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WUTHERING HEIGHTS – Alfred Newman

November 23, 2015 Leave a comment Go to comments

wutheringheights100 GREATEST SCORES OF ALL TIME

Original Review by Craig Lysy

In 1938 studio executive Samuel Goldwyn was intent on finding a new project for his studio’s star Merle Oberon. By coincidence William Wyler was seeking financial backing for his next film, which would adapt Emily Bronte’s 1847 novel Wuthering Heights. He argued to Goldwyn that it would be a perfect tragic romantic tale to showcase Oberon’s talents. Goldwyn agreed and decided he would produce the film, with Wyler tasked with directing. He provided a generous budget and brought in screenwriters Charles MacArthur, Ben Hecht and John Huston to write the screenplay. They drew inspiration from the first sixteen chapters of the 34-chapter novel, and changed the setting from the 18th to the 19th Century. For their cast, Merle Oberon would take on the starring role of Catherine Earnshaw, joined by Laurence Olivier as Heathcliff. David Niven would play Edgar Linton and Geraldine Fitzgerald, Isabella Linton.

The story opens to a flashback which reveals Mr. Earnshaw bringing in Heathcliff, an orphaned boy living on the streets of Liverpool to live with his son Hindley and daughter Cathy. Cathy accepts her new brother, but Hindley is hostile and unaccepting. It comes to pass that Cathy and Heathcliff fall in love, yet when her father dies Hindley becomes master of the estate and demotes Heathcliff to stable boy. Cathy becomes acquainted with her wealthy neighbor Edgar, who is infatuated with her. While she loves Heathcliff, she knows he will never be able to support her in the style she has become accustomed. They fight, Heathcliff departs on bad terms and she marries Edgar. Years later Heathcliff comes back a wealthy and refined gentleman. He purchases the Wuthering Heights estate from Hindley who is near bankrupt and marries Edgar’s sister Isabella. One day Cathy falls ill and Heathcliff comes to her bed and declares his love for her, which elicits her to do the same as she dies poetically in his arms. Later, Heathcliff is found dead in the moors with people attesting that he was seen with a ghostly apparition of Cathy. The film ran thirteen days over its production schedule and $100,000 over budget due to Wyler’s perfectionism, sometimes doing 72 takes for a scene! Remarkably it did not resonate with the public and ended up a commercial failure. Despite this, the film achieved universal critical acclaim earning eight Academy Award nominations for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actress, Best Screenplay, Best Art Direction, and Best Film Score, winning one for Best Cinematography. Today the film is highly regarded and was selected for preservation by the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically or aesthetically significant.

There was never any doubt in Samuel Goldwyn’s mind as to who would score his film, Alfred Newman. They had collaborated on six previous films and he knew he would provide the tragic romantic music Wuthering Heights required. Newman understood that his music would have to speak to estate’s English setting as well as the moors to which Cathy and Heathcliff we fond of. He chose to support his soundscape with six primary themes, the foremost being Cathy’s Theme, perhaps the most romantic theme in his canon. It emotes with a classic ABA construct with its A Phrase breath-taking with the octave leap of its opening two notes. Lyrical strings romantico offer a yearning heart, impassioned and full of longing. The B Phrase is also borne by strings, but instead speaks of sadness, heartache and regret. The Wuthering Heights Theme supports the Gothic Earnshaw estate. It is not warm, or inviting, instead emoting austerely with a five-note declaration by horns truci. The Children’s Theme offers youthful energy by strings animato and playful woodwinds, which emote with a carefree joy de vie. The Moors Theme speaks of the desolation of the moors, which surround the estate. It emotes as a recurring eight-note string figure by violins inquietanti. The estate and the moors are parts of the whole, as such both themes often emote together. Heathcliff’s Theme has a five-note construct, which opens with a chord, and is followed by four ascending notes. carried by clarinets. There is a pervasive sadness in his theme, which speak to the many trevails and disappointments in his life. Lastly, there is no CD album for this score, as such for the review, I am reviewing the music in film scene context, and the time markers used are for the film.

