M-G-M’s Young Bess (1953) spins a fictionalized tale about the youth of England’s Queen Elizabeth I. The tumultuous Tudor dynasty has provided rich material for dramatists over the centuries—and not only in English-speaking countries. Friedrich Schiller’s Maria Stuart, for example, provided a template for the bel canto operas of Gaetano Donizetti, and the twentieth-century composer Benjamin Britten composed his Gloriana in honor of the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II.
The movies and television have been no less enthralled. Henry VIII and his six wives provided material for filmmakers as diverse as Alexander Korda (The Private Life of Henry VIII) and the British television networks that have regaled viewers with multiple Tudor tales in the 1970s and again in the 2000s. Queen Elizabeth I has been memorably impersonated by Flora Robson, Bette Davis, Glenda Jackson and Cate Blanchett—to name only the actresses who have portrayed her twice. It is hard to imagine a time when the story of history’s most successful woman ruler will cease to fascinate. Notable Tudor-era film scores have included works by Erich Wolfgang Korngold (The Sea Hawk, The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex, The Prince and the Pauper), Franz Waxman (The Virgin Queen), Georges Delerue (Anne of the Thousand Days) and John Barry (Mary, Queen of Scots).
Young Bess, released in the coronation year of 1953, concentrates on a single incident when Elizabeth was 15: a highly controversial encounter with the Lord High Admiral of the Royal Navy, one Thomas Seymour, 24 years her senior. The bearded admiral was the brother of Jane Seymour (third wife of Henry VIII) and therefore the uncle to the young Edward VI, Henry’s only male heir. The immediate source material for the film was a book by Margaret Irwin, a respected author and researcher on Elizabethan themes. Her 1944 novel Young Bess was the first volume of a trilogy that also included Elizabeth, Captive Princess (1948) and Elizabeth and the Prince of Spain (1953). Although nearly forgotten today, Irwin’s books were quite popular in their time. M-G-M promptly acquired the rights but spent several years bringing the project to the screen, with both Greer Garson and Deborah Kerr considered for the lead role.
The film was produced by Sidney Franklin (one of the few Hollywood producers whom Miklós Rózsa liked and respected) and directed by George Sidney. The son of Louis K. Sidney (the executive who had brought Rózsa to M-G-M) and a himself veteran of the factory system, George Sidney was best known for musicals (Annie Get Your Gun, Show Boat) and for the occasional lightweight swashbuckler (Scaramouche and the Gene Kelly version of The Three Musketeers). Irwin’s novel was adapted for the screen by Jan Lustig and Arthur Wimperis, the latter a veteran of the Alexander Korda organization. Wimperis, whose involvement in the famous Private Life of Henry VIII made him an obvious choice for this Tudor drama, was a lyricist as well as screenwriter: he had provided the words for Marlene Dietrich’s proposed song (never used) in Knight Without Armour and for the mother’s lullaby in The Jungle Book. (The novelist Katherine Anne Porter also worked on the Young Bess script during her brief, unhappy stint in Hollywood.)
The resultant film is sometimes uncertain in tone, veering between the stereotypes of “Merrie Olde Englande” and the portents of “Great Things to Come.” At its core, however, it is a tragic romance. The filmmakers shaped their Young Bess into a fairly conventional romantic triangle (two women in love with the same man) complicated by the royal status of the characters. Diane, contemporary in setting and made only two years later, is cast in exactly the same mold, but the earlier film is much superior. Its scale is intimate, its script tightly focused: there are scarcely any exterior shots, and virtually no mention of the religious conflict that was threatening to tear the country apart. It also helps immensely that the story is enacted by a superb British cast.
The screen story has the young Elizabeth, a lonely and troubled outcast, haunted by her own father’s judicial murder of her mother, Anne Boleyn. While laced with humor, the film’s prologue accurately depicts a time when lust and dynastic expediency expunged any trace of warmth from the Tudors’ family life.
