THE THIEF OF BAGDAD – Miklós Rózsa
Original Review by Craig Lysy
Renowned director Alexander Korda had long envisioned embarking on a remake of the 1924 fantasy adventure The Thief of Bagdad. He set his plans into motion early in 1939, selecting German director Ludwig Berger to manage the project. Creative differences however led to Berger’s replacement as well as his composer Oscar Straus. British director Michael Powell was brought in, however when World War II began, he was transferred to the War Office to begin work on a morale-boosting documentary. Because of the Nazi Blitz, Korda was forced to move film production to Hollywood and American director Tim Whelan was tasked with salvaging the film. The original cast was retained, which included; Conrad Veidt as Jaffar, Sabu as Abu, June Duprez as the Princess, John Justin as Ahmed, Rex Ingram as Djinn, Miles Malleson as the Sultan. The story takes inspiration from the classic Arabian tale One Thousand and One Nights, as well as the novel The Tower and the Elephant by Robert Howard, and offers a classic villain, the love story of a handsome young prince and princess, a heroic young boy, magic, and adventure.
It comes to pass that the evil Grand Vizier Jaffar covets the throne, which he usurps from the naïve young Sultan Ahmad, whom he imprisons and sentences to death. The young thief Abu comes to his rescue and they escape to Basra where they plan to join Sinbad on an adventure. These plans fall apart when Ahmad meets the Princess and they fall in love. Jaffar however will have none of it. When he discovers them he uses dark magic to blind Ahmad, place the Princess into a deep sleep and turns Abu into a dog! After the Princess is awakened she allows Jaffar’s embrace to restore Ahmad’s sight and Abu to human form. Yet she is betrayed as Jaffar creates a storm, which shipwrecks them. Abu by chance comes across a bottle and releases a genie, which grants him three wishes, two of which he wastes carelessly. Eventually though Abu secures a magic flying carpet after overcoming many obstacles, and comes to the rescue of Ahmad and the Princess. He saves the day by killing Jaffar with a magical golden crossbow. In gratitude Ahmad announces that Abu will be sent to school to train as his new Vizier, but Abu will have none of it and flies away to find new adventures. The film was a commercial success and achieved critical acclaim, earning four Academy Award nominations including; Best Cinematography, Best Art Direction, Best Special Effects and Best Film Score, winning all but the award for Best Film Score.
Director Michael Powell and Korda colluded to bring in Miklós Rózsa as they were appalled by Straus’ score. When Berger and Straus were finally replaced, Rózsa was retained after production moved to Hollywood. One wonders if Korda’s original conception was a musical given the number of songs Rózsa was asked to weave into the score’s tapestry. Rózsa wrote six with Lord Baron Robert Vansittart providing the lyrics; The Waltz song, Abu’s Thief song, the Love song, the Caravan song, Djinn’s song and the Marketplace song. In classic Golden Age style, Rózsa used leitmotifs, offering a rich tapestry of themes for characters, settings, creatures, and objects. For his primary themes we have the playful and mischievous Abu’s Theme, which was derived from the song “I Want to be a Sailor”. It has a lightness of being, and is always in motion moving to and fro. Ahmad’s Theme is not your typical hero’s theme in that it emotes without bravado. Indeed the word that best describes its articulation is tenderness. There is also a fanfare variant declared by warm horns nobile, and a militarized variant when he fights to save the Princess. The Princess Theme, like Abu’s is derived form a song, in this case, the Love Song, which is sung in the palace garden in Basra. It reveals Rózsa’s classic florid and unabashed romanticism replete with a stirring octave leap. It is in essence the score’s Love Theme. Our villain Jaffar’s Theme is tritonic and sinister, often joined in malignant interplay with his secondary themes; his ship, and his use of magical powers.
For his secondary themes we have the Djinn Theme, which has tritone oriental auras and emotes powerfully with horn declarations, low register strings and woodwinds, which attest to his enormity. The choral rich and grandiose Flying Theme supports the Genie’s flight atop the earth and Rózsa expresses it with both grandeur and splendor, fully capturing the magnificence of flight. The Bagdad Theme offers rich ethnic auras, emoting with a vibrant and distinctly oriental sensibility. For the Sultan Theme we have a playful, if not child-like sensibility, which perfectly captures his spirit. A variant by mocking bassoon is expressed when viewed from the disdainful Jaffar’s perspective. The Story-telling Theme is plaintive as it supports Ahmad’s recounting of the loss of his kingship, his Princess and his best friend, Abu. There is a wonderful theme for the Mechanical flying horse, one where Rózsa fully captures its mechanical nature. The Music Box Theme, offers a shimmering resplendent identity, which perfectly embodies the Sultan’s miniature acrobats. Lastly, we have the Flying Carpet Theme, a classic flight theme, which soars, propelled by twinkling percussion, resplendent strings and woodwinds animato.