“Main Title” opens the film austerely with horn declarations of the Wuthering Heights Theme, which establishes the tone of the film. The music supports the roll of the opening credits, which display against the cloud shrouded Wuthering Heights estate. At 0:30 we graced by a beautiful exposition of Cathy’s Theme. At 1:16 horns truci resound to reprise the Wuthering Heights Theme, and we flow into “Prologue” where on screen script displays: “On the barren Yorkshire moors in England, a hundred years ago, stood a house so bleak and desolate as the wastes around it. Only a stranger lost in a storm would have dared to knock at the door of Wuthering Heights”. At 1:28 the grim Wuthering Heights Theme resounds as we flow into “The Stranger” where we see a man fighting through lashing winds of a merciless snowstorm to reach its front doors. The eerie recurring eight-note string figures by violins del dolore of the Moors Theme carry his progress. As he enters the house, he is attacked by two hounds, who are called off by their imperious owner. The string figures soften and persist as Lockwood walks to greet his hosts by the fireplace. Heathcliff is gruff and only grudgingly offers him board for the night. The eerie string figures are sustained as his servant escorts him to a guest room. Lockwood beds down but is awakened by a window shutter flapping in the breeze. At 5:59 an ethereal Cathy’s Theme enters supported by wordless women’s choir as he goes to close it. He screams when he hears a woman crying out that it is Cathy, which causes Heathcliff to come to his room. As he tells him of Cathy, her theme resumes at 7:36. Heathcliff is enraged, and tosses Lockwood out of the room, goes to the window and fervently confesses his love for his beloved Cathy, supported by an aching rendering of her theme. At 8:19 Heathcliff races down stairs with a crazed look on his face supported by an intense flight motif. He bolts out the door into the blizzard leaving Lockwood and Ellen the house maid alone.

“The Maid’s Story” reveals Ellen telling the tale of Cathy and Heathcliff to an attentive Lockwood. Otherworldly violins underpin a plaintive rendering of the Wuthering Heights Theme as a flash back takes us back many years ago. She says that this home was a happy place back then and a happy rendering of the Wuthering Heights Theme at 10:30 supports this. At 10:42 the delightful energy and joy de vie of the Children’s Theme supports “Children Playing” as we see Cathy and Hindley frolicking around the house having great fun. “A New Arrival” reveals Mr. Earnshaw returning home with an orphaned boy, whom he has saved from the harsh streets of Liverpool. At 10:45 Newman introduces Heathcliff’s Theme on bubbly clarinets as Ellen takes him in for a scrubbing and clean set of cloths. In “Presents” dad has brought Cathy and Hindley presents and Newman celebrates the good times with a happy rendering of the Wuthering Heights Theme. He introduces Cathy and Hindley to their new housemate and they do not warmly receive him. When he tells Hindley that he will share his room and we must be generous with those less fortunate, Heathcliff hugs his new dad and departs at 13:18 carried by his happy theme.

“Race To the Barn” reveals Cathy and Heathcliff riding horses in the countryside. She challenges him to a race at 13:38 and a playful galloping rendering of the Children’s Theme carries their progress. Heathcliff wins, but the joy is short-lived as Hindley takes his horse by force as his is lame. In “The Fight”, a fight ensues with Hindley hurling a rock at Heathcliff and knocking him out. Cathy is distraught and a menacing rendering of Heathcliff’s theme arises at 15:25 as he swears to pay him back someday. At 15:45 in “Cathy and Heathcliff” she gets him out of his funk by giving him her horse. The playful Children’s Theme carries their departure together, and their ride in the countryside. Her exquisite theme enters on solo violin delicato at 16:21 as she compliments him on his beauty and asserts that he is a prince. At 16:51 the happy go lucky Children’s Theme returns as she tells her prince to ride to his fortress at Penniston Crag. “The Sword Fight” offers a score highlight. Heathcliff falls off his horse, yet he runs up the path at 17:09 carried by horns reale and begins an imaginary fight with the Black Knight, empowered by a swashbuckling rendering of the Children’s Theme. He is victorious and as Cathy joins to congratulate him on his victory at 17:25 as his theme sparkles in victory. He crowns the moment making her his queen at 17:46 and as she kneels in gratitude her tender theme supports the magical moment.