It took some doing to fit the Seymour episode into the desired romantic mold. The chief liberty involves the ages of the principals—the historical Elizabeth was only 14 at the time of her relationship with Seymour, while the admiral was nearly 40. Casting minimized the age difference: Stewart Granger, handsome and beardless, was made to seem younger than his actual 39 years, while Jean Simmons was a mature 23 at the time of filming. That the two stars were actually married to each other could not have escaped 1950s moviegoers and may have helped to legitimize the rather dubious relationship portrayed on screen. Simmons was a fresh face in Hollywood, having made a strong impression with her tender Ophelia in Laurence Olivier’s Hamlet and her young Estella in David Lean’s Great Expectations. It was the latter role, with its taste of vinegar, that surely recommended her for the challenge of portraying the strong-willed princess. Granger, an established swashbuckling lead (Scaramouche, The Prisoner of Zenda), brought an effortless charm to the admiral in love with two women.
The “other woman” —here no less than Catherine Parr, widow of Henry VIII and (secretly) the wife of Tom Seymour—was played by Deborah Kerr. Filling out the strong British cast were Kay Walsh (memorable as Nancy Sykes in David Lean’s Oliver Twist) as Elizabeth’s sympathetic governess; the plangent-voiced Guy Rolfe as Edward (Ned) Seymour (Tom’s brother and the villain in this telling); and Kathleen Byron, so memorable as the crazed nun of Black Narcissus, as Ned’s manipulative wife, Ann. A casting coup resulted in Charles Laughton recapitulating his most famous role as Henry VIII—a task he accomplishes with an appropriate sense of danger as well as humor. Rex Thompson, as the young King Edward VI, was the only American in the cast.
M-G-M mounted the Technicolor production entirely in Hollywood, with scarcely a single exterior shot. The choice is entirely appropriate for this intimate story, which has Elizabeth falling in love with Tom Seymour, experiencing dejection at the news of Tom’s secret marriage to the dowager queen, and continuing to show such emotion for Tom that she is sent away from court. When Catherine suddenly dies, Elizabeth and Tom enjoy a single night of love before Tom is hounded to death by his power-hungry brother, who heads the Privy Council. Elizabeth treasures the memory in her wounded heart.
The film omits the fact that the dashing Seymour was a rogue and a traitor who may have married Queen Catherine for financial gain—just as he later may have contemplated marrying a princess (either Mary or Elizabeth) and even kidnapping the young King Edward. Elizabeth’s governess, Mrs. Ashley, seems to have abetted their involvement, which involved at the very least some unbecoming sexual horseplay: invading Bess’s bedchamber, striking the crown princess “on the buttocks familiarly,” and even on one occasion cutting up her black dress with his sword—this much is attested from court proceedings. Elizabeth kept her own feelings private. Into that silence the writer is free to tread, and that is how Margaret Irwin and the screenwriters invented their plausible tragic romance.
For composer Miklós Rózsa, 1953 was a true annus mirabilis. In addition to Young Bess, that year would see the completion or release of four other substantial and richly varied film scores (Julius Caesar, All the Brothers Were Valiant, The Story of Three Loves and Knights of the Round Table) as well as the composition (during a summer break!) of his magnificent violin concerto, the piece that would return him triumphantly to the symphonic concert world that he had largely abandoned on moving to America 13 years earlier.
Young Bess was the fourth in Rózsa’s long series of period romances for M-G-M. The composer had taken pride in his historical researches for the earlier Quo Vadis, Ivanhoe and Plymouth Adventure. He had even incorporated a bit of Dowland into his score for Julius Caesar, based on an Elizabethan drama. Unfortunately, Rózsa left no sustained commentary on Young Bess. A solitary reference in Double Life relates: “I was delighted to accept it and immersed myself in the music of the Tudor period. The picture was not a masterpiece but had lovely scenes and fine moments.” The studio documentation, however, makes it clear that the composer’s period research for this picture was as scrupulous as for its predecessors. He made particular use of the Fitzwilliam Virginal Book (formerly known as Queen Elizabeth’s Virginal Book in the mistaken belief that she owned a copy). This collection of Elizabethan and Jacobean tunes was made sometime after 1609 and was available to Rózsa in an 1899 edition from his own publisher, Breitkopf & Härtel. It provided content for the source music and inspiration for the dramatic themes. Indeed, as with the Cantigas de Santa María employed in El Cid, it is sometimes difficult to discern where the period material leaves off and the original Rózsa begins.
