Wuthering Heights/Alfred Newman

September 22, 2006


Was there ever a more exciting year in the history of cinema than 1939? How would you like to be director William Wyler and your competition for best director is Fleming, Ford, and Capra? Laurence Olivier (Heathcliff) had to compete against Gable, Stewart, Donat, and Rooney for best actor. Film stars such as Cary Grant, Gary Cooper, and John Wayne didn’t receive a nomination for Gunga Din, Beau Geste, and Stagecoach. And I have failed to even mention Dark Victory, Juarez, Drums Along the Mohawk, Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex, Four Feathers, and Intermezzo. A classic film many of us enjoy today is Destry Rides Again with Marlene Dietrich and there wasn’t a hint of a nomination. The competition for Newman that year was every bit as difficult with Alfred competing against the likes of Gone With the Wind, Of Mice and Men, Dark Victory, Gulliver’s Travels, and the eventual winner The Wizard of Oz. Two of his other fine scores to Gunga Din and Hunchback of Notre Dame were not even nominated! What other year could you have Victor Young, Max Steiner, Alfred Newman, and Aaron Copland shut out on Oscar night!

The Emily Bronte classic has been brought to the screen numerous times but most agree that this is the film on which all others are measured against and there is no question or doubt about who produced the greatest score. “Main Title and Foreword” not only introduces the tragically beautiful Cathy Theme (this is the melody on compilation albums) but also two short leitmotivs in the first few bars conveying the despair and anguish of the tragic love. One is played by the brass section while the other is performed by the strings at the same time. Under the umbrella of trembling violins Alfred also introduces the Wuthering Heights theme, which is one of mystery. “Joseph and Lockwood” gives us part of the Cathy theme again but this time with a soft but distinct voiceless female choir. Listening to these first two cues this reviewer always has wondered how would these cues have sounded with a theremin? On the surface it appears that it would be an ideal situation for the unique instrument. “C.U. Lockwood/As Fortunate as Others” gives us a completely new look at the Wuthering Heights theme, bright, upbeat, and happy quite the opposite of the beginning of the cue which with the oboe is dark, mysterious and eerie. Later in the cue the theme for Heathcliff is introduced with the clarinets followed by a nursey rhyme theme depicting the children playing. “He Walks to Bed” is another statement of the Cathy Theme but this time it is done in a tear jerker style unsurpassed by anyone and likely it was used as a template for how to arrange and orchestrate music in a style to get the tissue out. “Will You Forget Me/Death Scene/End Title” is a repeat of the Cathy Theme but this time it is done very very eloquently, arranged for a small string orchestra (not sure how many). Keep the hanky out!

The liner notes by Fred Steiner indicate that there was nearly 75 minutes of material with only 12 minutes being source material. This Leonard Bernstein recording contains approx. 40 minutes and 16 of the 35 cues Newman recorded. This, for the present, is the best possible available recording. There was a bootleg done sometime ago but can’t compare to the quality of this recording. Could a OST be possible at sometime in the future? Well, the acetate transfers and optical track still exist so it could be done. Then there would be a trade off between the quality of this recording or the original material of the OST. The Steiner notes are very very helpful because he includes some small music passages of melodies or examples which you can play on your piano if you are musically inclined. If not there is no harm in not being able to use it. For now this is a most welcome addition to score material that most people couldn’t obtain. Recommended

Golden Scores Rating is (***)

Composed by Alfred Newman

Conducted By Elmer Bernstein

Recording Engineer is Keith Grant

Track Listing:

1. Main Title And Foreword (02:52)

2. Joseph And Lockwood (03:58)

3. C.U. Lockwood / As Fortunate As Others (03:43)

4. Cathy Jumps Up (02:49)

5. Cathy’s Return (02:10)

6. Edgar And Cathy Entering Living Room (05:21)

7. The Garden (03:36)

8. Get Out Of My Way / Sir Roger De Coverley (03:54)

9. Why Isn’t There The Smell Of Heather (02:10)

10. He Walks To Bed (03:45)

11. Will You Forget Me / Death Scene / End Title (05:42)

Total Time is 40:49


2 Responses to “Wuthering Heights/Alfred Newman”

  1. […] https://sdtom.wordpress.com/2006/09/22/wuthering-heightsalfred-newman/Michel Legrand featured his Cathy or “Theme from Wuthering Heights” as the primary one, using it with delicacy for the flutes in the opening title, yearning strings, stately French horns, mixing it with other motifs such as “Rendezvous on the Moors,” “Castle Grounds,” and other instruments throughout the 46+ minute score. “Yorkshire Moors” uses the modern guitar to sound baroque like, an interesting orchestration that is mixed with the “Wuthering Heights” theme, flutes, harpsichord, a dissonant horn, and oboe. “Cathy’s Theme” is a lush romantic version of the “Theme from Wuthering Heights” offering many solos from the London Studio Orchestra members including harp, flute, violin, and oboe. “The Grange,” quite modern sounding like a traffic sequence is mixed with the gloomy harpsichord chords to make for an interesting mixture in this cue. “Hindley” is one of those tracks that is made up of several different smaller cues ranging from trumpet fanfares, lower register brass, “Theme from Wuthering Heights,” and church type music. The mixture works well as a nice underscore track. […]

  2. Digitalpiano Says:

    thats an awsome article. thanks.

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