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Rózsa - The World Premiere Digital Recording of the Complete Score to BEN-HUR


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Author Topic: Rózsa - The World Premiere Digital Recording of the Complete Score to BEN-HUR  (Read 184 times)
patmos.beje
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« on: August 25, 2017, 11:45:26 am »


http://www.tadlowmusic.com/2017/08/ben-hur-miklos-rozsa/

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M. Yaskovsky
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« Reply #1 on: August 28, 2017, 02:05:22 pm »

Interesting. I'll consider buying this set........ already have the spectacular Rhino set from the 1990s with that fabulous lavish booklet.......... Hope some new tracks or arrangements are on the new set.
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patmos.beje
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« Reply #2 on: August 29, 2017, 09:22:14 pm »

Interesting. I'll consider buying this set........ already have the spectacular Rhino set from the 1990s with that fabulous lavish booklet.......... Hope some new tracks or arrangements are on the new set.

FSM (Film Score Monthly) produced, in 2012, the definitive original soundtrack of Ben-Hur.  It is a 5 CD set including various alternates (i.e. alternative recordings of music used in the film) and several LP releases [see: http://filmscoremonthly.com/notes/ben_hur.html - this includes a downloadable PDF of 25 pages of notes on the cues] This is the benchmark CD release of Ben-Hur and, in my view, trumps the excellent Rhino release. 

Tadlow has previously released reconstructions of The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes (which Billy Wilder requested be based on Rózsa's Violin Concerto) and El Cid.  The tapes of the original soundtracks to both these scores don't exist although, in 2012, the Quartet label managed to produce, after years of trying to locate them, second and third generations of the tapes of the virtually complete original soundtrack of The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes

Tadlow also produced for the Belgian Prometheus label reconstructions of Quo Vadis?, Sodom and Gomorrah and The Thief of Bagdad.  The tapes of the original soundtracks to Quo Vadis? and The Thief of Bagdad don't exist although music and effects tracks do exist for both (i.e. the original soundtracks with various effects heard in the film but without dialogue - apparently prepared for foreign language versions of films). 

These 5 releases of reconstructed scores are excellent and, accordingly, Tadlow, in my estimation, are best placed to attempt a reconstruction of Ben-Hur.  Most of the orchestral score no doubt still exists so the level of reconstruction will not be as great as for other scores.

Certain scenes in the original screenplay which Rózsa wrote music for (in short score) did not make it into the film as they were either cut or never actually filmed.  The music for these scenes was never recorded or fully orchestrated. The Tadlow release, according to comments I have read from an expert on Rózsa's score, includes virtually all of the unrecorded music.  The Tadlow release also includes music that did not make it into the film but has been previously recorded and released.

It was customary in Hollywood for composers' scores to be orchestrated by others (e.g. Korngold, Steiner and Waxman used orchestrators but not Herrmann).  Eugene Zador was Rózsa's orchestrator and will have orchestrated Ben-Hur based on Rózsa's detailed short score.  Rózsa once stated that had he given several accomplished orchestrators his detailed short scores they would each have produced the same orchestration (I assume Zador consulted with Rózsa to ensure his orchestrations matched Rózsa's intentions). For this new Tadlow CD Leigh Philips will have orchestrated the previously unrecorded music based on Rózsa's detailed short score and his knowledge of Rózsa's style.

This is the first ever digital recording of the complete score for Ben-Hur.  The booklet is written by a Rózsa expert.  It seems it will not include many (if any) stills from the film as I have read that the licence owner was, unusually, uncooperative in granting permission.

Juliet Rózsa, in Tadlow's flyer, refers to Ben-Hur as her father's magnum opus.  I think this is fair albeit that Rózsa composed many fabulous film scores several of which, surely, are among the treasures of 20th century music.



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« Reply #3 on: August 30, 2017, 01:25:41 am »

@patmos.beje

A very fine post but I should correct you about the sad state of Rozsa's scores.  From Jon Burlingame who is a film music historian, reporter, author, and teacher on film music history:

No, in fact, all of the Rozsa MGM scores were tossed. Some of his sketches may have survived (I recall they're at Eastman) but none of the full orchestrations. Anyone doing those now would have to rebuild them from piano conductor scores or transcriptions. (Bernard) Herrmann's slightly different because he orchestrated everything himself and much (but not all) of that has survived. Virtually none of the Korngold sketches exist; but the orchestrations done for the Warner Brothers pictures survive because they saved everything, or nearly everything, and they're at the WB archive that USC administers.