Young Bess earned respectful reviews and a couple of Oscar nominations (for art direction and costumes) and then entered the limbo of lost films that characterized movies before the age of home video and cable television. Only the occasional telecast kept its memory alive. M-G-M, which had pioneered the “original soundtrack album” with Madame Bovary, Quo Vadis and Ivanhoe, inexplicably withdrew from the field and issued no more Rózsa film music until Ben-Hur, six years later. (Astonishingly, the adventurous classical division of MGM Records issued three major Rózsa albums during the same period.)
But the score was never entirely forgotten. A prominent 1971 textbook, A Primer for Film-Making by Kenneth H. Roberts and Win Sharples Jr., featured the latter’s analysis of Young Bess as a model of film scoring. It is amusing to contemplate a generation of “movie brat” directors in the age of disco being asked to learn their craft from a forgotten costume romance of the 1950s. In 1972, a writer in the very first issue of the Miklós Rózsa Society’s Pro Musica Sana celebrated the score as a masterpiece “second only to Ben-Hur” in Rózsa’s oeuvre. Even if few others endorsed that judgment, the score nevertheless began to receive more attention. The composer extracted a short suite for his first retrospective Polydor anthology LP in 1974. Two years later, Elmer Bernstein chose Young Bess as the first Rózsa selection in his important Film Music Collection (FSM Box 01), recording 43 minutes of music, as reconstructed by Christopher Palmer, with a modest studio orchestra. And in 1984, in his very last orchestral score, an ailing Rózsa responded to a commission from the American Guild of Organists with an extended “Fantasy on Themes from Young Bess” for organ, brass and timpani, a work premiered at St. Mary’s Cathedral in San Francisco and later recorded in London with players from the Royal Philharmonic. Curiously, all three of the modern Young Bess recordings make extensive revisions to the finale. The present album marks the first official release of Rózsa’s original version.
The cue titles in the following discussion correspond to the studio cue sheet; informal titles for certain leitmotivs, however, are borrowed from Win Sharples Jr.’s notes for Elmer Bernstein’s 1976 Film Music Collection recording. Pre-recordings to guide singers and dancers were made on September 30, 1952, and on January 21–22, 1953; the bulk of the score was recorded March 2–4, 1953, with an orchestra specified as “over 35 men.” As with Julius Caesar, the music for Young Bess was recorded stereophonically and presented that way for initial engagements in London and at Radio City Music Hall, where a lavish “coronation” pageant accompanied screenings. (The film was also exhibited in an early “widescreen” aspect ratio of 1.75:1.) Unfortunately, M-G-M later discarded its early stereo tracks, and the music is presented here in mono. For the “Prelude” and “Finale,” separate “sweetener” recordings were made of the string section, presumably as overdubs to suggest a larger ensemble; these have been used to create a stereo field for this CD release, and a subtle stereo reverb has been added to the entire recording to create a consistent ambience.
- 1. Prelude
- The score opens with a heraldic fanfare, yielding immediately to a solemn and richly scored processional that suggests Edward Elgar as much as anything from the 16th century. Elgar was a composer whom Rózsa often echoed when he needed to evoke the quintessence of imperial Britain. The Edwardian master has long enjoyed a special status close to England’s musical heart—indeed, Elizabeth (1998) similarly exploits that sentiment by employing an actual quotation (from Elgar’s Enigma Variations) at a critical moment. Rózsa, however, had a particular genius for assimilating his models and integrating them into his own musical fabric. So it is with this theme, which Sharples called “Bess as Queen.” Stated only once, it soon yields to a lyric melody that will serve as the central love theme; Sharples called it “Love and Loss.” Atypically for Rózsa, the “Prelude” does not find closure by a return to its opening theme but instead moves directly into a new melody to accompany the scrolling prologue text.
