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November 30, 2015 Leave a comment Go to comments

gonewiththewind100 GREATEST SCORES OF ALL TIME

Original Review by Craig Lysy

Margaret Mitchell’s 1936 novel Gone With The Wind caught legendary producer David O. Selznick’s eye and he saw destiny in the making. At his bidding MGM purchased the film rights for an unprecedented $50,000. This was a passion project for Selznick and no expense would defer him from realizing his vision. Screenwriter Sidney Howard was hired to do the impossible – adapt the massive 1,037-page story to the big screen. Victor Fleming was tasked with directing and a cast that has become legend were hired including Clark Gable as Rhett Butler, Vivien Leigh as Scarlet O’Hara, Leslie Howard as Ashley Wilkes, Olivia de Havilland as Melanie Hamilton, Thomas Mitchell as Gerald O’Hara, Barbara O’Neil as Ellen O’Hara and Hattie McDaniel as Mammy. No movie to this date provided such a grand and epic sweep, and in the end six hours of film were shot, which featured thousands of actors. Set in the Antebellum era of the American South circa 1860, it tells a story of Scarlet O’Hara, daughter of Gerald O’Hara a wealthy cotton plantation owner. We bear witness to her many loves, her willfulness, indomitable spirit, and lastly her capacity to persevere and achieve her goals, no matter the cost. Her story unfolds at the O’Hara family plantation estate Tara on the eve of the American Civil War. The war unleashes a brutal clash of cultures, which results in desolation and ruin for the South, the ending of a way of life, and the pillaging of Tara, all swept away in its unforgiving and destructive torrents. Selznick’s vision was achieved as the film was an astounding commercial success earning $32 million or thirteen times its production cost of $3.85 million. It also received universal praise from critics and was rewarded with an unprecedented thirteen Academy Award nominations, earning eight wins including; Best Picture, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actress, Best Cinematography, Best Film Editing, and Best Art Direction. The film has a significant legacy, ranked fourth by the American Film Institutes 100 Greatest Movies list.

Selznick insisted that the musical score was the major determinant of the film’s success. Max Steiner had already firmly established himself as first among his peers and was tasked by Selznick to bring his passion project to fruition. He insisted on a score that provided the epic sweep necessary to support the film’s grand narrative. He was also insistent that Steiner use to the fullest extent contemporaneous music of the civil war era to impart the cultural authenticity of the Antebellum age. Selznick was a well-known micro-manager and he repeatedly sent Steiner notes on what he desired musically, and what edits he desired for music already written. This slowed Steiner down considerably and caused significant frustration. So worried was Selznick that Steiner would not meet his expectations and finish on time that Franz Waxman was hired to write a replacement score. Steiner solicited the aid of four orchestrators to aid in the rewrites including Hugo Friedhofer, Maurice de Packh, Bernard Kaun, and Heinz Roemheld and rose to the occasion, providing a masterwork, which many believe to be his Magnum Opus.

Steiner provided thirteen primary leitmotifs, which was consistent with the methods of the European romantic traditions that he championed. Scarlett is provided two identities; Steiner interpolates the playful and carefree song Katie Belle (1863) by Stephen Foster as her first theme. Its melody supports the young Scarlett prior to her ascent to womanhood when she impulsively marries Charles Hamilton. Afterwards as an adult, Scarlet’s Theme solely supports her identity. Her adult theme is mercurial, tempestuous and more passionate as she is a scheming woman totally without scruples or shame, fully capable of doing whatever is necessary to achieve her goal. Rhett’s Theme offers a confident, masculine identity full of pleasantry and southern charm, which perfectly captures his persona. Notable is how Steiner alters its articulation as his marriage deteriorates. We hear sadness and vulnerability in the notes, less confidence, as we see that Scarlett has wounded his psyche. Ashley’s Theme offers a descending line by strings gentile, which perfectly captures his chivalrous nature. Yet we discern sadness in the notes, which speak to the conflicts of his heart and incapacity to reconcile with the loss of his way of life. Steiner reinforces the later by linking to him the song “Deep River”, an anonymous African-American hymn, whose lyrics speak of longing and the yearning to find peace. Melanie’s Theme perfectly captures her purity, tenderness, gentleness and essential goodness. Steiner provides a classic ABA construct with its forthright A Phrase born by strings gentile with celeste adornment, while its more lyrical B Phrase sustains the melodic flow using the same joining of strings gentile and celeste.

Mammy’s Theme offers in its repeating phrases a cheerful, and lilting identity for the stern but motherly house servant. Upbeat, determined and ever buoyant, this theme perfectly captures Mammy’s persona. Gerald’s Theme has a classic ABA construct that offers ethnic Irish auras, which perfectly capture his courage, determination and gumption. The string born A Phrase is forthright and declarative in its assertions, while the descending B Phrase is more tender and reflective in its sensibilities. Bonnie’s Theme is carried by strings tenero and exudes gentleness. We do not find the usual youthful playfulness associated with a child’s theme, instead discerning a latent sadness in the notes, a subtle allusion by Steiner to the strife of her family circumstances and tragic end. Belle’s Theme serves as the identity of a prostitute with flaming red hair, who dresses with tasteless extravagance, yet bears a heart of gold. Steiner speaks to her ‘inner beauty’ with warm strings tenero, attended by celeste and vibraphone adornment. The Twins Theme serves as the identity of the Tarleton twins Brent and Stuart, suitors of Scarlett. Strings gentile carry their elegant melody with a refined and chivalrous decorum.

