WUTHERING HEIGHTS – Alfred Newman
Original Review by Craig Lysy
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. Indeed Wuthering Heights offers what some critics believe to be the finest score for tragic love in film score art. Remarkably, there is currently no 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 the compilation CD “Wuthering Heights: A Tribute to Alfred Newman” 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. The additional suites on the album are also well worth your exploration.
This excellent suite was arranged by Fred Steiner and features a parade of Newman’s primary themes including; the Twins Theme, Cathy’s Theme, the Wuthering Heights Theme, The Moors Theme, The Children’s Theme and Heathcliff’s Theme. I am blessed to have a digital version of the score; as such I will provide some additional insight. “Main Title and Foreword” introduces us to the beautiful and timeless Cathy Theme, where Newman baths in auras of sadness, a portentous allusion to the tragedy that will unfold. The octave leap of the opening two notes is powerfully evocative, and its stirring eloquence affirms it as one of the finest themes ever written. The allusion of coming tragedy is nicely supported by additional leitmotifs, one born by horns, and the other by strings, which perfectly set the tone of the film, and captures its core narrative.
A multiplicity of themes is provided including the Wuthering Heights Theme, which is introduced by solo oboe mysterioso. Later in the score Newman modulates the theme, offering a bright major modal rendering that is just wondrous. Heathcliff’s Theme is masculine in construct and carried by clarinets. The Children’s Theme perfectly captures the playful innocence of youth as we observe children 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.
Buy the Wuthering Heights soundtrack from the Movie Music UK Store
- 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.