- Hatfield House
- This third theme, which Rózsa initially called the “See Saw Song,” merits some comment. It is
associated with Hatfield House, the country residence where the young Elizabeth spends much of her childhood, often
banished there on account of her “bastardly” origins as “Anne Boleyn’s brat.” The tune
is original with Rózsa and was written and recorded before filming, for it is frequently sung as a nursery rhyme
by Bess’s governess, Mrs. Ashley (Kay Walsh), and often repeated during Bess’s troubled childhood:
Here we go up, up, up,The film’s legal cue sheet attributes the words to “Anon.”
Up in the sky so high!
Here we go down, down, down,
- 2. Reminiscing
- It is the night of Queen Mary’s death: Elizabeth will be queen by morning. Her aged governess and her steward, Mr. Parry (Cecil Kellaway), recall the turmoil of Bess’s youth and begin to sing the “Hatfield” tune. The orchestra picks up the melody, in Rózsa’s typical imitative counterpoint, to initiate a flashback. Lightweight tunes in the Renaissance manner accompany the brief happy moments of King Henry VIII (Charles Laughton) and Anne Boleyn, as witnessed by their infant daughter, Bess.
- Anne Boleyn’s Execution/Exit Anne Boleyn
- A drum roll announces the death of Bess’s mother. The child—now “illegitimate”—is banished to Hatfield, accompanied by a sad variation on the “Hatfield” tune.
- 3. Changing Mothers
- Henry recalls a slightly older Bess (Noreen Corcoran) to London to meet mother number three. Rózsa scores Mrs. Ashley’s narration (“This one is German,” referring to Anne of Cleves) cheerfully, but she and Bess notice the king’s gloomy face and conclude the marriage will not last long.
- King Henry
- “In no time at all we were back again to be inspected by our fourth mother.” The woodwind choir toys with a phrase of “Hatfield” as the skeptical child confronts her intimidating father.
- 4. New Stepmother/Katherine Howard’s Execution
- Some warmth enters the scoring as Bess takes a liking to Katherine Howard (Dawn Addams), but this soon gives way to another drum roll for the woman’s execution.
- Hatfield Again
- Another banishment results, accompanied by the now-humorous reiteration of “Hatfield.” The music tells us Bess’s destination even before the words are pronounced. Note the surprise pause toward the end, almost as if the child is literally being booted out of the royal palace. Rózsa reprises the forlorn “Exit Anne Boleyn” material for Bess’s frustrated tantrum after the execution: she vows that she will not to suffer this ordeal again.
- 5. Tom Seymour’s Mission
- Years have passed. Admiral Tom Seymour (Stewart Granger) arrives at Hatfield to seek out the grown princess, historically 14 years of age but here played by a more mature Jean Simmons. A flute solo over strings brings the first lasting warmth to the scoring as Tom gains Bess’s confidence by speaking tenderly of her mother. The tune is still “Hatfield,” but the emotion is deeper now, suggesting the first stirrings of the girl’s heart. Tom persuades the hostile princess to accompany him to London to meet yet another stepmother, Catherine Parr, and the music enjoys a rich contrapuntal development, with violins soaring above. A stately new theme emerges for the majesty of the palace.
- Bess is to live at Whitehall Palace under the care of the new queen. The “Whitehall” theme (presented by strings) bespeaks gentleness and homely security. There is a wistful reference to “Hatfield” as Bess recalls “another Katherine—Katherine Howard,” who met a cruel fate. The appearance of Queen Catherine (Deborah Kerr), all sweetness and light, dispels Bess’s melancholy humor. Catherine’s theme, oboe over gentle strings, receives a leisurely statement in full A-B-A form, as if to emphasize the new stability after all the fragmentary “up and down” references to “Hatfield.” The film’s cue sheet credits the theme to Rózsa, although its first phrase derives from an anonymous “Alman” in the Fitzwilliam Virginal Book (FVB No. 14).