In “Father Has Died” dire strings enter at 18:03 and carry the physician to the dinner table where he advises that their father has passed. “I’m Master Here Now” reveals Hindley’s cruelty as he denies Heathcliff saying goodbye to father and orders him to his new job as stable boy. A molto tragico rendering of the Wuthering Heights Theme by cello affanato supports the scene. Many years later Hindley rules as an insufferable tyrant to fond of drink. After he departs from dinner in “Hindley Departs” Cathy flees the house for the sanctuary of Penniston Crag at 20:52 carried by graceful flight music. Heathcliff sees her departure from the stable but cannot follow as he is saddling Hindley’s horse. He remains silent to Hindley’s arrogant taunts and demand that he cleans the stable by morn. After Hindley departs, he runs after Cathy at 22:05 carried by a resplendent rendering of his theme. At 22:25 in “Rendezvous” a romantic rendering of Cathy’s Theme carries his arrival at their ‘castle’ where they embrace and kiss. His theme joins as she worries that Hindley might discover them. She asks him to leave, become rich and rescue her, but he will not leave without her. Yet she will not go with him and live poorly in a hut. She hears party music from Linton estate and asks him to join her in taking a look. They climb the wall and watch the people dancing through a window. Newman interpolates spirited classical dance music to support the scene. But they alert the hounds who attack and injure both he and Cathy. Cathy asks him run away and bring her back the world. Judge Linton orders him out disparagingly, which elicits a curse from Heathcliff to bring this house down on all of you.

In “Cathy Returns” she returns weeks later to Wuthering Heights at 28:34 carried by happy travel music. Heathcliff greets her inside at 29:56 carried by her theme, but it yields to a plaintive rendering of his theme as she is not happy to see him, and has become accustomed to living the good life at the Lintons. She then humiliates him by ordering him to clean up so as to not embarrass her guest, which leads to his wounded departure. “Cathy’s Rage” reveals Edgar Linton joining her in the parlor for tea. A plaintive clarinet at 31:00 supports yet after he disparages Heathcliff at 31:25 her rage builds on strings irato. She attacks Edgar’s patrician sensibilities and orders him out at 32:02 supported by an impassioned rendering of her theme. After his departure Ellen enters with the tea service, and Cathy breaks down and weeps, her theme now grieving. In “Thoughts of Heathcliff” Cathy runs to her room and at 32:37 we hear a fleeting quote of Heathcliff’s Theme on harp as he is on her mind. She sees her image with her ornate dress in her mirror, again supported by his theme and proceeds to tear off the gown supported by a lush rendering of her theme, her thoughts clearly attuned to her love. At 33:16 the Children’s Theme carries her run to Penistone Crag, the imaginary castle of their childhood where she fell in love with Heathcliff.

In “Forgive Me” we are graced by a beautiful score highlight that achieves a sublime cinematic confluence. At 33:23 Heathcliff sees her approach and an aggrieved rendering of his theme sounds as he still stung by her condescension. She runs not into his arms, but instead stands at the crest looking over the countryside, full of guilt, and unable to make eye contact. A warm rendering of her theme supports the moment, which subsides with her indecision until 33:57 when it blossoms as she races into his arms, kisses him, and asks him to forgive her. As she asks him to make the world stop here, and let the moors never change, and their love never change her theme blossoms as we see our lovers embrace against cloud swept skies – a perfect cinematic moment. She pledges her love and asks him to fill her arms with heather. They race down the hill carried by her theme and he pulls up heather flowers, which he bestows as a token of his undying love. We conclude with a rapturous kiss, the moment crowned with a lush, romantic statement of her theme. Narration informs us that Cathy again became conflicted with her love of Heathcliff, and the refinery, gifts and sensibilities of patrician life provided by Edgar, who continues to profess his love.

