The Song of Bernadette (Alfred Newman's Score)

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brendangcarroll

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The Song of Bernadette (Alfred Newman's Score)

PostSat Sep 03, 2016 1:15 pm

Dear Film Music Experts Lurking Here...

I am sure you are all familiar with Alfred' Newman's marvellous Academy Award winning score for "The Song of Bernadette" (1943) - well, I have a question for you all:

As you may know, Newman's score was so popular, a 4 disc commercial recording was made and issued by Decca, conducted by the composer, only the second film score to be recorded for commercial release (the first was Miklos Rozsa's JUNGLE BOOK). In fact it could have been the 3rd such release had plans to issue a broadcast performance of Korngold's score for "The Adventures of Robin Hood" back in 1938 not been abandoned owing to technical shortcomings in that recording.

However, I have been unable to find any background information about this famous, one could say unique Decca recording, I would love to know where (which studio) it was made, the precise dates of the recording sessions, which orchestra was used, and how the recording came about. Unlike today, back then it was highly unusual to record symphonic film music. In the case of JUNGLE BOOK, that was released with narration (by Leo Genn) so was not quite the same thing, being part of the educational/childrens' market rather than for film music afficionados.

If anyone knows the details, I hope you'll share them here. I would also love to know if the original metal masters survive for this historic recording in the Decca vaults.

Thanks for reading.

BRENDAN CARROLL
"Korngold has so much talent he could give half away and still have enough left for himself..." Giacomo Puccini (1921)
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bobfells

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Re: The Song of Bernadette (Alfred Newman's Score)

PostSat Sep 03, 2016 1:38 pm

Dear Brendan,

You call upon film music experts for assistance. Well, there's nobody like that around where I am so I thought I would reply instead. I'm ashamed to admit that I have never seen the film and I'm equally ignorant of this particular music score. But I love Newman's work although my favorite themes are somewhat off the beaten track: The themes for THE HOUSE OF ROTHSCHILD, DODSWORTH, HISTORY IS MADE AT NIGHT, among others.

At any rate, I too hope that somebody can answer your excellent questions. I might add to your overview that in those days I don't believe there was any over-dubbing or blending of several takes to create a flawless performance that didn't exist in real life. I think that came in a little later in the late 40s when magnetic tape was starting to be used. Before that, if something wasn't right in a take, the whole track would have to be performed again. This is the main reason why I prefer to listen to live concerts and operas instead of studio sessions. The sound may be superior but I fear the performance has been doctored.

Bob
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Re: The Song of Bernadette (Alfred Newman's Score)

PostSat Sep 03, 2016 1:51 pm

Hi Bob

Thanks for replying. I am astonished you don't know this beautiful music. Here is a taste from the original soundtrack...uploaded by my friend "Soundtrack Fred" on YOUTUBE...

https://youtu.be/pC9sHhKnzMQ

And here's a link to MY upload of part of the 78rpm set (that I am lucky enough to own), and the original subject of this thread...

https://youtu.be/v_TpFogixf8

Enjoy!

BRENDAN
"Korngold has so much talent he could give half away and still have enough left for himself..." Giacomo Puccini (1921)
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Re: The Song of Bernadette (Alfred Newman's Score)

PostSat Sep 03, 2016 2:40 pm

Thanks Brendan. There's a lot of things I am trying to catch up on before I expire (I'll be 66 this month) or before I can only drool into my oatmeal at some assisted living place. BERNADETTE is obviously one of them and I appreciate the two links you provided. I tend to have a tin ear in that it takes several hearings for me to "get" the music and it is a rare piece that I like the first time I hear it. My tastes and time have shifted more to classical music in recent years - currently I'm working on BORIS GODUNOV - but I always will make time for a Golden Age film score that I missed somehow along the way. Thanks again!

Bob
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Re: The Song of Bernadette (Alfred Newman's Score)

PostSat Sep 03, 2016 6:15 pm

Brendan, I'm making up for lost time. I found the four-78 rpm set on ebay for $16 and bought it. I will digitize the sides and run them through my Magix audio software. Looking forward to this.

