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THE PRINCE AND THE PAUPER – Erich Wolfgang Korngold

October 11, 2012 Leave a comment Go to comments


Original Review by Craig Lysy

The Prince and the Pauper was Mark Twain’s first effort to write a historical fiction novel. Director William Keighley had screenwriter Laird Doyle adapt the tale for film and hired swashbuckler star Errol Flynn (Miles Hendon) to head his cast, which included Claude Raines (Lord Hertford) and the twins Billy and Bobby Mauch. The story involves the birth of two boys who share both an uncommon resemblance and destiny: the pauper Tom and prince Edward. As a kid, Tom would often sneak into the palace garden and play with the prince. One day they change clothes with each other and are discovered by the guards, which eject the prince who they assumed, was a pauper. As the two boys struggle with their new lives, King Henry VIII dies leaving Tom under the malevolent control of Lord Hertford the duty of assuming the throne. With the assistance of mercenary Miles Hendon, Edward succeeds in interrupting the coronation and regaining his standing as rightful heir. The film did not achieve critical success but was never the less a commercial success.

This was Erich Wolfgang Korngold’s third Hollywood film score and, given the English court setting, he chose to impart a chamber music sensibility that he felt better supported the film’s intimacy. Korngold’s son George relates that the score “is reminiscent of music for a comedia dell’arte; it is sparkling, humorous, and heartwarming, capturing all the naiveté of childhood, the regal splendor of the court and the demeaning poverty of Tudor England”. Indeed Korngold throughout his career was known as an old school composer whose style may be described as elegant, romantic, richly melodic and complex in its contrapuntalism. This score features five primary themes and a motif. The Main Theme represents the boys and underpins the film. Korngold provides both an A and B Phrase, which he performs with great variability and a multiplicity of expressions; regal, playful, magical, whimsical and plaintive. The Adventure Theme is just a joy and is animated by playful strings, dancing woodwinds, glockenspiel accents. It flows with a wonderful youthful innocence and lightness of being. The Friendship Theme illustrates the bond that develops between Edward and Miles. The theme is tender, at times playful and performed beautifully by solo violin with woodwinds and glockenspiel accents. The Pauper Coronation Theme is filled with a robust and boisterous regality. We also have a light-hearted and flirtatious Love Theme carried by two violins and a tenor saxophone. Lastly, we have John’s Motif a repeating harsh staccato string phrase that reflects the brutality and evil of Tom’s father.

“Main Title” immediately sets the ambiance as it plays during the opening credits and subsequent panorama of London circa 1537. Refulgent heraldic horns, lush strings and twinkling glockenspiel introduce the Main Theme, which plays with a noble elegance. In “A Prince Is Born”, Korngold packs a lot into this short celebratory cue, which reveals London reveling with the birth of a male heir. We hear heraldic horns gioiosa, trilling woodwinds, clashing cymbals and sparkling glockenspiel as the music resounds with the great news. “Tavern and Palace” continues the regal and celebratory ambiance of this complex and multi-scenic cue, which renders the Main Theme in a number of guises. First we see poor men at a pub toasting the birth and then Henry VIII toasting with his court. We shift scenes again to Jane Seymour’s chamber where Henry visits his newborn son. The intimacy of the moment is carried by violin, viola and harp. A staccato like bridge takes us to Tom’s birth in poverty, a linking event carried by a solo oboe version of the Main Theme with the tender warmth exuded by his adoring mother. We conclude 10 years later in the London slums atop a vivacious Main Theme carried by woodwinds and strings. The multiplicity of ways Korngold presents his Main Theme is remarkable.

“Tom/Tom Continuation” is a score highlight as it features a beautiful extended rendering of the Main Theme. We open with a harsh and extended statement of John’s Motif as we see Tom’s play being interrupted by John who throws him into the mud. At 0:38 Tom seeks solace with Father Andrew who comforts him and gives him a book. Korngold graces us with just a wonderful and tender statement of the Main Theme, first on strings and later on woodwinds, which perfectly captures the moment. At 4:21 we hear John’s Motif now infused with various percussive and comic accents as Tom sneaks his book home only to be discovered. A plaintive Main Theme conveys his anguish as John strips the book from him.

“The Bench” is scored with a discordant Main Theme that plays as a dirge. We see Tom seeking refuge from the rain under a palace bench, as King Henry calls for Edward from his deathbed. In “The Prince” we open with a whimsical variant of the Main Theme with both it’s A and B phrases heard as Edward studies. At 1:46 the Main Theme becomes animated as playful woodwinds signal Edward joining his sister in play. The melodic line is broken grimly at 2:06 when Lord Hertford comes to escort Edward to his father. Yet its playful spirit returns as they walk the Great Hall. This cue hits all the right notes. Well done! “Biscuit and Seal” reveals Henry advising Edward of his imminent death and the awesome responsibility he will bear as King. An ethereal celesta introduces the Main Theme, which quickly darkens and slowly rises to a dramatic crescendo as Edward is presented the Great Seal Of England. In “The Prince Goes Back” a dark prelude ushers in a tender Main Theme as Henry bids Edward good night as doctors arrive. Harp and violin mysterioso play as Edward returns to his room and exits through a secret panel in search of adventure.

