Cinema Rhapsodies: The Musical Genius of Victor Young

August 31, 2006

 

Most of you who are regular readers of my reviews are aware that Victor Young was a major contributor to Hollywood during the 40’s and 50’s. If film music is new to you, your new to this site, or a member of the younger generation you likely are not aware of who he was or what he contributed. And the average movie goer on the street even one who enjoys older films is pretty much unaware of how many truly wonderful memories Victor wrote. Bill Stinson of Paramount once said “he may have been the best melody writer we ever had in Hollywood.” Can you put his themes up with Gershwin and Porter? You most certainly can. Victor composed or supervised 300+ films with 22 nominations for the Oscar. It wasn’t until after his death did Hollywood wake up and honor him with the coveted award for “Around The World In 80 Days” a film that even the academy couldn’t overlook. Even Jerry Goldsmith who seemed to be forever nominated year after year did win for his score to “The Omen” at around the midpoint of his career. How would you like to have been nominated (4) times in one year and not win! It not only happened to Victor in 1940 but also in 1941. People who complain about Thomas Newman, James Newton Howard and others not winning an Oscar should be aware of how overlooked Victor was! And yet most people have heard his themes many times over albeit an elevator, grocery store, easy listening radio station or tv commercial.

With the exception of the Around The World track which was recorded as an alternate version, this is not original soundtrack material but recordings for the most part that Victor made for Decca in compilation recordings. The 45 RPM stereo version that you hear on this recording was orchestrated and recorded at the same time of the soundtrack with the specific idea of releasing a single which is exactly what they did. Three of the tracks are Richard Hayman and his orchestra and are included for a couple of reasons. First of all the orchestrations and arrangements are very similiar to what Victor would have done and the original master material is no longer available, having not survived the ravages of time. In addition, (5) of the selections “The High and the Mighty”, “LaVie En Rose”, “East of Eden”, “Ruby”, and “Autumn Leaves” were not composed by Victor Young but arranged and performed by him. Victor like Newman, Mancini, Legrand, and others would record other composers as well as their own material for compilation albums. What this CD is all about for you is a basic introduction to Victor Young. From this you will be able to decide which of his soundtracks you want to expand to. While some of them are not available at this time you do have some choices. As stated earlier, Victor is neglected but not completely forgotten and soundtracks are available for “Around The World In 80 Days”, “Samson and Delilah, “The Quiet Man”, “For Whom The Bells Toll”, and “The Uninvited.” In fact look for this site to be involved with an official release of previously unavailable material from a major Victor Young film score. Look for this release to happen in early 2007.

Even though Victor was a master concert violinist he must have had a secret desire to play the harp because the parts he writes for this delicate instrument are every bit as good as Steiner and keep in mind that Max was married to a harpist who played in the WB Studio orchestra and he would always include her nicely in his orchestrations. The string section features fairly simple straightforward arrangements but the material is so lush and easy on the ears to listen to. Let me put it to you this way: this is no brass band. Nothing loud and brash sounding at all. In fact many of the tracks contain no percussion at all, a trademark Victor used for many of his recordings.

The remastering by Robles, Mathews, and Daly is fine. Keep in mind that some of this material is pre lp which means 78 acetates. A lot of is mono and no it doesn’t have great dynamic range. What it has is melodies and lots of them. Not small themes you hear today that you have to listen to 10 times before you can hear it. This is material you will find yourself humming and not realize it! This is material that if explored will open up an entire new world. This is material that is going to make you want more Victor Young. And perhaps you will ask yourself the same question that came up for me many many years ago. Who is this Victor Young and why are there so few recordings available? Recommended.

Golden Score Rating ***

Produced by Bill Buster

Mastered by Roger Robles

Hit Parade # 13501

Track Listing

1. Around The World (Theme From “Around The World In 80 Days”) (02:37)

Single version; first time in stereo.

2. India Country Side (03:55)

From “Around The World In 80 Days”; stereo.

3. The High And The Mighty (02:46)

4. Written On The Wind (02:39)

5. Alone At Last (03:09)

From “Something To Love For.”

6. Moonlight Serenade (Summer Love) (03:09)

From “The Star.”

7. La Vie En Rose (03:14)

8. Change Of Heart (02:25)

From “Forever Female.”

9. When I Fall In Love (03:15)

From “One Minute To Zero”; stereo. Performed by Richard Hayman & His Orchestra.

10. (Themes From) Sampson And Delilah (04:24)

11. The Call Of The Far-Away Hills (02:59)

From “Shane.”

12. My Mother (02:45)

From “The Quiet Man.”

13. My Foolish Heart (03:15)

14. Everything I Do (Wintertime Of Love) (02:52)

From “Thunderbirds.”

15. Love Letters (03:04)

Stereo. Performed by Richard Hayman & His Orchestra.

16. East Of Eden (03:14)

17. (Theme From) For Whom The Bell Tolls (03:05)

18. Golden Earrings (Prelude) (03:05)

19. Ruby (02:49)

From “Ruby Gentry.”

20. Autumn Leaves (02:43)

21. (The From) The Medic (Blue Star) (03:01)

22. Stella By Starlight (03:00)

From “The Uninvited”; stereo. Performed by Richard Hayman & His Orchestra.

Total Duration: 01:07:25

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