Bob
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Re: The Song of Bernadette (Alfred Newman's Score)

PostSat Sep 03, 2016 11:51 pm

Wow! That was a bargain!

I look forward to the results.

Please can you make a digital photo of the label of your discs? I'd be interested to compare it to mine.

Best wishes

BRENDAN
"Korngold has so much talent he could give half away and still have enough left for himself..." Giacomo Puccini (1921)
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Richard Finegan

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related question

PostSun Sep 04, 2016 3:19 am

brendangcarroll wrote:Dear Film Music Experts Lurking Here...

...plans to issue a broadcast performance of Korngold's score for "The Adventures of Robin Hood" back in 1938 not been abandoned owing to technical shortcomings in that recording.
BRENDAN CARROLL


Even if this was never officially issued, is there a way to hear it? Has it ever been "unofficially" issued, on LP, tape, CD?
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Re: The Song of Bernadette (Alfred Newman's Score)

PostSun Sep 04, 2016 3:33 am

Richard Finegan wrote:
brendangcarroll wrote:Dear Film Music Experts Lurking Here...

...plans to issue a broadcast performance of Korngold's score for "The Adventures of Robin Hood" back in 1938 not been abandoned owing to technical shortcomings in that recording.
BRENDAN CARROLL


Even if this was never officially issued, is there a way to hear it? Has it ever been "unofficially" issued, on LP, tape, CD?


Delos issued an LP in 1975 that coupled the 1938 broadcast recording of AoRH with a CBC radio doc made by Tony Thomas in 1969. The latter includes excerpts of an interview done with Flynn c. 1958 (around the time of the JANE EYRE stage debacle). I don't know if there was a later CD release. Here's a link showing the Delos LP:

https://www.discogs.com/Erich-Wolfgang- ... se/8701115" target="_blank
yer pal Dave
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Re: The Song of Bernadette (Alfred Newman's Score)

PostSun Sep 04, 2016 4:18 am

Regarding the 1938 Robin Hood broadcast, I should like to point out that the old 1975 Delos LP (later re-issued on CD by FACET, nla) was severely edited and the transfer of the original shellacs was very poorly done.


You can hear the full, unexpurgated broadcast with all of the announxements and in far better sound as an "extra" on the 2 disc special edition DVD (and Bluray) of the movie itself!

Brendan Carroll
"Korngold has so much talent he could give half away and still have enough left for himself..." Giacomo Puccini (1921)
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related question

PostSun Sep 04, 2016 4:23 am

Thanks for the info, Dave and Brendan!
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Re: The Song of Bernadette (Alfred Newman's Score)

PostSun Sep 04, 2016 5:16 am

Re the Robin Hood recording, you can hear one of the technical glitches right at the start. Announcer Ken Carpenter (uncredited) seems to have a delayed echo that I think is the result of a second open microphone, possibly Rathbone's. Once we're past Carpenter's opening bit we hear no more of that echo.
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Re: The Song of Bernadette (Alfred Newman's Score)

PostSun Sep 04, 2016 5:52 am

brendangcarroll wrote:Regarding the 1938 Robin Hood broadcast, I should like to point out that the old 1975 Delos LP (later re-issued on CD by FACET, nla) was severely edited and the transfer of the original shellacs was very poorly done.
You can hear the full, unexpurgated broadcast with all of the announxements and in far better sound as an "extra" on the 2 disc special edition DVD (and Bluray) of the movie itself!!


Thanks for the info, and for reminding me that I'd forgotten about the inclusion of the AoRH broadcast on that DVD set, which I own!
yer pal Dave
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Re: The Song of Bernadette (Alfred Newman's Score)

PostSun Sep 04, 2016 6:23 am

Brendan,

Re Song of Bernadette, the ebay seller helpfully provided a number of photos:

Image
Image
Image
Image
Image
Image

Any film where Charles Bickford plays a priest has got to be good!
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Re: The Song of Bernadette (Alfred Newman's Score)

PostSun Sep 04, 2016 7:55 am

Bob - thanks so much for the photos! This set is identical to that owned by Tony Thomas, but different to mine which is a British release with blue labels.

The best performance in this film is that of Gladys Cooper, superb as a stern, disbelieving, very cruel Nun.