Steiner interpolated a multiplicity of anthems and songs to represent both the Union and Confederacy. For the Confederacy Steiner interpolated several popular anthems, which embodied Southern antebellum culture including; Dixie (1859) by Daniel Decatur Emmett. The song emotes with patriotic fervor and served as the de facto national anthem of the Confederacy. Instructive is how Steiner modulates its articulation from major to minor modal as the South begins to lose the war. When The Cruel War Is Over (1863) by Charles Taylor and Henry Tucker also embodies patriotism, yet it also reflects the ravages of war, the longing for its end, and the return home of the South’s husbands and sons. Bonnie Blue Flag (1861) by Harry McCarthy is a patriotic marching song, which speaks of Southern pride and independence. Maryland, My Maryland (1861) by James Ryder Randall offers harshly critical lyrics, which condemn Abraham Lincoln and Yankee aggression. Most interesting is that it emotes with the same melody “Lauriger Horatius” as the German Christmas song “O Tannenbaum”. The iconic When Johnny Comes Marching Home (1863) by Patrick Gilmore is aspirational and full of longing for the pride of the Confederacy to return home victorious. Steiner would also alter the modality of the piece from major to minor as the Confederacy reels from the defeat at Gettysburg. The song Cavaliers Of Dixie (1861) by Benjamin Porter embodies the chivalry, gentility and cultural sensibilities of the South. Lastly, to infuse his soundscape with the requisite cultural authenticity, Steiner interpolated several popular songs of the day by Stephen Foster including; Under the Willow (1860), Lou’siana Belle (1847), My Old Kentucky Home (1852), Swanee River (1851), Old Folks Home (1851) and Massa’s in de Cold (1852).

For the North, Steiner used the rousing Union anthem Marching Through Georgia (1865) by Henry Clay Work to support General Sherman’s devastating march of destruction across Georgia to the sea. He also utilized the Battle Hymn of the Republic (1862) by Julia Ward Howe as the iconic anthem was singularly identified with the Union. The rousing patriotic fervor of Tramp, Tramp, Tramp (1864) by George Root was one of the most popular anthems of the civil war and one used by Steiner for both the Union and Confederacy. Lastly, the Taps Theme employs the historic military bugle sound as a long-recognized motif of death used to honor the fallen. Steiner provides two love themes, which speak to the two loves of Ashley. The string born Ashley and Melanie Love Theme offers classic romanticism that is tender, spiritual, yet lacks passion and ardor. Scarlet and Ashley’s Love Theme however offers a clear juxtaposition by being overtly ardent and passionate, a reflection of Scarlet’s unrequited lust for Ashley. It is however with the Tara Theme, that the film achieves greatness. In a masterstroke Steiner created one of the most iconic themes in the history of film score art, one that has now passed unto legend. It symbolized the idyllic O’Hara plantation in the microcosm, and the Antebellum culture of the South in the macrocosm. Rendered in classic ABA form, the forthright long lined A Phrase is born by lush strings romantico with contrapuntal horns, while the more tender B Phrase is carried by yearning strings with horn doloroso counters. There is a wistfulness in the notes, a palpable sadness and yearning to return to a past, which has been lost forever, torn asunder by the cruel and unforgiving torrent of war. This theme always elicits a quiver and a tear, an astounding testament to the emotive power of music, which in my judgment earned Steiner immortality.

“Overture” opens the film, but is not found on the album. We open on strings tenero with the grace of Melanie’s Theme, at 0:37 we segue into the gorgeous Melanie and Ashley Love Theme. At 1:03 comes a confident statement of Rhett’s Theme, which in turn flows into Mammy’s Theme. We close at 1:40 with a beautiful extended rendering of Scarlett’s Theme. At 2:32 of the film we segue into the “Main Title”, which offers a supreme score highlight, opening grandly with the celebratory bells and horns bravura declarations of Alfred Newman’s trademark music for Selznick International. As the opening credits roll against sunset hued fields and cloudscapes, we hear brief statements of the Dixie and Mammy Themes, that usher in stepped horn declarations from which is born at 0:30 the iconic Tara Theme in all its magnificence as the film title sweeps across the screen. In a masterstroke Steiner earns immortality by capturing the film’s emotional core. The theme supports idyllic vistas of Tara’s natural beauty, achieving a breath-taking confluence. After statements of both the A and B Phrases we transition to a brief statement of Rhett’s Theme before returning to the Tara Theme at 2:36. We close at 3:22 carried by a sad wordless choral rendering of the Dixie Theme as on screen script portends the end of the Old South – “a civilization Gone With The Wind. . .”

“Tara” reveals flirtatious banter between Scarlett and the Tarleton twins on the O’Hara estate’s front porch. Steiner supports the interaction with interplay of Scarlett’s Katie Belle Theme and the Twins Theme. At 1:34 we segue into Ashley’s Theme as Scarlett is devastated upon hearing that Ashley intent to marry Melanie. We conclude with a light-hearted, almost prancing rendering of Mammy’s Theme as she scolds Scarlett from an upstairs window for abandoning her guests. “The O’Hara Family” opens with a pastorale of strings and banjo, which supports O’Hara’s slaves ending their long day in the cotton fields. At 0:19 we segue into the bold Irish strains of the Gerald O’Hara Theme, which receives an extended exposition, supporting his gallant ride across his fields. His theme softens and becomes tender as Scarlett lovingly greets him. At 1:55 ascending strings irato carry Scarlett’s flight from him after he informs her of Ashley’s intent to marry Melanie. As he consoles her a gentle statement of his theme supports the tender father, daughter moment. We segue at 2:42 into a heartfelt rendering of Tara Theme as he speaks to Scarlett of the importance of Tara’s land and his intent to bequeath the estate to her. As they stand in silhouette viewing Tara against the fiery sunset draped clouds, the theme swells for a magnificent statement. At 3:30 we segue into Mammy’s Theme as Mammy goes to greet Gerald and Scarlett who have returned home. At 4:06 dark strings doloroso and bassoon support Ellen O’Hara informing her foreman Mr. Wilkinson that his (bastard) child had mercifully died. As the O’Hara girls join to greet their parents, Katie Belle’s Theme carries the sweet moment. We close with the family kneeling in their evening prayer, which Steiner supports with a reverent religioso organ.