- Prince of Wales
- After another reference to “Hatfield” (for Bess seeking resemblances to her mother in a mirror), we meet the young Prince of Wales (Rex Thompson), who is here presented as a frightened child amid a conspiratorial court. (The actual Edward, only four years Bess’s junior, was a highly educated prince and ardent Protestant reformer who corresponded with his sister in Latin.) The music is a mocking marche militaire, with muted brass mimicking the sound of toy trumpets.
- 6. Eavesdropping
- Bess and Edward share their concerns about overheard conversations between the king and queen. A bass suspense figure accompanies Henry’s angry disapproval of Catherine’s religious sympathies—the film’s only reference to the great conflict of the age. Edward cynically predicts, “After the execution, they’ll send you back to Hatfield.” Bess’s retort is a slap, punctuated by a semi-comic musical outburst. Without missing a beat, Rózsa picks up the bass figure (a kind of motive for Henry) and transforms it into a grand statement for a transition to Admiral Seymour commanding the English fleet.
- 7. Dies Irae
- For the king on his deathbed, Rózsa provides one of his noblest inventions. It is a passacaglia: a set of variations over a repeated ground bass figure, here the plainchant Dies Irae melody. The music weaves masterfully through the dialogue, expressing the grief and fear of the assembled court and family as well as Henry’s own desperation. Henry surveys all the “sheep” and fixes at last upon Bess, “the black sheep,” for whom he predicts a great future, the theme now rising on the violins. Then the music falls back into solemn repose.
- 8. Princess Elizabeth
- Hollow woodwind chords describe the fearful palace atmosphere, alternating with a scurrying string figure as Bess in her nightdress rushes—indiscreetly—through the halls to seek the comfort of Tom.
- Appointment With Love
- Alone with this new father figure, Bess seems to confess her love for Tom. As a clarinet introduces the romantic theme from the “Prelude,” it becomes apparent that the scurrying strings from the previous cue have actually prefigured this melody: Bess’s feelings are unconscious and (at this point) not reciprocated by Tom. The entire sequence is a fine example of Rózsa unifying a series of disconnected images through his music. Tom reassures Bess—who has once again been banished to Hatfield—that they will meet again. They kiss, and Tom sends Bess back to her room, although not before encountering Ann Seymour (Kathleen Byron), the suspicious wife of Ned Seymour (Guy Rolfe), the Lord Protector—and Tom’s brother.
- 9. Long Live the King
- A fanfare salutes Edward, the new king.
- Anne Boleyn’s Daughter
- Ann Seymour interviews Bess with open hostility. “Hatfield” erupts violently at the end of the scene when the hot-tempered Bess flings an inkwell at her tormentor. Bess once again returns to Hatfield.
- Dinner Music
- In the following scene, a sinuous and courtly Renaissance dance (arranged by Rózsa) accompanies Tom arguing with Ned and Ann at supper. The alternating phrases of the dance, with harpsichord accompaniment, lend an ironic edge to the dagger-laden dialogue as the scene plays out beneath the ink-stained wall that still bears the traces of Bess’s “royal fling.” This music is closely based on the anonymous “Packington’s Pownde” (FVB No. 177).
- 10. Dreams
- Bess dreamily confesses her love of Tom to Mrs. Ashley. An introductory clarinet duet blossoms into the love music on the violins.
- The music pauses abruptly, then continues in sober fashion as Mrs. Ashley shatters Bess’s illusions: “He’s in love with another woman.”
- 11. Disillusion
- That night Bess witnesses a rendezvous of the secret lovers—the woman is Queen Catherine! Tom has been in love with her all along, but has been preempted first by Henry and then by his own brother’s jealous fear of letting Tom get too close to the throne. After a downward unraveling of Bess’s love music, a new theme of “Heartbreak” is introduced by violins and then played by the solo cello, ending with an ornate trill.