She was nominated for the AA but lost to Katina Paxinou (For Whom the Bell Tolls)

I forgot to mention that the Blu ray of this film has an isolated score track in restored sound.
"Korngold has so much talent he could give half away and still have enough left for himself..." Giacomo Puccini (1921)
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Re: The Song of Bernadette (Alfred Newman's Score)

PostSun Sep 04, 2016 8:47 am

Having gone to Catholic schools back in the day when all the teachers were nuns, I can tell you that many of the older nuns were just like Glays Cooper. The younger ones were much nicer.
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Re: The Song of Bernadette (Alfred Newman's Score)

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Re: The Song of Bernadette (Alfred Newman's Score)

PostTue Sep 06, 2016 11:51 am

Thanks Lamar. I noticed that Victor Young recorded his score for FOR WHOM THE BELLS TOLL a couple of months before Newman's BERNADETTE.
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Re: The Song of Bernadette (Alfred Newman's Score)

PostWed Sep 07, 2016 12:34 am

Thanks for these excellent links Lamar!

I had quite forgotten about Victor Young's recording!

best wishes

BRENDAN
"Korngold has so much talent he could give half away and still have enough left for himself..." Giacomo Puccini (1921)
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Re: The Song of Bernadette (Alfred Newman's Score)

PostSun Sep 11, 2016 8:04 pm

The album of 78s for THE SONG OF BERNADETTE arrived in the mail so I promptly digitized side 1. I used the Magix audio cleaning software to remove/minimize noise, etc. and enhance the dynamics. Here is the result and please let me know where my rapidly deteriorating hearing has misled me:

https://oldhollywoodincolor.files.wordp ... side-1.mp3" target="_blank
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Re: The Song of Bernadette (Alfred Newman's Score)

PostSun Sep 11, 2016 11:23 pm

Hi Bob

Well, I guess you did your best with these discs. The recording was issued on LP decades ago and even then the album producer apologised and said the original always had issues. The interesting thing is that Side 1 beegins with the pe-credits overture from the roadshow edition, NOT the film's main title. You can hear this in great remastered sound on the special Blu ray of the film.

It begs the question I originally asked - when was the Decca recording made and why didn't Decca simply license that "Overture" from Fox?

Any suggestions?

PS Do you like this score now or is it still not doing it for you? I think it's a masterpiece.
"Korngold has so much talent he could give half away and still have enough left for himself..." Giacomo Puccini (1921)
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Re: The Song of Bernadette (Alfred Newman's Score)

PostMon Sep 12, 2016 11:07 am

Brendan: "PS Do you like this score now or is it still not doing it for you? I think it's a masterpiece."

To be fair, it usually takes me several times to "get it" when listening to new music. So far, the SONG music hasn't clicked with me. But the process of digitizing the 78s may help the effort. Plus, I enjoy the challenge of using the software to improve the sound.
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Re: The Song of Bernadette (Alfred Newman's Score)

PostMon Sep 12, 2016 7:14 pm

Here is Side 2 that I digitized and used Magix software to minimize cracks, pops, and surface noise. I know that some pressings are known for noise and other for playing quiet. I'm not sure where these Decca sides come in but I am avoiding using a heavy bass to kill the surface noise because that kills much of the treble too. I also transferred sides 7 and 8 tonight, leaving 3 and 4, 5 and 6 for tomorrow.

Side 2:
https://oldhollywoodincolor.files.wordp ... -2-rev.mp3
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Re: The Song of Bernadette (Alfred Newman's Score)

PostMon Sep 12, 2016 11:02 pm

brendangcarroll wrote:It begs the question I originally asked - when was the Decca recording made and why didn't Decca simply license that "Overture" from Fox?


As noted above (and confirmed by Ruppli's Decca discography), the Bernadette score was recorded in Los Angeles on 17 December 1943. Ruppli doesn't provide any details about the members of the orchestra or the studio where the session was held.