“Scarlett Prepares For The Barbecue” reveals Steiner’s mastery of his craft in supporting this complex multi-scenic passage. Mammy is assisting Scarlett dressing for the barbecue to be held at Twelve Oaks. Bubbling strings and woodwinds create a fanciful ambiance and are soon joined by an extended rendering of Mammy’s Theme as she lectures Scarlett on maintaining proper decorum so as to not embarrass the family. “Twelve Oaks” reveals guests entering the Wilke’s grand estate of Twelve Oaks. Using a string ensemble and banjo, Steiner infuses songs of that time in a Stephen Foster medley to establish the southern ambiance. It is amazing how well the three songs flow together seamlessly through the scene. We open with the festive dancelike Lou’siana Belle. At 0:22 we segue into Dolly Day, which sustains the spirited dance rhythms, transitioning again at 0:37 into the festive Ring de Banjo. We conclude ay 0:54 as we began with vibrant dance of Lou’siana Belle. “The Barbecue” opens with the string born Twins Theme as they greet Scarlet’s arrival. She breezes by them into the mansion to greet Ashley with a request to meet in private. At 0:25 he agrees but first asks her to greet Melanie. We are graced by a tender rendering of her theme as sweet Melanie welcomes Scarlett. Scarlett moves on and begins to flirt with all the dashing men supported by her Katie Belle Theme. At 1:39 Scarlett’s theme supports her flirting with Charles Hamilton, an allusion to her future impulsive marriage to him. She spots Rhett Butler at 2:28 and his theme supports her curiosity. We flow into the Melanie and Ashley Love Theme as they discuss their upcoming life together. At 4:17 we launch into the festive “Lou’siana Belle” as Scarlett is surrounded and fawned over by countless suitors. But the moment is lost and the Melanie Love Theme reprises as Scarlett sees Ashley and Melanie walking hand in hand.

In “Afternoon Nap” we see Mammy assisting Scarlett undress for the customary afternoon nap supported by Mammy’s Theme. As the girls all lay sleeping, Steiner interpolates the angelic and child-like sensibilities of the song melody “Sweet And Low” (1863) by Sir Joseph Barnaby to support the scene. We end darkly as the sun dial portends grim news. “Charles Hamilton Challenges Rhett” reveals Rhett causing outrage among the men when he suggests that the South would lose any war with the North, which he declares has more cannons, factories and ships. This elicits a challenge by Charles, but Rhett graciously apologizes for his “short-comings”. Steiner supports the tense scene with the song Cavaliers Of Dixie (1861) by Benjamin Porter, which embodies the chivalry, gentility and cultural sensibilities of the Antebellum South. We end with spritely flight music as Scarlett descends the stairs and coaches Ashley into the study. “In The Library” offers an exceptional score highlight. It reveals Scarlett shamelessly exhorting Ashley to abandon Melanie and instead marry her. He is an honorable man and refuses her, which evokes her ire and a slap to his face. Steiner supports the tense scene with a passionate full rendering of the Scarlett and Ashley Love Theme, expressed from her perspective. As we see her intensity and pressure upon Ashley building, so too does the theme, slowly shifting from passion to anger. We end darkly as Scarlett throws a porcelain vase against the mantle and Rhett rises from the couch to startle her.

In “War Is Declared” bubbling woodwinds carry Scarlett’s hiding under the grand staircase as Melanie descends, supported by her theme as she defends Scarlett from the harsh words of her sister and friends. At 0:30 strings eleganti usher in a bravado rendering of Dixie as the news of war rouses the men to rush off and enlist. At 1:15 the Scarlett and Ashley Love Theme swells with the pathos of unrequited love as Scarlett sees Melanie and Ashley kiss and realizes that he is lost to her. We close at 1:58 with a new Love Theme for Charles and Scarlett as he proposes marriage and Scarlett in her grief impulsively accepts. At 2:39 we flow atop a solemn organ to Scarlett’s wedding reception as she and Charles are congratulated. Her tears are not of joy, but rather for her unrequited yearning for Ashley. At 3:25 we segue atop dire horns into “The Death Of Charles” as the military elegy of Taps supports a letter, which informs Scarlett of Charles’ death. We flow into the mournful African-American spiritual song Massa’s in de Cold, which reveals a musical film narrative juxtaposition – we see Scarlett playing the role of grieving widow, and yet a closer examination reveals that she is not truly mourning, but is instead, relieved. In “Maryland, My Maryland” Scarlett cannot bear the social restrictions that require her to wear black and forego attending social gatherings. She rebels and attends a gala charity ball at the Atlanta Armory. Steiner sets the tone of the gathering with the Confederate anthem Maryland, My Maryland (1861) by James Ryder Randall, which offers harshly critical lyrics that vilify and condemn Abraham Lincoln and the Yankee aggression.

“At The Bazaar” reveals Scarlett shamelessly reuniting with Rhett and then defiantly proceeding to dance the Virginia Reel with him, causing a scandal. Steiner supports the dance and perfectly provides the ambiance by interpolating dance melodies of the day including; the Charleston Heel and Toe Polka and Southern Belle Waltz, and Can Can. In “Dances” we open with the quintessential Irish dance the Irish Washerwoman, with a segue at 0:21 into the waltz Garry Owen. At 1:22 we conclude with interplay of the Rhett and Scarlett Themes as we see a nascent attraction growing in Scarlett’s eyes. “Gettysburg” is supported by the iconic “When Johnny Comes Marching Home” (1863) by Patrick Gilmore, which abounds with the pride of the Confederacy. Yet Steiner renders a beleaguered minor modal statement as a desperate crowd waits for the delivery of the casualty list. Wailing and devastation follows as we see “Killed in action.” next to all the names. “Outside the Examiner Newspaper Office” offers a deeply moving score highlight where Steiner’s musical choices achieve a poignant confluence with Selznick’s narrative. The scene reveals a bandleader and his wife receiving news that their son had died at Gettysburg. He channels his grief by leading his band outside with a rousing rendering of the southern anthem “Dixie”. Reality however sets in and we flow into “When The Cruel War Is Over”, which also embodies patriotism, yet it also reflects the ravages of war, the longing for its end, and the return home of the South’s husbands and sons. Rhett joins Scarlett and relates his distaste for the waste of this war. Steiner juxtaposes this with the aspirational “When Johnny Comes Marching Home”, so full of longing for the pride of the Confederacy to return home victorious.