At 36:42 woodwinds and strings offer a danza comica as Ellen pours hot water into Cathy’s bath as she complains like a child. Later as she dresses in a silk gown and puts on perfume the dance evolves into a carefree and fanciful danza giocosa. She is quite taken with her refined appearance, more so when Ellen compliments her. In “The Fight” Heathcliff enters her room, orders Ellen out and displays jealousy that she continues to see Edgar. At 38:32 her theme propels a fight where he accuses her of vanity in falling for Edgar’s gifts. Her theme becomes aggrieved as he beseeches her, stating that you are “My Cathy”. She ridicules his lack of ambition to make something of himself. But she is not done, and she lashes out that a servant, a stable boy with dirty hands, who was a beggar and remains one with dirty hands does not command her. A devastated rendering of his theme at 39:37 supports her searing words. He is crushed, relating that all he has become to her is a pair of dirty hands. He slaps her face twice, instantly regrets it, and flees her bedroom. He meets Ellen and Edgar who has just arrived, hesitates, and then departs into the pouring rain on a diminuendo of pain.

At 40:43 in “Heathcliff’s Despair” a despondent Heathcliff climbs to his stable loft bed carried by Cathy’s Theme, so full of heartache. He looks at his dirty hands and punches out two windows in anguish, and we conclude on a diminuendo of pain. At 41:51 Edgar departs and Heathcliff returns to the house carried by a folksy rendering of Cathy’s Theme. Ellen greets him and is horrified as his hands are bloodied from the glass. At 42:33 in “The Confession” Heathcliff bears his soul to Ellen of his desire to be forgiven, of loving Cathy more than his own soul, and of needing her more than his own life. An anguished rendering of his theme supports his heartache as she mends his hands. In “What About Heathcliff” the music lightens at 42:52 as Cathy is heard calling for Ellen. Heathcliff hides around the corner as Cathy insists Ellen hear good news. She states that Edgar has proposed and that she will answer him tomorrow. When Ellen asks why she loves him, we learn that she will be rich, and one of the finest ladies in the county. Newman supports the conversation with a romance for strings, but it is not for Edgar, but rather for the wealth and status he would bring. At 43:57 Ellen asks “What about Heathcliff”? and his plaintive theme enters as we see she still has feelings for him, but her words sear his soul when she states marrying him would degrade her and that she wished he had not come back. He departs unable to bear her words.

At 44:22 in “I Am Heathcliff” she states she knows she has no business marrying Edgar, and asks Ellen what can she do? Ellen says you’re thinking of Heathcliff. To which she replies of course complaining that he has sunk so low and become brutal, and yet she confides that “He is more myself, than I am”. “Whatever are souls are made of, his and mine are the same.” “My only thought of living is Heathcliff”. She concludes by saying to “Ellen, I am Heathcliff”. A plaintive rendering of her theme supports the conversation. The music sours at 46:00 as we hear voices calling out to Heathcliff who has fled on a horse. Ellen confides that he was listening and fled when she said marrying him would degrade her.” A solo violin affanato weeps as woodwinds of despair emote his theme. At 46:34 the orchestra cries out and supports her run outside into the rain after him, yet he has gone and all that remains are painful echoes of his theme. “Return to the Castle” offers a powerful score highlight. Cathy is anguished and declares he will never come back. Her aching theme supports her heartache. At 47:05 a molto tragico declaration of the Wuthering Heights Theme supports her run to their sanctuary castle at Penistone Crag. Violins affanato join the theme’s dire horn declarations and carry her ever upwards against fierce winds and rain until she reaches their castle, only to find it empty. We close painfully on repeated statements of Heathcliff’s Theme as she cries out his name and falls to the ground in agony.

The next day beleaguered tremolo strings enter at 49:03 in “Cathy is Found” as Edgar and Dr, Kenneth bring her to the Linton estate. She is wrapped in blankets, placed by the fire and given brandy. The string tremolo ushers in a plaintive rendering of her theme as she utters – Heathcliff. In “Cathy Recuperating” strings gentile enters at 49:58 as the doctor prescribes medicines and reassures Cathy that she will recover. Edgar returns at 50:45 carried by a romance for strings and we see her brighten at his obvious devotion. Isabella leaves at 51:28 to prepare her medicine carried by bubbling woodwinds animato. The romance for strings resumes as she thanks him for his generosity and he asks to take care of her forever and to love her always. At 52:42 he kisses her supported by soft, fleeting statements of the Wuthering Heights Theme – echoes of the past. At 52:57 we flow into “I’ll Be Your Wife” where she states that no one but you will ever kiss me, and that she will be his wife. The romance for strings supports the moment, but without fervor or passion as he kisses. A comic interlude at 53:10 supports Isabella doing a roundabout so as to not interrupt their kiss.