My commentary: I think in those days these magnum opus (opi?) were considered work and not art so once the task was completed, they no longer held value and were discarded since the gig was completed.  I recall while in music school going to a recording venue to record my own work.  Sitting in piles everywhere were the scores of Danny Elfman of a score I had no attachment to since the film didn't yet exist.  Those were all tossed.  Of course now we are in the digital age where they survive digitally and can be reproduced but in the 1950's, all was on paper and pencil and I could just imagine that under the duress of the day, the completed projects were no longer valued and discarded without a way to reproduce them.  In retrospect we treasure it all but that doesn't reflect the atmosphere of their origin.  Hence we have bits and peaces and must re-create it to be able to treasure it and preserve it for posterity.  This is most likely a very respectable and carefully executed reconstruction of the original which is the best we have available.  In fact the credits state this: New Score & Orchestration Reconstructed by Rózsa Expert Leigh Phillips
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patmos.beje
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« Reply #4 on: August 30, 2017, 06:20:36 pm »

@patmos.beje

A very fine post but I should correct you about the sad state of Rozsa's scores.  From Jon Burlingame who is a film music historian, reporter, author, and teacher on film music history:

No, in fact, all of the Rozsa MGM scores were tossed. Some of his sketches may have survived (I recall they're at Eastman) but none of the full orchestrations. Anyone doing those now would have to rebuild them from piano conductor scores or transcriptions. (Bernard) Herrmann's slightly different because he orchestrated everything himself and much (but not all) of that has survived. Virtually none of the Korngold sketches exist; but the orchestrations done for the Warner Brothers pictures survive because they saved everything, or nearly everything, and they're at the WB archive that USC administers.

My commentary: I think in those days these magnum opus (opi?) were considered work and not art so once the task was completed, they no longer held value and were discarded since the gig was completed.  I recall while in music school going to a recording venue to record my own work.  Sitting in piles everywhere were the scores of Danny Elfman of a score I had no attachment to since the film didn't yet exist.  Those were all tossed.  Of course now we are in the digital age where they survive digitally and can be reproduced but in the 1950's, all was on paper and pencil and I could just imagine that under the duress of the day, the completed projects were no longer valued and discarded without a way to reproduce them.  In retrospect we treasure it all but that doesn't reflect the atmosphere of their origin.  Hence we have bits and peaces and must re-create it to be able to treasure it and preserve it for posterity.  This is most likely a very respectable and carefully executed reconstruction of the original which is the best we have available.  In fact the credits state this: New Score & Orchestration Reconstructed by Rózsa Expert Leigh Phillips

Thanks for the above information and correction which is very interesting.  Indeed, the worth and excellence of some of the scores of many composers were unlikely to have been appreciated by the Hollywood studios.

Whilst many of Rózsa's scores will be lost, certain Hollywood Studios have somewhat redeemed their predecessors by co-operating with specialist film score lables (e.g. Film Score Monthly, Intrada, Kritzerland) in locating and licensing the release of the original soundtracks.  MGM have been fantastic with FSM.  Paramount with Kritzerland and especially Intrada.  Paramount, for example, have relatively recently located from their archives virtually complete original soundtracks of, for example, Double Indemnity, Five Graves to Cairo and The Strange Love of Martha Ivers, scores that, I understand, no one thought existed anymore.  Indeed, it seems that Paramount and MGM have made available all of what is available in their vaults. If only Universal would follow.  Apart from The Killers and Brute Force, available in a pretty poor sounding bootleg CD in Europe (illegal to sell in the USA) and, among specialists, in acetates, none of Rózsa's Universal scores have received an official release.

Although I am not a big fan of Max Steiner, there is apparently 'big' Max Steiner news about to be announced.  This, I am speculating, might be that Warner Brothers are going to open up their archives to soundtracks that have been thought to be lost.  Perhaps I am wrong.  Major Korngold Warner Brothers' soundtracks apparently no longer exist.  However, Korngold has fared very well in excellent reconstructions.

Happily, Rózsa also has done very well in terms of excellent reconstructions by Tadlow and Tadlow for Prometheus.  Intrada has also released excellent reconstructions of Spellbound and The Red House for which original soundtracks don't exist.

The new Tadlow Ben-Hur has 5 cues that have never previously been recorded.  I guess Leigh Phillips orchestrated them from Rózsa's short score.



