The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes/Rozsa

April 14, 2007


Billy Wilder, 6 time Oscar winner, was winding down a long and illustrious Hollywood career when he tackled the project of The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes in 1970, a film he produced and directed. With the tie in of Holmes being known to play the violin and his prior working with Rozsa on The Lost Weekend, Five Graves To Cairo, and Double Indemnity, the use of the themes from the Violin Concerto seemed a natural and one that Rozsa was quite excited about doing. Wilder was quite familiar with the recorded version done by Jascha Heifetz and was known to listen to it while working on his next screenplay. While the goal of keeping both types of music concert and film on parallel lines was broken, the music really lended itself to the film and character of Sherlock Holmes so it was a good exception to make. Starring Robert Stephens, Colin Blakely, Genevieve Page, and Christopher Lee the film did not fare well at the box office as it was not promoted and advertised correctly. Perhaps the idea of the submarine disguised as the Lochness monster complete with Nazi influence was just too far fetched for the Holmes fancier.

One of the difficulties with the making of this score was the huge cuts that the studio forced Wilder to make. Since it was cut from 3 to 2 hours there was a lot of written score material that of course never made it to the film. An excellent example of this is the third track “The Curious Case Of The Upside-Down Room/Pistol Practice” which offers some very well written percussion material. James Fitzpatrick, producer and owner of Tadlow music, was able to trackdown and give us the material in correct order as it was originally filmed. To my knowledge the complete 3 hour version of the film is no longer available for viewing as a so called complete version but the Steve Vertlieb track by track notes explain what the so called stories were about. Even though we can’t watch what might have been we at least know the scene as we are listening to the tracks. Wilder had originally referred to the entire work as a “symphony in four movements” complete with an intermission. Rozsa comments that it “is a sorry travesty of the original and a great disappointed to all involved”. Another example of material being cut, “The Rambunctious Canary”, is an excellent suspense cue filled with some great bassoon and flute work. The cue has a flavor to something that he might have written for a film like Brute Force, full of suspense and intrigue. There are references to Loch Lomond in “To Glenahurich/The Parosol, a nice Scottish theme in “Castles of Scotland-Version 1”, cut from the film as being too Scottish?, and another version of “Castle of Scotland-Version 2” also cut as being too Vienna like, which I do agree with. That version sounds like it could have very easily been part of his film Time After Time. There are also themes/motifs for Von Tirpitz and the Trappist Monks, Queen Victoria, and other good underscore material.

However, the majority of the score is based on all three movements of the Concerto. “Gabrielle” offers the best version of the love theme, performed nicely by the concertmaster of the City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra Lucie Svehlova. The opening movement “Main Titles” nicely feature the opening movement of the Concerto and the third movement is given its 30 seconds of fame in “The Monster Strikes”. One of the recommendations of this reviewer is to listen to the Violin Concerto first and then spend some time with the score. You’ll recognize where so much of the material came from!

The liner notes are really superb from Steve Vertlieb. He goes through the entire plot of the screenplay and explains in an easy to understand way: sometimes I think you have to be a musicologist to comprehend what kind of music etc. is being played and used. Some of the artwork at least in my review copy came out more like a painting than photos? The recording is a little bright with a bit too much compression but that would never prevent me from getting this soundtrack. It is just an engineering decision designed to make it a little easier to listen to in cars, small portable units etc. On my larger stereo system I found myself having to turn the volume down a notch and cutting back a little on the treble. Not only do I recommend this recording but a copy of the Violin Concerto would be nice too! Good job by Tadlow.

Golden Scores Rating ***1/2

Produced by James Fitzpatrick

Tadlow # 004

Track listing

1. Main Titles / 221B Baker Street (04:13)

2. The Smoke Machine / Concerto / Cocaine (02:12)

3. The Curious Case Of The Upside-Down Room* / Pistol Practice* (05:32)

4. Moving Out* (02:54)

5. Watson’s Rage / Being Presumptuous (02:22)

6. Von Tirpitz Appears (01:50)

7. Gabrielle (05:17)

8. No.32 Ashdown St. / Canaries (04:15)

9. The Rambunctious Canary* (02:36)

10. The Diogenes Club (01:29)

11. To Glenahurich (Loch Lomond, arr. Rozsa) / The Parasol (02:25)

12. Inverness / The Cemetery / Valladon (05:46)

13. The Sighting (01:02)

14. Castles Of Scotland / Urquhart Castle (05:25)

15. After The Monster / The Monster Strikes (05:03)

16. The Last Act (02:07)

17. Ilse Von Hoffmanstal / A Certain Royal / Gabrielle’s Awakening (03:28)

18. Holmes’ Morse Code / Eternal Silence / Farewell (03:47)

19. Auf Wiedersehen / The End (05:16)


20. Castles Of Scotland – Version 1* (01:54)

21. Castles Of Scotland – Version 2* (Vienna In Scotland) (02:10)

22. Castles Of Scotland – Final Version With Bagpipe Drones (02:05)

23. Main Titles / 221B Baker Street – Original Version* (04:22)

* music composed for the film but not used in final version

Total Duration: 01:17:30


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