At 53:17 in “The Wedding” Edgar and Cathy exit the wedding chapel supported by an interpolation of The Wedding March (1843) from “A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Op.61” by Felix Mendelssohn, replete with bells celebrativo. Yet at 53:47 she sees a stableman, which triggers memories of Heathcliff. The music recedes as she confides of feeling of doom from a cold wind across her heart, which disappeared with Edgar’s touch. As they depart with her confession of love, Ellen’s mind speaks of also feeling a cold wind across her heart supported by sad fleeting echoes of the Wuthering Heights Theme. At 54:37 we flow into “Lady of the Manor” where Ellen narrates of Cathy’s feelings of happiness over the intervening years. Cathy is seen sowing as Isabella plays the piano. The gentility is shattered however in “Heathcliff Returns” when Ellen informs Cathy that Heathcliff has returned and wishes to see her. She refuses, but Edgar instead reassures her of his love and offers him his hospitality. The meeting is unscored and awkward with Heathcliff informing them that he had relieved Hindley of his gambling debts, purchased Wuthering Heights and would henceforth be their neighbors. He congratulates them on their wedding and departs. At 102:29 Heathcliff’s Theme is rendered by solo cello doloroso with contrapuntal flute. It emotes from Cathy’s perspective, and supports the aftermath as we see her stoic, yet distraught.

At 102:53 in “Heathcliff’s Revenge” we see a very unsettled Hindley place a gun in his desk drawer, bolt the shutters closed and demand from his butler Joseph that the front door be locked. The eerie strings of the Moors Theme join with an ominous rendering of the Wuthering Heights Theme to portend the reckoning promised years ago by Heathcliff. Heathcliff arrives and informs Hindley that he has paid off his debts and owns the estate. Newman does not score the confrontation. Heathcliff allows Hindley to remain as a lingering humiliation, which enrages Hindley who pulls out his pistol and threatens to shoot. Heathcliff calls his bluff demanding that he shoot, yet Hindley cannot and begins to weep. Heathcliff knocks the gun out of his hand, calls him a coward and orders Joseph to take him to his new quarters in the guest room.

At 106:46 in “Isabella Calls” offers a beautiful score highlight where Newman’s romantic writing shines. Heathcliff is informed that a lady is calling, and he rushes out believing it to be Cathy. To his surprise it is Isabella who feigns a lame horse for her visit. She informs him of her displeasure of Edgar and Cathy’s treatment and of her desire to be his friend. He is moved and offers a ride on the moors, disclosing that her horse is fine, which takes her aback. He moves her when he speaks of her loneliness living alone in a happy house, and that with him, she will never be lonely again. Newman supports the fateful meeting with a gorgeous romance for strings with interplay from Heathcliff’s Theme on woodwinds.

At 108:59 in “The Party”, we see people dancing at the Linton estate, which Newman supports diegetically with a small ensemble orchestra, providing classic festive dance music of the time. Heathcliff arrives and is greeted happily by Isabella as a concerned Edgar looks on. They watch a performance at 1:11:58 of the energetic, note rich Piano Sonata in A major, K.331: Rondo alla Turca (1778) by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, played diegetically by Alice Ehlers on harpsichord. Midway Cathy notices Heathcliff and becomes transfixed on him and visibly unsettled. At 1:13:48 we flow into a valzer gentile where Isabella dances with a gentleman and Heathcliff asks Cathy to join him on the terrace where he confesses his undying love. She resists both their feelings, asks him to never visit again, and departs. The valzer gentile supported the dialogue. We close with another energetic dance as Isabella joins him and asks that he return with her to the party.