In “At The Depot” we read that a Christmas leave has been offered to the troops and Melanie and Scarlett travel to the train depot to greet Ashley. Steiner offers a rousing rendering of the Confederate anthem Bonnie Blue Flag to support the train’s arrival. At 0:26 we flow into “Warriors Return” an original set piece anthem by Steiner, which sustains the patriotic fervor of the scene. We shift to a scene at Aunt Pitty’s barn not supported by the album. We see the comedy of Uncle Peter chasing a rooster in the back yard, which is supported by interpolating of the folk song “Chicken Reel”. “Christmas At Aunt Pitty’s” opens offers a wondrous score highlight where we are graced with sumptuous renderings of both love themes. For this very complex musical cue Steiner employed both original and interpolated music to provide a compelling synergy to the film’s narrative. Everyone has assembled at Aunt Pitty’s to celebrate Christmas. The traditional Christmas ballad “Hark The Herald Angels Sing” establishes the ambiance. Steiner provides a solemn rendering with the melody embellished with contrapuntal flute. At 0:42 as Scarlett watches Melanie ascend to the bedroom we segue into the Melanie and Ashley Love Theme, which joins at 1:30 in sumptuous interplay by Melanie’s Theme. As they close the door we see a terrible sadness in Scarlett’s eyes, which Steiner supports with Scarlett’s and Ashely’s Love Theme so full of heartache. In the morning Ashley prepares to return to the front and we segue at 2:50 into a mournful rendering of “Cavaliers of Dixie”, which is joined by “Tramp, Tramp, Tramp” as he relates to Scarlett the terrible plight and suffering of the men under his command and his despair that the Confederacy is losing the war. We close passionately with the Scarlett and Ashley Love Theme as Ashley surrenders to Scarlett’s seduction with a parting kiss, which he immediately regrets and hastens his departure.

In “Melanie And Scarlett Tend The Wounded” Steiner provides the elegiac “Fall of the South”, so full of heartache, replete with tolling bells. Scarlett however cannot stomach the carnage at hospital and abandons her duties only to be swept away on the streets by currents of fleeing people. She by chance comes upon a group of her father’s slaves who have been ordered ahead of the Confederate army to dig trenches, to mount one last stand in defense of Atlanta. Steiner interpolates the spiritual “Go Down Moses” (not on the album) to carry their progress. In “Scarlett’s Promise” on screen script portends the sack of Atlanta empowered by a forceful string ascent countered by a dispirited rendering of Dixie, and mournful horn declarations. An angry Scarlett feels trapped by her circumstances, which requires she honor her promise to Ashley to care for Melanie. At 0:44 galloping strings carry a Confederate Calvary officer who stops to inform Scarlet that the Yankees will soon enter Atlanta. At 1:00 we segue into a threatening rendering of Tramp, Tramp, Tramp, joined by a frantic string ascent as Scarlett races up the stairs to evacuate Melanie. Yet Melanie is suffering and requires a doctor. Scarlet honors her promise to Ashley and sends Prissy out to find a doctor. At 1:24 we hear an extended heartfelt rendering of Melanie’s Theme so full of longing, which builds to a stirring climax as she thanks Scarlett and asks her to take care of her baby should she die. “Train Depot” offers another score highlight where Steiner’s musical choices elevate Selznick’s cinematography. It reveals Prissy returning without a doctor, which forces Scarlett to try to find one on her own. Scarlett’s arrival at the train depot in search for Dr. Meade reveals a truly horrific site as we see her walking through a vast sea of injured soldiers, which reveals the devastation of war. Strings doloroso play Maryland, My Maryland at a slower and aggrieved tempo with contrapuntal interplay from the elegiac Taps Theme, and a beleaguered Swanee River, which informs us that the Confederate cause is doomed.

In “Melanie In Labor” Dr. Meade refuses to leave the hospital and Scarlett returns to find Melanie in Labor. She resolves the she and Prissy will assume the role of midwife. Steiner offers interplay of Scarlett’s, Melanie’s and the Melanie and Ashley Love Themes to support the scene. “Rhett Returns” reveals Prissy recruiting Rhett at the local brothel to rescue Scarlett, Melanie and her baby Beau at Aunt Pitty’s. He arrives with a stolen horse and wagon to be greeted by a distraught Scarlett. She pleads with him to take them back to Tara but when he refuses due to Yankee soldiers she breaks down sobbing in his arms. An intensely distraught rendering of her theme supports the scene, subsiding as he comforts her. At 1:01 we segue into the Tara Theme with interplay of “My Old Kentucky Home” as Rhett reluctantly agrees to take them home. We conclude at 1:52 with a heartfelt rendering of Melanie’s Theme with interplay of Rhett’s Theme on horns as he carries her to the wagon. “Escape From Atlanta” offers some of the score’s finest action writing. Rhett is forced to go through downtown Atlanta to gain the one road out of town not cutoff by the Yankees. Churning strings propel their escape and continue to play as Steiner provides dynamic interplay of the Union anthems “Marching Through Georgia” and “Battle Hymn Of The Republic” with the Confederate “Dixie”. None of the anthems however articulate in their normal major modal forms, instead shifted by Steiner into minor modal forms, which better speak to the conflagration and chaos through which Rhett is navigating.