“The Captain” reveals Edward intervening to stop the Captain of the Guard who is beating Tom. Korngold uses percussion to animate the Captain before xylophone, woodwinds and violins enter to perform a Main Theme of shifting tempi. 
As Edward and Tom bond in “The Boys Go to Play”, Korngold introduces his Adventure Theme, which perfectly supports their play and child-like innocence. I just love this theme! 
The cue “Mirror”
is great fun and features a fine interplay of themes. We see the boys switching garments and looking into a mirror where they realize they look alike. We hear the magical variant of the Main Theme, which yields to the Adventure Theme as the amazed boys celebrate their transformations. “Prince Outside Palace” reveals Edward hiding the Great Seal in a suit of armor. As he seeks to retrieve his dog while dressed in Tom’s clothes he is captured by guards who beat and eject him from the palace. Korngold uses tremolo strings to sow tension as the Main Theme is heard slowly and in the lowest register. Woodwinds, horns and chattering xylophone play a tense Adventure Theme as Edward is captured and ejected.

“The Next Morning” reveals Tom’s discovery by Lord Hertford whom he fails to convince that he is but a pauper boy. We hear shimmering strings repeatedly reprising the first four notes of the Main Theme to affirm Tom’s new reality. In “Pauper Goes to King”, Tom is summoned when King Henry hears of his malady. Korngold chooses to play the Main Theme as a marcia funebre as Tom walks to an uncertain fate past members of court who believe he has gone mad. This is beautifully conceived! In “That Is My Son”, after Henry talks to Tom he summons the court to the throne room where he proclaims Tom his son. We hear a regal statement of the B Phrase of the Main Theme, which ends in a flourish with horns gioiosa. As Henry declares that Edward is to be crowned immediately in “The King Is Dead”, he dies. As Lord Hertford and Tom talk in Edward’s chambers Tom repeats his story and asks that the Captain of the Guard be called to bolster his claim. Dark tremolo strings perform the Main Theme with finality that gives way to a refulgent restatement as a new King assumes his destiny. “The Dog” features a discordant Main Theme with staccato rhythms as Edward’s dog snaps at Tom, thus revealing his deception to Lord Herford who threatens to kill him if he does not agree to be crowned.

In “The Church” Lord Hertford orders the Captain to find and murder Edward or die. We open with a solemn Main Theme, which acknowledges the King’s passing to London. As Edward hears of his father’s death, lacrimoso strings take up the theme as he grieves. All hell breaks loose in “Riot” when Edward declares he is the Prince and strikes a man that insulted his father. Luckily Miles Hendon comes to his defense in the ensuing crowd fight. Korngold uses his trademark vigorous action scoring, which is propelled furiously by strings animato, 
blaring horns and rapid-fire percussion. Wow! “Dining Scene” is a score highlight and just a delightful cue. We open with the Friendship Theme on solo violin that shifts to and fro with tenor saxophone and strings as they travel to Miles apartment. A comic bassoon joins in expressing the Main Theme, which interplays with the Friendship Theme as Miles humors Edward. A subtle gong ushers in regal strings brillante as Edward rewards Miles with Knighthood.

The next three cues “The Crown”, “His Majesty” and “Exit” are thematic as they all contain the Regal Motif of the Main Theme by heraldic woodwinds as Tom adjusts to his new life of being waited on hand and foot by countless servants. In “The Murder” John finds Edward, who he thinks is Tom and begins beating him. When Father Andrew intervenes, John strikes a mortal blow and must flee a murder charge. The harsh staccato John’s Motif drives the cue. “Street Scene” reveals Miles searching for Edward to a somber Main Theme with tremolo strings and woodwinds adding to the dark ambiance. “Nuts Knocker” provides a whimsical variant of the Main Theme as Tom uses the Great Seal to crack nuts! “Pauper’s Coronation” is a wonderful cue! Korngold introduces his Pauper’s Coronation Theme, a sprightly melodic line propelled by strings animato, which ends in a horn flourish as Edward is mockingly crowned “King Of Paupers” .

“Flirt” reveals Miles in an inn where he finally accepts Edward’s story as he hears the Captain instructing his troops. While listening a barmaid flirts with Miles and Korngold provides a light-hearted and flirtatious Love Theme carried by two violins and a tenor saxophone. In “Knife Fight” Miles saves Edward from John whom he slays in a fight, only to be arrested by the Captain who takes possession of Edward. We open with discordance before launching atop furious strings into exciting horn and percussive driven action writing which contests with John’s Motif. A gong and dark rendering of the Main Theme accompanies Edward’s capture. In “The Maid and the Ride” the maid cuts Miles bound and we are again treated to the exaggerated if not no comic Love Theme. Wood percussion drives the pursuit music as Miles rides to Edward’s rescue, with the cue ending with a menacing rendering of the Main Theme as the Captain prepares to kill Edward. We hear a despondent rendering of the Main Theme in “The Prayer” as Edward prays in preparation of his murder. “Duel” is an astounding action cue! It reveals Miles slaying the Captain in a dramatic fight and rescuing Edward. Korngold provides a fierce bravado and presto paced action cue that is just amazing! References to the Main Theme fill the cue as we view fierce swordsmanship, which culminates with an amazing horn flourish. We end with a tender restatement of the Friendship Theme as Miles and Edward are reunited.