Later that night we segue at 1:17:35 into “Isabella’s Happiness” as we see her dancing in her room and then gazing at her reflection in her make-up mirror. A romance for strings supports her happiness until 1:17:54 when Cathy enters, the music dissipating due to her admonitions regarding Isabella’s disgraceful behavior with Heathcliff. When Cathy states that he is just using her to be near me again, Isabella states that he loves her, has kissed her and asked her to marry him. When Cathy forbids it, Isabella launches a potent rejoinder, accusing her of still loving him, which elicits a slap. Undeterred, Isabella continues and says to Cathy that she is mad with jealousy of her marrying him, which elicits another slap. She continues accusing her of wanting him to pine for you, dream of you, and die for you, while you live in luxury. She has one more salvo saying that she does not want him to be happy, rather you want him to suffer, you want to destroy him. Cathy starts to leave but Isabella shouts I want to make him happy, and I will! After which, Edgar enters and he and Cathy depart, the women not disclosing their discussion. Newman did not score this scene, letting the searing dialogue carry the exchange.

At 1:20:09 in “Cathy Visits Wuthering Heights” a sad rendering of the Wuthering Heights Theme supports her visit to see Heathcliff at his estate. At 1:20:47 Heathcliff greets her supported by her wistful theme. She asked if he intends to marry Isabella, and when he hesitates, she begs him not to. He admonishes her for what she has done, her cruelty and asks her to be glad for his happiness as Isabella’s husband as he was for her marriage. The scene was supported by Cathy’s Theme, which while lyrical, was devoid of any romance, and ends full of sadness as she departs. At 122:18 in “The Elopement” offers a powerful score highlight. Cathy and Edgar arrive home determined to stop Isabella’s plan, but they are too late as a note advises them of her elopement. Newman supports the scene with a grieving rendering of Cathy’s Theme, as what is unfolding is seen and felt from her perspective. At 1:23:14 she becomes crazed, commanding him to stop this marriage, to kill Heathcliff if he must, and we see in his eyes a hurtful epiphany, that she still loves Heathcliff fervently. She realizes it also and collapses supported by a molto tragico statement of her theme.

At 123:57 in “Wuthering Heights” Ellen’s narration informs us of Heathcliff’s and Isabella’s marriage against a backdrop of the Wuthering Heights estate, which is supported by a plaintive rendering of its theme. We see she is sad as Heathcliff’s hatred of Hindley and loss of Cathy has poisoned the house. The visiting Dr. Kenneth advises that Cathy is near death and that Isabella should go back home. He departs, Heathcliff returns, and Isabella asks him to evict Hindley so she could bring love back into the house. She hugs him and asks why he will not let her come near him and the entry of a plaintive Cathy’s Theme at 1:27:30 informs us of why. She weeps, bares her soul to him, begs him to love her, yet he is unmoved, as barren and cold as the moors. At 1:28:31 in “Ellen Brings Sad News” a dirge supports her arrival and message from Edgar to return home at once. Heathcliff rushes to her, grabs her and states Cathy is ill, supported at 1:29:07 by a loving statement of her theme. When he realizes she is dying, he rushes to the door at 1:19:21 carried by an impassioned statement of his theme, only to be stopped by Isabella. She begs him to let her die in Edgar’s, her husband’s arms, but he pushes her aside and departs. A diminuendo of devastation fills the room as she rushes out to see him riding furiously to her, carried by Cathy’s Theme as galloping flight music.

At 1:30:14 in “Cathy and Edgar” he sits dutifully by her, and yet Heathcliff’s Theme informs us of her thoughts. A tender rendering of her theme joins as she asks him to gather some heather for her at Penniston Crag. A romance for violins and fleeting quotes of Heathcliff’s theme interplay as she tells him he is very dear to her. At 1:32:00 urgent strings carry Edgar’s swift departure. Heathcliff enters the estate and aching string figures carry him to her bedroom. At 1:32:27 in “Reunion” we are graced by a scorer highlight. A tender and loving rendering of Cathy’s Theme supports his entry. At 1:33:00 her eyes open, she smiles, and her theme warms with happiness as she calls to him. A rapturous ascent at 1:34:12 supports his loving embrace and kiss, yet they both realize it is the end and her theme dissociate into plaintive string figures until his heart’s floodgates open, damning her for breaking his heart, and her heart for a good life. She asks him to forgive her as her theme returns full of anguish. He kisses her and forgives her as Ellen enters and warns of Edgar’s arrival. She then states that he was always hers, and asks him to carry her to the window so that they may look at the moors one last time together.

