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Kings Row/The Sea Wolf (1942/1941)
Music by Erich Wolfgang Korngold
Kings Row/The Sea Wolf Kings Row/The Sea Wolf Kings Row/The Sea Wolf
Click to enlarge images.
Price: $24.95
Limited #: 3000
View CD Page at SAE Store
Line: Golden Age
CD Release: December 2007
Catalog #: Vol. 10, No. 15
# of Discs: 2

Released by Special Arrangement With Turner Classic Movies Music.

There are the greats—and then there is Korngold. A child prodigy in his native Vienna, Erich Wolfgang Korngold found success in Hollywood as probably the finest symphonic composer ever to write for the movies. His swashbuckling scores for The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938) and The Sea Hawk (1940) set the gold standard for sheer musicality and melody in film, and created not only generations of film music fans, but much of what is considered film music itself. Korngold's concert music was often damned critically for sounding too much like film music when, in fact, it was film music that sounded like him, so influential was his contribution to the genre.

As the 1940s began, the composer moved away from the scoring of colorful period adventures and embarked on an interesting series of films dealing with complex adult subjects—which were actually more to his taste. Two of the first—and best—come to CD in as definitive a form as possible in this premiere 2CD set.

Kings Row (1942) was an adaptation of the Henry Bellamann novel about sin and human failings in a small midwestern American town circa 1900. Best-known for Ronald Reagan's most famous performance (in which he cries "Where's the rest of me?" after discovering his legs have been amputated), the film is an American classic and the forerunner to stories such as Peyton Place. Legend has it that Korngold composed his fanfare-like main theme under the mistaken notion that the film was about royalty—but that does not explain how this sublime melody so perfectly fits the poem "Invictus" that ends the film.

Even fans who have not heard Kings Row have likely heard of it: the main theme is famously one of the inspirations for John Williams's theme to Star Wars, as well as a portion of Superman. But the score is more than one theme; staying true to his Viennese roots, Korngold composed a marvelous and breathtaking stream of thematic material that coursed with the passion, tragedy and longing of the film's small-town characters.

The Sea Wolf (1941)—which immediately preceded Kings Row in Korngold's career—was one of the composer's darkest projects. The film was adapted from a novel by Jack London and stars Edward G. Robinson as a tyrannical sea captain who terrorizes his passengers and crew. Gloomy and shrouded in fog, the film is, in a sense, a precursor to the 1940s wave of films noir—as is Korngold's score, with its brutal soundscapes and sinister colors, including vibraphone and Novachord synthesizer. Yet Korngold provides melody throughout, including a beautiful love theme and powerful, crashing main title theme. The Sea Wolf is one of his least-known works but also one of the best.

Both Kings Row and The Sea Wolf have been mastered from monaural 1/4" tapes made of the original optical film recordings conducted by Korngold for the films themselves. The Sea Wolf is complete; Kings Row is nearly complete, missing only a few lost cues, such as the chorus to the "Invictus" finale. Liner notes to this historic release are by Korngold biographer Brendan G. Carroll.

Erich Wolfgang Korngold Scores on FSM
About the Composer

Erich Wolfgang Korngold (1897-1957) is one of the founding fathers of film music, adopting his romantic symphonic style from Vienna (where he was a child prodigy and concert composer) to Hollywood swashbucklers like The Adventures of Robin Hood and The Sea Hawk—and one of the direct influences for John Williams's sweeping scores such as Star Wars and Superman. Though many composers have written in this style, to hear Korngold himself doing it—with his dynamic melodies, shimmering orchestrations and symphonic sweep—is breathtaking. IMDB

Comments (20):Log in or register to post your own comments
I'm listening to KINGS ROW for the umpteenth time right now, and once again my mind is blown to smithereens. The word "epic" doesn't even begin to descibe this masterpiece. It's the film score equivalent of The Complete Works of Shakespeare. It's the Crème de la FSM.

Korngold received more fan mail for KINGS ROW than any other score he wrote. The main title theme is glorious.

I too think this is a great release. Kings Row is fantastic in (almost) complete form, but I like The Sea Wolf even better. Very modern and a surprising score coming from Korngold. It's one of my favorites. When this release came out I was expecting further FSM Korngold titles in the near future. I'm kinda surprised and disappointed that no more have come out (particularly the original track for The Sea Hawk, my favorite Korngold score, but perhaps the time wasn't right with two re-recordings of it coming out).

Yavar

I'd love a complete BETWEEN TWO WORLDS

KING'S ROW is my favorite Erich Wolfgang Korngold score. And Korngold is my favorite composer.

The "Randy and Drake" theme is my all-time favorite "love theme," especially as played in the "Kings Row Suite" by Charles Gerhardt and the National Philharmonic for their Reader's Digest recording of the suite (1968). Lush oceans and oceans of violins, as opposed to the smaller orchestral palette in the soundtrack or in Gerhardt's later accurate re-recording of the score for Varese. I'm a sucker for violins playing a beautiful love theme. This would be my theme as they wheeled me away into eternity in "Soylent Green." :)

Chesky Records released it on their "Hollywood Screen Classics" CD71 in 1992. A lot of people don't know about this CD. It is WELL worth picking up and is usually not too pricey. Here's a link:

http://www.musicweb-international.com/film/june99/gerhardt.htm

Ron Burbella


Dang but I wish all of those Gerhardt recordings could be released in several box sets...

I do prefer Korngold conducting his own work, though. Bill Stromberg probably gets the closest of the conductors I've heard but even he can't match Korngold (though he *nails* Newman, Waxman, and Herrmann).

Yavar

Dang but I wish all of those Gerhardt recordings could be released in several box sets...
[/endquote]

One would be better. In a couple weeks I'm going to try and make a theoretical set tracklist...I bet it'd be about 9 CDs or so if done in a way to maximize playing time per disc.

Yeah, but one isn't feasible because of rights issues -- all the Reader's Digest stuff, for example, could make up one box set, but then the RCA stuff would have to be on another...and there'd still be a bunch of odds and ends like the Holdridge album that are owned by different people entirely. A truly complete Gerhardt conducts Film Music set would be even less feasible than a complete Star Trek film score set.

Yavar

Yeah, but one isn't feasible because of rights issues -- all the Reader's Digest stuff, for example, could make up one box set, but then the RCA stuff would have to be on another...and there'd still be a bunch of odds and ends like the Holdridge album that are owned by different people entirely. A truly complete Gerhardt conducts Film Music set would be even less feasible than a complete Star Trek film score set.

Yavar[/endquote]

Well I was talking about the RCA Classic Film Scores series alone.

I'd love a complete BETWEEN TWO WORLDS[/endquote]

Alas, only a couple of cues survive for this score, from the original optical stems, so a complete release is impossible.

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Track List
Instruments/Musicians
Click on each musician name for more credits

Violin:
Noumi / Naomi Fischer, Hans Wippler, Harry Zagon

Cello:
N. Liebenbaum

Flute:
James Briggs, Leonard V. Posella

Clarinet:
Teddy Krise, Percy Nichols

Bassoon:
Arthur Fleming

Saxophone:
James Briggs, Teddy Krise, Percy Nichols

Trumpet:
A. A. Harris, Larry Sullivan

Trombone:
Charles Cowpland, Frank Sullivan

Harp:
Zhay Clark Moor

Drums:
Charles Calkins

Unknown:
I. Friedman, A. Jaeger

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