- 12. The King’s Diary/The King’s Finances/The King’s English
- The story is now related by the young King Edward, writing in his diary (with comic misspellings). Although Edward lives under the thumb of the Lord Protector, it is the other Seymour brother, Tom, who befriends the boy and even slips gifts past the royal guards. The toy march introduced earlier is here extended wonderfully as the boy paces through the palace with his model ship. The bassoon pipes away, accompanied by delicious pizzicati and muted trumpets. This music is perhaps the finest comic invention in a career far better known for musical tragedy and grandeur. One of the composer’s very first compositions (at the age of seven) was a “student march,” and one marvels at his ability to change the mood of this tragic love story with such a lively intermezzo. Rózsa adds weight to the scoring (at 2:18) as Edward reports on Admiral Seymour’s naval victories.
- Returning Hero
- Transitional fanfares salute the ebullient conquering admiral, while Ned and Ann react with jealousy.
- 13. Your Majesty/Royal Tact
- Tom lifts the boy king so that crowds assembled below the palace windows can see both of them, prompting another fanfare. Now openly married to Catherine, Tom returns home and embraces her, accompanied by a brisk statement of her theme. Bess’s greeting is cooler. She had intervened with Edward to allow Tom and Catherine to marry; now she wishes to keep her distance from the happy couple. “Hatfield,” in a minor key, accompanies Bess’s aloof resolve, initially with awkward stresses on the last note of each phrase. But Rózsa develops this theme wonderfully through the shifting moods of the reunion until Tom’s buoyant good humor triumphs and the love theme blossoms openly.
- 14. Old Harry
- A sea shanty with rippling accompaniment takes Bess and Tom sailing on the new flagship, the Great Harry, where Bess demonstrates her military and political acumen to the enthusiastic admiral.
- The shanty winds down ambivalently as they return home, Tom being skeptical of Bess’s grand dreams. (She is after all only second in line to the throne of a bankrupt nation.) The melody first sinks into the cellos and basses and then dissipates into broken woodwind fragments. But as Bess paints a grand vision of English naval greatness we hear the “Bess as Queen” processional from the “Prelude.” Rózsa has held his “main theme” in reserve for nearly an hour and this will be its only statement in the entire narrative. The love music returns as Bess wallows in sentiment: “You’ll be with me, Tom, always.” Catherine appears (along with her theme on oboe); Tom rushes to embrace his wife with obvious passion—leaving Bess behind as her love music returns, now hobbled by dissonant accents in the bass line.
- 15. Love Will Find Out the Way
- Politics intervene in the form of a proposed dynastic marriage for Bess to a prince of Denmark, and a party is arranged for a Danish ambassador. A tenor voice (Ernest Newton) is heard in the background singing a romantic air—actually an anonymous popular lyric from the seventeenth century. The tune first appeared in Playford’s Musicks Recreation on the Lyra Viol (1652).
- 16. King’s Ballad
- The music, now purely instrumental, continues under double-edged dialogue. The tune (“Pastime with Good Company”) is by none other than King Henry VIII himself, who, as a typical Renaissance prince, was an accomplished versifier and composer as well as ruler. (Henry’s tunes also appear in A Man for All Seasons and Anne of the Thousand Days, both scored by Georges Delerue.) Rózsa’s arrangement features his own contrapuntal bass line and orchestration, in keeping with the notion that 1953 movie audiences would find an authentic period performance “grating to the ear.”
- 17. Dansk Dans
- Bess dances with the ambassador. The music possesses something of the aspect of the galliard, the most popular dance of the period and a favorite of the historical Elizabeth. The choreography, the tempo, and the modern-instrument orchestration are, however, more sedate than the 16th-century originals, which involved athletic leaps that some of Elizabeth’s contemporaries judged unseemly, and the rhythm lacks the galliard’s characteristic hemiola.
- A Toye
- Bess flirts incautiously throughout the evening, effectively scuttling the marriage plan. Here she toys with Tom Seymour’s innocent young page, Barnaby (Robert Arthur). This source music derives from a piece by Giles Farnaby (FVB No. 270), although the “B” section may be original with Rózsa. A “toye” is an obscure Renaissance form. Could Rózsa, in a whimsical mood, have chosen Farnaby for the rhyme on “Barnaby”?