He does so at 1:38:05 we flow into “I’ll Wait for You” a cue where the score reaches its emotional apogee. A thankful, and achingly beautiful statement of her theme supports their embrace as they gaze at the moors under cloud swept skies and remember their beloved castle where their love was born. At 1:38:48 she dies in his arms and a stinger chord transmutes her theme, which becomes transcendent. Strings affanato offer an aching reprise of her theme as he lays her in bed as Edgar arrives. Heathcliff prays for forgiveness stating that it was he who killed her, and he asks that as ghost dwell upon the earth, that she take whatever form to be with him always, to haunt him and drive him mad until such time that he can rejoin her. We close with a return to the present carried by a plaintive rendering of the Wuthering Height’s Theme in “Ellen Finishes the Tale” where she concludes her story with Mr. Lockwood. She relates of how “Heathcliff tried to tear away the veil between life and death, crying out to Cathy’s soul to haunt and torment him until he died.” The doctor enters, says that he saw Heathcliff with a woman (Cathy) and followed them up to Penistone Crag. Yet he found only his footsteps in the snow and him dead on the buff. We close at 1:42:46 with a final refulgent statement of Cathy’s Theme with ethereal choir as Ellen says they are not dead, but again together, as we see their apparitions walking hand in hand to their beloved castle.

I cannot offer my usual thank you to the album producers as remarkably, there is currently no bona fide CD recording of the complete score that is commercially available. This is for me completely baffling, and a totally unacceptable state of affairs, which needs to be rectified. What I suggest in the interim is a compilation CD by Richard Kaufman with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra and New Zealand Youth Chorus, which provides a 12:46 minute suite. Newman’s primary themes are presented and it does a fine job revealing the beauty of his music. Watching the film will offer you a true testament to Newman’s genius. I believe Alfred Newman’s score to this Emily Bronte classic out performs all that have followed in this genre and offers irrefutable testimony to his supreme gift, and mastery of his craft. It provides a grand and operatic sweep full of passion, pathos and tragedy. A multiplicity of fine themes is provided including the supremely romantic, and timeless Cathy’s Theme, which has earned its place in the hallowed halls of the Pantheon of great film score themes. Also, the integral to the film’s narrative were Wuthering Heights and Moors Themes, which speak to the estate and its surrounding lands. Its articulation changes throughout the course of the film from austere, to happy, to sad, with its most powerful statement at the scene “Return to the Castle at 47:05. The Children’s Theme perfectly captures the playful innocence of youth as we observe Cathy and Heathcliff playing. It is however in the dramatic death scene that Newman’s score achieves its emotional apogee. Wordless female voices arise with such grace and stirring beauty, that one quivers as we are carried upwards to a sublime culmination. When Cathy at last succumbs and dies in Heathcliff’s arms, a stinger chord transmutes her theme, which becomes transcendent. This marriage of score and film imagery for this poignant scene is simply glorious. Folks, this score offers what I believe the finest example of tragic love ever written. In scene after scene Newman emotionally empowers the film’s performances and speaks to us of Cathy, Heathcliff’s and Isabella’s simmering cauldron of feelings. I consider it a masterpiece, the finest of Newman’s early career scores, and one of the finest of the Golden Age. I call upon the major film score labels, and reconstruction teams like John Morgan, William Stromberg and Anna Bonn to take on what must be done, and rerecord this Alfred Newman masterpiece for all to enjoy. Until that day!

Buy the Wuthering Heights soundtrack from the Movie Music UK Store

Track Listing:

  • Wuthering Heights Suite (12:46)
  • Prince of Foxes Suite (13:19)
  • David and Bathsheba Love Theme (3:44)
  • Dragonwyck Suite (8:43)
  • The Prisoner of Zenda Suite (7:01)
  • Brigham Young March (5:18)

Running Time: 50 minutes 51 seconds

Koch International Classics 3-7376-2 (1939/1997)

Music composed by Alfred Newman. Conducted by Richard Kaufman. Performed by The New Zealand Symphony Orchestra and New Zealand Youth Chorus. Original orchestrations by Robert Russell Bennett and Edward B. Powell. Score produced by Alfred Newman. Album produced by Michael Fine.

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