In “Soldiers In Retreat” the wagon comes upon weary and downtrodden Confederate soldiers in retreat. Their pride and fighting spirit have clearly been broken. Steiner speaks to this with interplay of the Confederate anthems “Dixie” and “Cavaliers of Dixie” now rendered with broken pride at a slow and beleaguered tempo. “Rhett And Scarlett On McDonough Road” offers the score’s most romantic moment as Steiner and Selznick achieve a sublime confluence of film narrative, cinematography and music. Against the backdrop of fiery crimson skies Rhett stops the wagon and announces that he intends to leave and join the Confederate army for its last stand. Cello doloroso usher in a noble rendering of Rhett’s Theme at 0:17 to support his announcement. Scarlett is stunned and her theme enters on strings passionate at 0:48 as she entreats Rhett to not abandon her. He however is determined and lifts her off the wagon to say goodbye. Steiner begins a breath-taking crescendo of passion as he forthrightly declares his love for Scarlett, cresting at 1:52 as they at last kiss. She slaps and berates him, but he departs as a gentleman. Scarlett is abandoned, weeps, and from out her tears rises the Tara Theme, which informs us of her resolve to return home. In “Twelve Oaks In Ruin” a crescendo of anticipation crests in sadness as Scarlett and Melanie gaze upon Twelve Oaks, which stands in ruin. At 0:56 the Melanie and Ashley Love Theme joins as Melanie see John Wilkes grave and she thinks of Ashley. They find a cow, rope it and press on to Tara. At 1:38 we segue into “Scarlett Comes Home” carried by a heartfelt rendering of the Tara Theme as Scarlett at last regains her beloved home. As the moon passes out from the clouds, she sees that Tara still stands and we begin glorious crescendo of passion as Scarlett runs to the mansion. She pounds on the door and her father opens the door, which elicits joy as she hugs him, yet we see only a vacant stare, which informs us that he is unwell. At 2:43 a tender rendering of his theme supports his embrace and calling of her name. At 2:59 a warm rendering of Mammy’s Theme supports a thankful reunion. Yet all is not well as she deflects Scarlett’s inquiries about her mother. We end on strings affanato and tolling bells as it is revealed that her mother died last night of typhus. We close in despair atop a grieving Tara Theme.

“I’ll Never Be Hungry Again!” offers a score highlight and one of the film’s finest moments. It reveals a dispirited Scarlett as the Yankees have taken all the livestock, house hold possessions and money leaving them with no food or money. We open with “Marching Through Georgia” that speaks to the Yankee aftermath. It yields to a beleaguered Tara Theme, which supports their sad state of affairs. As she discusses their dire circumstances with her father his tender theme joins yet demurs to a crescendo of frustration. At 1:57 discordant variant of “Dixie” plays as Scarlett discovers that his bonds are Confederate and worthless. A dispirited rendering of Gerald’s Theme unfolds as he counsels that her mother will know what to do, thus informing us of his dementia. A plaintive rendering of Mammy’s Theme supports her informing Scarlett that all they have is some radishes in the garden. Strings doloroso sow despair as a despondent Scarlett exits the house and walks to the fields. At 3:57 Scarlett walks silhouetted against the orange sunset skies as a reserved Tara Theme carries her progress. At 4:25 a desperate ascent on strings supports her pulling a radish from the ground and eating it, only to spit it out. We conclude with inspired emotive power for perhaps the film’s most iconic scene. We ascend on a stirring string crescendo, which unleashes the score’s most powerful declaration of the Tara Theme as Scarlett declares to God that she will do whatever it takes to never be hungry again. Once more the confluence of film narrative, cinematography and music is brilliant. Selznick decided to not use “Alternate Entr’acte” for the film. Steiner’s original conception was a suite comprised of horns militare, a dispirited interplay of “Dixie” and the “Battle Hymn of the Republic”.

In “Battle Montage” on screen script set against massive flames and a marching army inform us of Sherman’s destructive march from Atlanta to Savannah on the coast; a crippling blow from which the South could not recover. Steiner supports the devastation with horns militare, which usher in the brutal “Marching Through Georgia” anthem. At 0:52 we change scenes to the cotton fields of Tara supported by the Tara Theme, as we see the O’Hara daughters picking cotton per Scarlett’s command. At 1:52 Gerald’s Theme supports his admonishing of Scarlett for being too tough on their slaves. We close on Melanie’s Theme as Scarlett orders her back to bed after she offers to help. “The Deserter” offers a tension cue as a Union deserter rides in atop galloping music, which supports his arrival. As he enters the house a dire “Marching Through Georgia” supports his progress. Scarlett obtains her father’s pistol and is caught on the stairs. We close on a tension crescendo as he climbs the stairs towards Scarlett and crest with an orchestral strike as she shoots him in the face. In “Melanie And Scarlett” they deal with the aftermath of the killing, searching his body and finding significant cash. Scarlett pulls the body outside to bury the evidence while Melanie cleans the blood from the floor. Steiner sows a grim soundscape to support the aftermath with strains of Gerald’s Theme as they keep him at bay, stating that the pistol went off accidentally. As the two conspire to keep the murder secret we have interplay of Tara’s Theme, Melanie’s Theme, and grim tension writing. “It’s Over!” reprises the exciting galloping music of “Gerald O’Hara’s Theme as he rides in and exuberantly declares that the war is over. At 1:04 a beleaguered “Dixie” plays as we see Confederate soldiers returning to a desolated homeland. At 1:17 Mammy’s Theme supports her exhortation to their soldier friends to remove their clothing for cleaning and to wash themselves with lye soap to kill the lice. A warm rendering of “Dixie” supports Melanie’s generosity in feeding the soldiers, many of which are emaciated. We close with Tara’s Theme as Melanie shares news that Ashley was captured and may soon be released from a Yankee prison.

“Frank Kennedy Asks For Suellen’s Hand” reveals Frank Kennedy’s return from war. Given her father’s incapacity, he asks Scarlett as matriarch of House O’Hara for permission to marry her sister Suellen, to which Scarlett assents. Steiner supports this testament of love with a beautiful Fosteresque romantic piece. At 1:07 dire drums emote “Marching Through Georgia” as a solitary man is seen walking up the path, Melanie recognizes him as Ashley and runs arms outstretched to him, thankful carried by a resplendent rendering of their Love Theme for one of the score’s finest moments. Scarlett tries to follow but is restrained and castigated by Mammy for her impropriety. “Paddock Scene” offers an exquisite score highlight, which showcases Steiner’s peerless romantic writing. The cue supports a poignant emotional scene where all pretense is laid bare between Ashley and Scarlett. Scarlett comes to Ashley who is splitting wood in the paddock, and he reveals his love for Scarlett, with the caveat that he will never leave Melanie and Beau. We open with a plaintive rendering of “When Johnny Comes Marching Home” which supports Ashley toiling chopping wood. At 0:44 Tara’s Theme reprises as Scarlett informs him of the enormous $300 tax bill. As Scarlett pleads with him to abandon Melanie and Beau and go to Mexico with her, Steiner unleashes passionate interplay of Ashley’s Theme, Ashley and Scarlett’s Love Theme and Melanie’s Theme which achieves a breath-taking climax at 2:53. We close as they kiss one last time and he states that honor requires him to take Melanie and leave. Scarlett’s sad realization and pathos is supported with interplay with her unrequited Love Theme and Melanie’s Theme. We close with a reaffirming reprise of Tara’s Theme as Ashley places dirt in Scarlett’s hand informing her that Tara, not he is her great love.