- 18. Desperate Love
- At the evening’s end, a furious Tom berates Bess for her indiscretion and reveals that she has aroused his jealousy. Music enters when he slaps her, then surges boldly into the love theme as the pair embrace and admit their love.
- 19. Crossroads
- Bess removes herself to Hatfield, where “Heartbreak” (see track 11) is heard as she sits before a rainswept window. Mr. Parry brings news that Catherine is dying. In music that was dialed out of the film (beginning at 0:39), Rózsa accompanies Bess’s frantic questioning of Parry with a repeated phrase of “Love and Loss” that seems to go nowhere. This is apparently the only significant piece of music left on the cutting-room floor. (Surviving documentation cites a cue called “Frustration”; if it exists, it does not seem to have been recorded.)
- Catherine Parr’s End
- The queen is on her deathbed. (The film omits to mention that she died in childbirth, a fearfully common fate in former times.) As in Catherine’s first scene—and in contrast with the other turbulent leitmotivs—the lovely tune plays all the way through, this time for strings alone, a cello solo replacing the oboe’s plaintive voice. Fitful references to “Hatfield” signal Catherine’s awareness of Bess (who is in fact away at Hatfield), but Catherine’s own theme returns on solo violin as she bestows forgiveness and a final blessing upon Tom’s other love.
- 20. The King’s Birthday
- Another period adaptation accompanies a royal birthday reception—Bess’s first escape from country isolation in many months. The tune is John Bull’s “The King’s Hunt” (FVB No. 135), although its middle section (0:47–1:10) may be Rózsa’s invention.
- 21. Bad News
- Privately, Edward reveals that Tom is in grave danger, his desires for the royal princess having placed him at odds with the Privy Council and a jealous Ned. Bess’s anguish (“Kill him?!”) is compounded when new guardians are installed to watch over her at Hatfield. The nervous, intense music (note the pulsing rhythmic accompaniment) recalls Rózsa’s noir style of the 1940s.
- Night Visitor
- Fear and dejection pervade the nocturnal atmosphere (low-range flute at 0:34). Bess’s thoughts are with Tom, but (beginning at 1:26) the music can only toy nervously with the first phrase of the love theme beneath a quivering suspense tremolo. Bess glimpses a dark figure. Then a solo flute takes over, recalling the lovers’ first meeting as it now introduces their last—the visitor is Tom—and the theme rises to a passionate orchestral climax.
- A cutaway (at 3:12) signals the approaching dawn—always the harbinger of doom in a tragic romance (cf. Tristan und Isolde, Romeo and Juliet). The theme, tenderly prolonged, blossoms one final time (cello and violin solos with harp). After Tom departs, leaving Bess alone to face her persecutors, the music (at 6:00) turns to a minatory variant of “Heartbreak,” punctuated ominously by pizzicato lower strings.
- 22. Inquisition
- Bess responds to accusations of treason, even to the point of striking Ned with a riding crop, but then collapses from the stress. This entire cue is based on the motive of “Heartbreak,” heard with unaccustomed brassy dissonance (in trombones) for Bess’s collapse and then resignedly in the English horn (cf. Act III of Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde) as Tom is seen in prison.
- 23. Alone
- Another muffled drum roll (see track 39), echoing the film’s beginning, announces Tom’s execution to Bess and her powerless young brother. There is tenderness as Bess comforts the boy. As she exits from the screen, leaving only a trailing shadow, the “unraveled” love music of “Disillusion” (track 11) rises to an anguished pitch and then fades to silence.
- 24. Long Live the Queen
- It is morning. Years have passed, and we are back at Hatfield with Mrs. Ashley and Mr. Parry. Fanfares (repeating the earlier “Long Live the King”) sound for the new queen. Reminiscing wistfully, the old guardians sing, “Here we go up, up, up, / Up in the sky so high!” (not heard on this CD) and then hum the next two verses (actually the voices of William Lee and Betty Noyes, see track 41). Then a door opens to reveal their first view of Bess as queen.
