences to result in a career in serious music, but it seems that Albert was more attracted to the popular music scene in the USA. He signed with MGM in the 1940s, and his long career produced some 170 scores for films and TV. In 1953 he began contributing production numbers for shows in Las Vegas, and shortly thereafter he began working as pianist and conductor for Tony Martin, one of the stars of "Let’s Be Happy". No doubt this influenced the producers to engage him to work on the ballet sequence with Brodszky.

Born in Odessa, Russia, Nicholas Brodszky (1905-1958) – spellings of his names differ - was credited with a number of film scores, but in essence his main gift was as a composer of songs, leaving others to orchestrate his basic themes (similar to Richard Addinsell, mentioned above). Like so many musicians he learned piano as a child, and studied in Rome, Vienna and Budapest. By the late 1920s he was contributing songs to long-forgotten Viennese operettas, and his success with hit songs in Europe prompted a move to England in 1937 where he wrote the music (to A.P. Herbert’s lyrics) for C.B. Cochrane’s revue "Home and Beauty". Previously his work had already appeared in many German films, so it was hardly surprising that British film producers would soon commission him – even though ‘collaborators’ such as Charles Williams, Philip Green, Mischa Spoliansky, Clive Richardson and Sidney Torch would all take turns at moulding Brodszky’s songs into acceptable film scores. Perhaps the most memorable during that period was "The Way To The Stars" (1945), although Charles Williams later claimed that Brodszky only wrote the first four notes of the main theme leaving the rest to him (Williams’ own recording is on GLCD 5102). Brodszky ended his career in Hollywood, receiving five Oscar nominations for movie songs (four of them with lyrics by Sammy Cahn) such as Be My Love and Because You’re Mine. Louis Levy was musical director at Associated British Studios at that time, and his name (as usual) was prominently displayed on the credits as conductor. But it is Albert Sendrey who deserves the real credit for The Card Ballet. Choreographed by Pauline Grant and Alfred Rodriques, it gave Hollywood star Vera-Ellen full scope to display her dancing skills in what was to be her last major film role.

© David Ades 2008

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