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relm1
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« Reply #5 on: August 31, 2017, 12:59:38 am »


One thing about Tadlow is they do provide excellent liner notes and are proud of their reconstructions so I'm sure they'll elaborate.  Note that many films the composer writes much more music than was in the final so this could be an early version or alternate.  One thing I am confused about in your post is your use of the word "soundtracks".  Do you mean the sheet music which is mostly lost or the magnetic reels which erode over time unless properly cared for?  Basically if they find a magnetic reel from 1930's that's not very useful generally.  

celluloid from the 1950's for example that was not stored properly.  


What they usually do for preservation is find multiple sources each of which have different parts that are lost through time and can then digitize it and clean it frame by frame for what would be the best effort at the original.  Plus many sources show up in unexpected places.  A classmate of mine found a handwritten score signed "B. Herrmann" that the musicologist could not place so it was something new no one knew of.  She found it because when some people die they give their collections to the university collection and for special reasons we could gain access to these. 
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patmos.beje
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« Reply #6 on: September 01, 2017, 01:58:38 pm »


Thanks for the above information and apologies for any confusion and use of wrong terminology than that used in the film music world which, you clearly, have great knowledge of.

What I mean by original soundtracks is the original recorded music (without the addition of dialogue and effects) one hears in the film/movie.

In relation to Tadlow's Ben-Hur, due to be released early October, I mentioned above that there was music that didn't end up in the film, but which has been previously recorded and released, and music never previously recorded - both in the new Tadlow CD.  In relation to previously unrecorded music I mentioned - based on information on Tadlow's Ben-Hur webpage - that there were 5 unrecorded cues in the new CD.  I mentioned this on another forum and was corrected by an expert on Rózsa's score.  He claims that there are longer versions of music on the new CD than that which is heard in the film.  He claims there are almost 10 sections of music not previously heard.  Whether or not this is correct I don't know.  I am relying on what has been mentioned to date by Tadlow.   Frank K. DeWald's booklet notes in the new CD should clarify the position.

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patmos.beje
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« Reply #7 on: September 26, 2017, 11:54:21 pm »


Here are two links to musical excerpts from Tadlow's re-recording of Ben-Hur the release of which is imminent.

The first link is to sample tracks at Screen Archives Entertainment.  I am pretty certain that three of the samples contain music never previously heard (i.e. not included in the original musical soundtrack or on Rózsa conducted re-recordings which, themselves, included music not heard in the film and variants on music heard in the film):

http://www1.screenarchives.com/title_detail.cfm/ID/34309/BEN-HUR-2CD-RERECORDING/

The second link is to much longer extracts from a preview of the new CD on a podcast by Cinematic Sound Radio:

http://www.cinematicsound.net/the-archive-with-jason-drury-episode-two/

The host of the programme is full of enthusiasm but, in my opinion, he mispronounces the composer's name. I spent a day last week in a town outside Budapest with a long-standing friend and his family whose surname is Rózsa.
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patmos.beje
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« Reply #8 on: September 27, 2017, 12:05:58 am »



In addition to the links to musical excerpts from the new CD immediately above, below is a link to the discussion of the new Tadlow re-recording on the Rózsa forum:

https://www.tapatalk.com/groups/miklosrozsa/tadlow-ben-hur-intermission-and-beyond-t1833.html
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patmos.beje
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« Reply #9 on: September 30, 2017, 04:06:04 pm »


The Tadlow Ben-Hur arrived this morning and what a superb CD it is!  This is a wonderful representation of Rózsa’s score in digital sound including some music previously unrecorded.

It transpires, from Rózsa expert Frank K. DeWald’s notes, that the entire score had to be reconstructed by Leigh Phillips.  The booklet indicates:

“The reconstruction is based on a condensed score, in a studio copyist’s hand, registered by M-G-M with the Library of Congress for copyright purposes.  It features extensive annotations regarding instrumentation, making it very much like the kind of sketch score Rózsa typically provided to his orchestrator, Eugene Zádor…..”

The Booklet, though informative, is not as extensive or as illustrated as previous Tadlow or Tadlow produced Prometheus releases of Rózsa reconstructions.  As mentioned above, I have read permissions for including movie stills were not given.  Additionally, the FSM online linear notes which contain Frank K. DeWald’s analysis of the tracks in the FSM original music soundtrack release (available at: - http://www.filmscoremonthly.com/notes/ben_hur.html - ) and Ralph Erkelenz’s 170 plus page analysis of the score Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Score (available at: - http://www.miklosrozsa.org/ - click on Features on the home page and then Ben-Hur Score A Detailed Analysis for a pdf download) provide a wealth of detailed information on the score – including outtakes and the unrecorded music.  These documents are referred to in the Tadlow booklet for reference.
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