- 25. Finale
- “Hatfield” enters for a final time, now triumphant, but carrying with it all the memories of loneliness and loss. The queen advances to a balcony to greet a cheering multitude, which remains unseen: this will be an intimate drama to the last. Instead, the camera moves in for a close-up on a face made wise through suffering. Now the great processional theme returns in full orchestral splendor, rolling majestically over a symbolic vision of the crown of England (with a reprise of the opening fanfare) and the end cast scroll. Chimes add a blaze of glory to this apotheosis, which ranks as one of Rózsa’s noblest summations.
- 26. See-Saw Song (source vocal)
- “See-Saw Song” was the working title for the theme known as “Hatfield” or “Ups and Downs.” This version, heard at the beginning of the film (before track 2), is sung by Kay Walsh and Cecil Kellaway as Mrs. Ashley and Mr. Parry; the recording comes from the dialogue track.
- 27. Reminiscing (original version)
- An unused variant of track 2 (utilizing a solo cello on the melody) provides a more sober introduction to the narrative.
- 28. Exit Anne Boleyn (original version)
- The string passage at 0:32–0:44 is doubled at a higher octave than in the film version of this cue (track 2).
- 29. Hatfield Again (original version)
- This is an alternate, earlier take of track 4.
- 30. Up Again (deleted cue)
- A short, unused reprise of the Hatfield theme was written and recorded for one of Bess’s childhood returns to court. Had it been used in the film, it would have come between “Tom Seymour’s Mission” and “Whitehall” (track 5).
- 31. King’s Barge (source fanfares, drums)
- Trumpets and drums sound when the king’s barge is summoned to convey his majesty, Queen Catherine and Bess from Tom Seymour’s ship to safety after French vessels are sighted in the distance. An angry exchange between the king and Bess leads to the king’s collapse; the next music heard is the “Dies Irae” passacaglia underscoring his death scene (track 7).
- 32. Long Live the King (alternate fanfare)
- Rózsa presumably composed this fanfare for young Edward (see track 9); here it is voiced by trombones and cornets with more “adult” authority than the final version.
- 33. Anne Boleyn’s Daughter (original version)
- Bess’s toss of the inkwell is here underscored with a more dissonant orchestral “sting” (see track 9).
- 34. See-Saw Song (pre-recording)
- Rózsa supervised four “pre-record” versions of the “Hatfield” tune sung by a professional tenor voice (Ernest Newton) to guide the screen performers. Note how the spare piano accompaniment and the tenor’s vocal timbre make the music seem more genuinely Elizabethan than the actual soundtrack version, sung by the actors Kay Walsh and Cecil Kellaway.
- 35. Love Will Find Out the Way (pre-recording)
- The pre-recorded version of this pseudo-Elizabethan song contains a first verse that is not included in the final film version (track 15).
- 36. King’s Ballad (original version)
- The film version of this cue (track 16) is slightly shorter than this pre-recording.
- 37. Dansk Dans (pre-recording)
- This piano rehearsal track for the dance sequence (track 17) was played by Jakob Gimpel (who also played on track 34).
- 38. Dansk Dans (original version)
- This orchestral version is shorter than the piano track but still somewhat longer than the final dance (track 17).
- 39. Tom Seymour’s Execution (source drums)
- Prior to “Alone” (track 23), a drum roll announces Tom’s execution and a steady, ominous beat accompanies him to the scaffold.
- 40. Her Majesty (alternate fanfares)
- Fanfares—presumably replaced by those in track 24—suggest a more elaborate scene than the final version.
- 41. See-Saw Song (source vocal)
- This hummed version (by William Lee and Betty Noyes) picks up from the verses sung by Cecil Kellaway and Kay Walsh at the very end of the film, just prior to the appearance of their beloved Bess as Queen of England (“Finale,” track 25). —