In “Gerald’s Death” Wilkerson, now a despised carpetbagger, pays a visit with the intent to buy Tara but is pointedly rebuffed by Scarlett who throws dirt in his face. He leaves stating he will get Tara never the less at the auction when she defaults on the taxes. Sprightly travel music supports Wilkerson’s arrival with defiant phrases of the Tara Theme as Scarlett rebukes him. As he departs Gerald mounts his horse at 1:18 and pursues the carriage carried vigorously by his theme, but he is thrown from his horse and dies to a sad rendering of the Tara Theme. “Old Folks At Home” is supported by a harmonica carried rendering of the song “Swanee River”. In “The New Store” Scarlett by chance meets Frank Kennedy who has become a successful business man running a store and lumber mill. She sees him as a vehicle to save Tara and uses lies and subterfuge to elicit a marriage proposal, thus betraying her sister. She then uses his money to pay-off Tara’s reconstruction tax debt, and secures Ashley a job at her lumber mill. Steiner uses flirtatious music and Scarlett’s Theme to support her efforts. “Scarlett In Shantytown” reveals making an ill-considered trip through Shantytown where she is attacked and almost killed. We open with carefree travel music which carries her progress. At 0:39 strings furioso launch the attack and contest with an aggressive counter by her theme as she battles the two men. At 1:37 she loses and one of the men moves towards her supported by menacing strings yet she is rescued by an old Tara slave at 1:45 as Steiner whips his orchestra into frenzy as they escape to safety.

In “Ashley And Dr. Meade” Scarlett’s wounds are ministered to by Dr. Meade. Impassioned strings join with her theme for a beautiful extended exposition. Union soldiers soon arrive intent on arresting Ashley for the vigilante raid on Shantytown. At 0:24 strings romantico usher in sumptuous interplay of Ashley’s Theme, Melanie’s Theme and their Love Theme, which supports Rhett and his arrival as they feign drunkenness to avoid arrest. They succeed, the soldiers leave, and at 1:47 we segue atop dire strings into “Frank’s Death” as Rhett informs Scarlett that her husband died leading a raid on the Shanty Town to avenge her. “Belle Watling And Melanie” reveals Belle Watling, a ‘confidant’ of Rhett paying an unexpected visit to Melanie. She had heard that Melanie intended to thank her and came to save her the shame of visiting a brothel. We are treated to one of the score’s finest moments as we are graced by beautiful interplay of their two themes. In “Scarlett Gets Tipsy” Scarlett succumbs to self-pity and despair, becoming drunk as she again finds herself widowed. Steiner uses comedic woodwinds and silly strings speak to her external appearance and behavior. By chance Rhett pays a visit and unexpectedly proposes to Scarlett who rebuffs him. Yet he is determined and she eventually ascents after a passionate kiss and promise of a beautiful diamond wedding ring. Steiner chose not to score the scene. In “New Orleans Honeymoon” Rhett and Scarlett travel to New Orleans to celebrate their honeymoon. Steiner’s approach is however not joyous, or celebratory but instead solemn, interpolating the melody of “Star and Summer Night” by Isaac Baker supported by wordless chorus.“Can-Can” offers the traditional dance melody, which supports the stage show as they dine at a cabaret. In “Scarlett’s New Wardrobe” Rhett, who is very wealthy, indulges Scarlett’s insatiable shopping spree for a new wardrobe. Her theme supports her happiness and is joined by Mammy’s Theme when Rhett suggests a gift for her devoted servant.

“Scarlett’s Nightmare” reveals Scarlett waking from a nightmare, calmed by Rhett’s kiss and embrace. She asks Rhett to take her back home to Tara and he agrees. Dissonant slithering strings ascend as she screams during the nightmare, becoming consonant and resplendent atop the Tara Theme as Rhett come to her. As he comforts her supporting his warm theme carries the scene. As we shift to them strolling the grounds at Tara, a bright and confident Tara Theme crowns the Scarlett’s joy as Rhett agrees to restore the estate to its former greatness as well as their mansion in Atlanta. Steiner interpolates the Bridal Chorus from the Bridal March from Richard Wagner’s opera “Lohengrin” (1850) as Sue Ellen cries that Scarlett’s has had three husbands while she will die an old maid. We close with Mammy’s Theme as Mammy and the other house servants are seen walking up the path to Scarlett’s grand mansion in Atlanta. In “Bonnie’s Birth” an anxious Rhett is pacing as he waits news of Scarlett’s child birth. Steiner supports the anticipatory moment and joyous news with sterling interplay of Scarlett’s and Rhett’s Themes. “Twenty Inches!” offers potent drama, with Steiner demonstrating mastery of his craft. We see a petulant Scarlett upset that her post childbirth waist is 20 inches. She informs Mammy that she will sleep in a separate bedroom and will not have any more children. Flighty comedic strings dance to and fro, joined by an assertive Mammy’ Theme to support the scene. At 0:50 Ashley’s Theme supports Scarlett opening a photo case, which reveals his photo and her continued infatuation. At 1:33 Rhett arrives to receive news of Scarlett’s desire to end conjugal relations. Rhett is clearly pained and we see a growing anger rise in him. Steiner entwines their themes in anguish, culminating in anger as he kicks open their bedroom door to exit and throws a brandy glass at her portrait. We change scenes as 2:42 carried by Belle’s Theme with interplay of Bonnie’s Theme as she comforts Rhett and reminds him that he is still Bonnie’s father, and that she needs him.