The following three cues are all linked to one scene. In “Fanfares” regal trumpets sound as Tom enters the cathedral. Religioso chorus and organ plays in “Organ” as Tom kneels, and regal trumpets again resound as the coronation ceremony begins in “God Save the King”. As Miles and Edward rush into the cathedral in “Seal #1”, Edward yells stop! As Tom confesses, Edward is asked to identify the location of the Great Seal. After declaring it to be behind his bedroom mantle, a guard is dispatched. Korngold just lets loose with an amazing statement of animated piano, fluttering woodwinds, tremolo strings and wood stick percussion that is quite a ride! In “Seal #2”, when the guard returns empty handed, Tom jostles Edward’s memory and the guard is again dispatched, this time correctly to the suit of armor. We are again treated to a new variation of the rollicking music of “Seal #1”! When the guard returns with the seal in “Hurrah”, Korngold lets loose with an amazing horn laden line, which ends triumphantly in a glorious flourish!

In “Epilogue” Edward banishes Lord Norfert from England, repeals his unjust laws and offers Miles the post of Captain of his guards, which he graciously declines. Edward then uses the Great Seal to first make Tom his ward and then with boyish humor to once again crack nuts. We finish with tender woodwinds performing the Friendship Theme, which interplays with a heart warming rendering of the Main Theme before concluding with a wondrous orchestral flourish. Bravo! “End Title” opens with regal heraldic fanfare, which ushers in a lush and heart warming rendering of the Friendship Theme that concludes with a flourish. The “British End Title” was written for British audiences and features the Friendship Theme that instead concludes with a statement of the traditional “God Save the King”. Lastly, “Trailer” is music for the theatrical trailer used to promote the film. It presents as a classic suite, which opens with regal heraldic fanfare before launching into a marvelous parade of the score’s primary themes.

Please allow me to express my thanks to Anna Bonn, John Morgan and William Stromberg for yet another masterful rerecording of a treasured Golden Age score. Performed by the Moscow Symphony Orchestra, the sound quality is excellent as is conductor Stromberg’s mastery of Korngold’s music. This is a classic Golden Age score which highlights the extraordinary talent of Erich Wolfgang Korngold who weaves an extraordinarily rich and complex music tapestry. Displaying a multiplicity of themes, Korngold provides us with the naiveté of childhood, the heartwarming bond forged among friends, the heroism displayed by men of honor as well as the regal splendor of the Tudor court. I highly recommend this score for your collection and urge you to explore other re-recordings by the Bonn, Morgan and Stromberg team. You will not be disappointed.

Rating: ****½

Buy the Prince and the Pauper soundtrack from the Movie Music UK Store

Track Listing:

  • Main Title (1:43)
  • A Prince as Born (0:33)
  • Tavern and Palace (3:15)
  • Tom/Tom Continuation (6:36)
  • The Bench (0:44)
  • The Prince (3:24)
  • Biscuit and Seal (1:53)
  • The Prince Goes Back (1:42)
  • The Captain (0:47)
  • The Boys Go to Play (0:49)
  • Mirror (1:55)
  • Prince Outside Palace (1:48)
  • The Next Morning (1:14)
  • Pauper Goes to King (2:11)
  • That Is My Son (0:34)
  • The King is Dead (1:26)
  • The Dog (0:55)
  • The Church (1:13)
  • Riot (1:23)
  • Dining Scene (3:44)
  • The Crown (0:58)
  • His Majesty (0:57)
  • Exit (0:31)
  • The Murder (1:05)
  • Street Scene (1:27)
  • Nuts Knocker (0:25)
  • Pauper’s Coronation (0:42)
  • Flirt (2:10)
  • Robbery (0:33)
  • Knife Fight (2:13)
  • The Maid and the Ride (1:43)
  • The Prayer (0:52)
  • Duel (2:26)
  • Fanfares (0:09)
  • Organ (0:27)
  • God Save the King (0:06)
  • Seal #1 (1:04)
  • Seal #2 (0:58)
  • Hurrah! (0:56)
  • Epilogue (2:09)
  • End Title (1:11)
  • Trailer [BONUS] (2:43)
  • British End Title [BONUS] (1:16)

Running Time: 64 minutes 50 seconds

Tribute Film Classics TFC-1006 (1937/2009)

Music composed by Erich Wolfgang Korngold. Conducted by William Stromberg. Performed by The Moscow Symphony Orchestra. Album produced by William Stromberg, John Morgan and Anna Bonn.

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