Commercial release of film soundtrack material was still uncommon at the time. It would have required paying a fee to 20th Century-Fox, as well as renewing or re-negotiating the agreement when it was set to expire. By making a new recording, the record companies were able to have full control over the resulting masters. For comparative purposes, Bing Crosby, Deanna Durbin, Judy Garland, et al. always re-recorded their movie songs for Decca; they weren't dubbed from the studios' optical tracks. M-G-M's entry into the record market in 1946 was a major catalyst for change in the release of soundtracks.

Some soundtrack recordings that *did* get a commercial release prior to that time included:
"Knute Rockne Talks to His Team" from "Studebaker Champions" (1931)
"Carioca" by the RKO Studio Orchestra on Victor 24515 (issued 1934)
Snow White and Pinocchio selections on Victor
Some Bobby Breen sides on Bluebird (1937)
A couple of Paul Robeson sides on HMV (1940)

There are probaby more, but this gives an idea of the relative scarcity of the practice.

-HA
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Re: The Song of Bernadette (Alfred Newman's Score)

PostTue Sep 13, 2016 7:37 am

Dear Harold

Many thanks for all of this extra detail. All very helpful.

Of course this raises a number of questions for me. I have never been able to gain access to the archives of American Decca where much still exists I am sure, awaiting research.

Part of my interest lies in the curious case of Decca's recording of "Tomorrow" the tone poem written by Erich Wolfgang Korngold for the 1943 film "The Constant Nymph " which was definitely made (with Korngold himself conducting) but never actually issued. The reasons why are unknown but a supposed shellac shortage thanks to the war is usually cited.

Concerning the commercial release of film music, I suppose one should include the excerpts of Arthur Bliss' fine score to Korda's "Things to Come" (conducted by Muir Matheson for HMV) as possibly the first to be made (in 1936) though I once saw a 10" 78 of the theme from Steiner's "Bird of Paradise"!

Would that count as the first or are there even earlier examples?
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Re: The Song of Bernadette (Alfred Newman's Score)

PostTue Sep 13, 2016 9:09 am

Brendan,

A couple of questions. You seem to be referring to commercial studio recordings of film music made separately from the soundtrack recordings, while Harold seems to refer to soundtrack recordings that were issued on 78s. Are we mixing our terms?

Also, I noticed that you posted on YT a while back an acetate that Korngold made in 1942 of "Tomorrow." I assume that is not the commercial recording that you said you are seeking. Then is the acetate you posted part of the soundtrack?

I noticed this track on YT conducted by Louis Levy from THE GHOUL (1933):
https://youtu.be/zDNoUMICiuI



Bob
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Re: The Song of Bernadette (Alfred Newman's Score)

PostTue Sep 13, 2016 9:34 am

Dear Bob (and Harold)

I began this thread principally about the commercial recording of Newman's BERNADETTE score, but we've kind of included some soundtrack issues too. The recordings of Bliss and Steiner I referred earlier were definitely commercial re-recordings, not soundtrack dubbings.

The acetate I uploaded to YOUTUBE in 2011 of "Tomorrow" conducted by Korngold with Clemence Groves as soloist was gufted to me by Mrs Groves late son and is a direct recording of the soundtrack recording as used in the film (Take 1). It was never issued commercially.

Since writing earlier, i recall another significant "soundtrack" shellac disc that was issued by Columbia in December 1941 but in the UK only, of the Warsaw Concerto by Richard Addinsell (direct from the soundtrack of the film "Dangerous Moonight") with no soloist credited. The soloist was Louis Kentner. This disc was released due to overwhelming demand for a recording, following the success of the movie.

Later, a commerial recording was made with (I think) Harriet Cohen as soloist.

That's all folks!
"Korngold has so much talent he could give half away and still have enough left for himself..." Giacomo Puccini (1921)
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Re: The Song of Bernadette (Alfred Newman's Score)

PostThu Sep 22, 2016 5:02 am

Harold Aherne wrote:Some soundtrack recordings that *did* get a commercial release prior to that time included:

"Carioca" by the RKO Studio Orchestra on Victor 24515 (issued 1934)

-HA


"Carioca" was not an actual soundtrack release. It was a special arrangement that Max Steiner made and conducted with the RKO Studio Orchestra. But it's about as close and authentic as you can get! The pity is that the B side is not another Steiner recording.
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