“The Lumber Mill” reveals Ashley at the lumber mill supported by his secondary theme “Deep River”, which speaks of his weariness and sadness. As they reminisce about the good old days before the war their themes entwine, yet the moment is bittersweet. He sees that he has made her sad and gives her a tender embrace, but the moment is shattered as Melanie enters to discover them. Rhett forces Scarlett to go to Ashley’s birthday party to allow Melanie the satisfaction of throwing her out of her house. “After The Party” offers one of the score’s most dramatic cues. Steiner interpolates “For He’s A Jolly Good Fellow” on fiddle as everyone sings around Ashley’s birthday cake. All comes to a stop as Scarlett enters the house, only to be greeted warmly with a kiss by Melanie. Back home, Scarlett descends the grand staircase to encounter Rhett, who is drunk. At 0:57 rage builds on dire strings as Rhett’s fury simmers at Scarlett’s persistent affections for Ashley. A grim ascent crescendo from the lowest register of the orchestral swells as he grasps her head and states that he would like to remove Ashley from her mind forever. His tortured theme strengthens with a terrible resolve and swells powerfully to support his drunken rage as he forcibly carries Scarlett up to the bedroom and commits marital rape. The next morning Scarlett awakes brimming with cheerfulness. Steiner supports the moment (not on the album) with the English folk song “Ben Bolt” in which she sings the second stanza; “Oh she wept with delight when he gave her a smile, and trembled with fear at his frown.”

In “London” Rhett takes Bonnie with him on a business trip to London. A music box plays “Bonnie Blue Flag” as Rhett informs Bonnie he is taking her on a trip to London. At 0:36 a dissonant and disquieting rendering of “London Bridge is Falling Down” portends that Bonnie will not enjoy the trip. Rhett’s Theme enters but we discern that a transformation has occurred. Gone is its prior confidence and masculine strength, emoted now a more sad and tragic sensibility, reflecting his growing despair regarding his marriage to Scarlett. We close warmly with Bonnie’s Theme as she asks Rhett to please take her back home. “Rhett And Scarlett’s Fight” offers a very emotional cue with evocative interplay of Scarlett’s and Mamy’s Themes, and Rhett’s and Melanie’s Themes. The scene reveals Rhett and Bonnie returning home. A fight immediately erupts when Scarlett declares she is pregnant and Rhett asks who is the father. Tragedy strikes when Scarlett attempts to strike Rhett, loses her balance and falls down the stairs, which results in a miscarriage. The cue opens with a desperate orchestral descent as Rhett races down the stairs to the fallen Scarlett. As Scarlett struggles in bed she and is comforted by Mammy, their themes interplay to support the tender moment. As Rhett drinks and grieves his anguished theme informs us that he blames himself for her accident and circumstances. As Melanie comforts Rhett and assures him that Scarlett still loves him, her tender theme assuages Rhett’s grief and gives him hope.

In “The Death Of Bonnie” we witness a profound and shattering tragedy, the final blow to their marriage as Scarlett and Rhett watch Bonnie’s death after being thrown from her horse. We open with Rhett joining Scarlett on the patio and declaring that he loves her, making a heartfelt offer to begin anew. Steiner supports the scene with a warming of both their themes, which join hopefully in beautiful interplay. At 1:30 Bonnie arrives on her pony supported by her fanciful theme. She insists she is going to jump today and playful woodwinds and string propel her riding off over Rhett’s objections. She gains speed and disobeys Rhett’s repeated commands to stop. Scarlett is exasperated sits down and relates that Bonnie is just like her father. Instantly we see terror swell in her expression supported at 2:01 by a galloping rendering of Gerald’s Theme. The music crescendos and crests with a tragic orchestral shriek as Bonnie is thrown from the pony head first threw the wood jump fence. We close tragically atop grieving strings affanato. “Melanie And Mammy” offers a score highlight where Steiner fully expresses the profound suffering and tragedy of the scene. We open darkly with a tragic rendering of Bonnie’s Theme replete with tolling bells as Melanie comes to the house to pay her respects and is greeted by Mammy. As Mammy relates the tragedy and suffering of Scarlett and Rhett, Scarlet’s Theme is rendered by strings affanato and joins with Melanie’s grieving theme. We culminate with a crescendo of pain as Melanie’s heart gives out and she collapses after leaving the viewing. “The Death Of Melanie” offers another stirring score highlight, which reveals the death of Melanie. Steiner scores the scene with a sublime tributary rendering of her theme, which ascends in resplendent beauty as Melanie asks her to look after her son and Ashley, as well as Rhett who she says truly loves her. After she leaves the room, she collapses at 3:31 and cries in Ashley’s arms as we see an inconsolable Rhett depart. Ashley’s Theme supports his confession to Scarlet of his eternal love for Melanie, and we see in her eyes a realization that this pathetic middle-aged man is no longer worthy of her interest. We close on with Ashley leaving to join Melanie carried with a final reprise of the Melanie and Ashley’s Love Theme.

In “Scarlett In The Mist” another score highlight is realized where Steiner’s impassioned music supports the film’s emotional she discovers that he has left, she runs out into the mist calling for him desperately carried by Bonnie’s Theme. An orchestral ascent carries her to the study where she finds him alone. As she informs him of Melanie’s death her tender theme graces us one last time by strings doloroso with stirring counterpoint. Yet the music sours when she relates Melanie’s last words; that Rhett really loved her, and that she look after Ashley. We segue at 2:12 into “Rhett Leaves” as he begins packing his travel bag. Scarlet begins pleading with him to stay while affirming her love for him supported by a desperate rendering of her theme, now impassioned with a rising sense of urgency. An orchestral descent carries her down the staircase where she grabs him at the door and declares “What shall I do? “Where shall I go?” and he retorts, “Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn.” As he departs at 4:52 we close on a confident rendering of his theme as we see him disappear into the mist. We close in anguish with a tragic rendering of her theme as she weeps uncontrollably. We conclude in fine fashion with “Flashback/Finale” where we see Scarlett weeping without hope on the stairs. We hear her father’s voice calling upon her to remember that she is tied to the land and it is from Tara that she will gain strength. Steiner supports her father’s words with a confident reprise of his theme. Slowly, we bear witness to a stirring crescendo on Gerald’s Theme, which culminates with Scarlett’s hopeful declaration; “I’ll go home – and I’ll think of someway to get him back. After all, tomorrow is another day.” “Steiner supports her declaration with a magnificent rendering of a choral empowered Tara Theme, which ends gloriously in a flourish as her silhouette is seen against the fiery sunset skies of Tara.

I would like to thank Turner Classic Movies, Rhino Movie Music, and producers George Feltenstein and Bradley Flanagan for this remastered, two CD cox set of Max Steiner’s masterpiece, “Gone With The Wind”. Although the sound quality does not achieve current industry qualitative standards, the remastering was largely successful and provides a pleasant listening experience. Steiner composed an astounding thirteen themes for the film, including two love themes, while interpolating a multiplicity of anthems and songs to represent both the Union and Confederacy. The thematic interplay is of the highest order, and in scene after scene the confluence of film narrative, cinematography and music was sublime. In my judgment Selznick’s vision was achieved in large part because of Steiner’s masterful score. Folks, this score is glorious, and demonstrates the extent that film music can empower and enhance a film’s narrative. I believe it to be Steiner’s greatest score, one of the prized gems of the Golden Age, and an essential score for collectors of film score art. I highly recommend you purchase it for your collection.

For those of you unfamiliar with the score, I have embedded a Youtube link for a wondrous 16 minute suite, which brings you Steiner’s masterpiece.

Buy the Gone With the Wind soundtrack from the Movie Music UK Store

Track Listing:

  • Main Title (4:06)
  • Tara (2:15)
  • The O’Hara Family (6:18)
  • Scarlett Prepares For The Barbecue (2:21)
  • Twelve Oaks (1:17)
  • The Barbecue (Extended Version) (5:24)
  • Afternoon Nap (2:00)
  • Charles Hamilton Challenges Rhett (1:07)
  • In The Library (2:32)
  • War Is Declared/The Death Of Charles (4:05)
  • At The Bazaar (1:05)
  • Maryland, My Maryland (1:44)
  • Dances (1:53)
  • Gettysburg (0:56)
  • Outside the Examiner Newspaper Office (2:14)
  • At The Depot (1:08)
  • Christmas At Aunt Pitty’s (4:58)
  • Melanie And Scarlett Tend The Wounded (1:23)
  • Scarlett’s Promise (Extended Version) (3:40)
  • Train Depot (Extended Version) (2:09)
  • Melanie In Labor (0:37)
  • Rhett Returns (3:00)
  • Escape From Atlanta (2:46)
  • Soldiers In Retreat (1:23)
  • Rhett And Scarlett On McDonough Road (3:14)
  • Twelve Oaks In Ruin/Scarlett Comes Home (4:42)
  • I’ll Never Be Hungry Again! (6:07)
  • Alternate Entr’acte (1:49)
  • Battle Montage (2:55)
  • The Deserter (1:33)
  • Melanie And Scarlett (3:15)
  • It’s Over! (Extended Version) (3:04)
  • Frank Kennedy Asks For Suellen’s Hand (Extended Version) (3:08)
  • Paddock Scene (5:26)
  • Gerald’s Death (Extended Version) (2:28)
  • Old Folks At Home (Swanee River) (0:19)
  • The New Store (0:53)
  • Scarlett In Shantytown (2:32)
  • Ashley And Dr. Meade/Frank’s Death (1:59)
  • Belle Watling And Melanie (2:43)
  • Scarlett Gets Tipsy (0:46)
  • New Orleans Honeymoon (0:31)
  • Can-Can (0:34)
  • Scarlett’s New Wardrobe (0:47)
  • Scarlett’s Nightmare (2:24)
  • Bonnie’s Birth (1:22)
  • Twenty Inches! (4:45)
  • The Lumber Mill (2:12)
  • After The Party (2:54)
  • London (2:37)
  • Rhett And Scarlett’s Fight (3:31)
  • The Death Of Bonnie (2:27)
  • Melanie And Mammy (3:49)
  • The Death Of Melanie (5:19)
  • Scarlett In The Mist/Rhett Leaves (5:55)
  • Flashback/Finale (1:21)

Running Time: 147 minutes 15 seconds

Rhino RS-72269 (1939/1996)

Music composed and conducted by Max Steiner. Orchestrations by Leo Arnaud, R. H. Bassett, George Bassman, Cecil Copping, Maurice De Packh, Adolph Deutsch, Hugo Friedhofer, Bernhard Kaun, Arthur Kay, Albert Hay Malotte, Joseph Nussbaum, Darol Rice and Heinz Roemheld. Recorded and mixed by Earl B. Mounce. Edited by Stuart Frye. Score produced by Louis Forbes and Max Steiner. Album produced by George Feltenstein and Bradley Flanagan.

  1. December 2, 2015 at 3:29 am

    Quite a coincidence! Recently found this gem in a bargain bin: re-recorded by the NPO. Whilst the offering is a short 50 minutes, the quality was superb. Having the score on full blast when this post appeared. Quite a magnificent venture.

  2. Captain Future
    December 3, 2015 at 12:08 pm

    The above indicated re-recording by Charles Gerhardt is brilliant, as is all of the Classic Film Scores series. Great review, Craig, of one of the defining scores in film history.

  3. Helen Walker
    May 14, 2022 at 1:45 pm

    I cannot listen to this beautiful movie track of GWTW without crying and crying. I’m 75 now but first saw the movie at age 9. Being a romantic to the core I can’t take the ending at all. I want Scarlett to finally have Ashley. His presence is always between Scarlett and Rhett. I believe Mitchell would have Rhett divorce Scarlett and because Scarlett promised Melanie to look after Ashley, Beau and the mills that their lives are forever entwined. Tara will be played at my funeral.
    Even if Howard didn’t like his role he played it well and gave the most passionate kiss in the whole movie.Thank you Max Steiner. The book is a 100 times better than the movie!

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