“Main Titles” opens the film grandly as the opening credits roll atop heraldic fanfare sounding Ahmad’s Theme. We flow effortlessly into the Princess Theme that is introduced by wordless female chorus, and from which blossoms a sumptuous orchestral statement. At 1:20 we see Jaffar’s ship sailing into Basra harbor, propelled by a grand horn declared rendering of his theme. Jaffar’s Theme resounds as we see him for the first time arriving on his ship. At 1:47 we segue into “Seaman’s Song” where a unnamed male soloist sings the song as the camera pans over the bustling harbor. At 3:02 Jaffar’s Theme returns with grandeur and soon joined in sinister synergy at 3:10 with the kindred Ship Theme. We conclude darkly on Jaffar’s Theme as we see him lower his face veil exposing his menacing glare. “Bagdad Harbour” was a misnomer by Rózsa as the city has no harbor. We see a vibrant and busy street life, which is supported by the distinctly ornate oriental auras of the Bagdad Theme. Soon we come upon a blind Ahmad and his dog (Abu) begging for alms. At 1:28 woodwinds mysterioso carry Jaffar’s servant Halima who lures our heroes to his house. In “Jaffar and the Doctor” the princess lies motionless, held captive by a sleeping spell. Interplay of her now minor modal theme on oboe, and Jaffar’s ominous theme on horns carries the moment. The doctor advises that only a blind man can break the spell.
“The Thief’s Song” was initially conceived for Abu’s introduction, after which the melody would be used to support his ‘profession.’ During the score’s restoration, only an instrumental version was found. As such lyrics have been written by Rebecca Devereux in an effort to capture Rózsa’s original conception. The song is a playful little ditty, which perfectly captures Abu’s spirit. In “Ahmad Telling His Story” Ahmad arrives at Jaffar’s house and a small ensemble provides a serenade as he tells his sad story of how he was once the King, and his dog once his friend Abu. Rózsa supports the threnody of his former life with the lyrical Story-telling Theme, which is carried by solo cello, kindred strings and woodwinds. A later joining with his theme adds poignancy. At 1:18 we segue comically into “Thief Sequence” in a scene change we see Abu stealing fish to feed two beggars. His animated theme supports his ‘Robin Hood’ efforts. He successfully escapes by climbing into the palace where regal fanfare supports King Ahmad’s speech at court. “The Market” was the original version of “Thief Sequence,” a cue written first at Berger’s request from which he would adapt his filming. It is an extended colorful piece replete with both vocals and chorus. Berger’s inability to adapt his filming to this set piece doomed him and he was soon fired. The final film version of this scene was significantly shorter; as such the cue was never used.
In “Witnessing an Execution” we have a flash back as a saddened Ahmad witnesses an execution demanded by his Grand Vizier Jaffar. Rózsa supports the sad moment with interplay of Ahmad’s Theme born by plaintive flute arabesques, strings and a sinister Jaffar’s Theme replete with drums of doom. “Jaffar’s Advice” reveals Jaffar bidding Ahmad to disguise himself in the simple garb of a commoner and join the city so he may better understand his people. An ominous variant of Jaffar’s Theme joins in interplay with the Bagdad Theme to support the moment. At 0:46 we segue into “Bagdad Night” atop a wonderful extended rendering of the Bagdad Theme as we see Ahmad exploring city life on the streets of Bagdad. In “Ahmad and Abu Imprisoned” Jaffar carries out his plan and orders Ahmad arrested. When Ahmad asserts his identity as king he is declared mad and Abu also arrested for being a thief. A plaintive Abu’s Theme with interplay of Jaffar’s Theme supports the scene. At 0:49 we segue into “Abu Steals the Key” atop a joyful Abu’s Theme, as unbeknown to the jailer, Abu has stolen his keys. Although Ahmad fears for their execution, Abu assures him that they will be long gone come morning. Abu’s bright and hopeful theme supports the moment. At 1:22 we segue into “Ahmad and Abu Escape” where it is sunrise and we see Ahmad and Abu swimming to safety. Ahmad’s Theme carries their progress. Later as he informs Abu of his true identity horn declarations of his theme sound and are joined by menacing distant horn fare that inform us that Jaffar has dispatched troops to recapture them.
In “I Want to Be a Sailor” Abu formally introduces himself to Ahmad and proposes that they steal a boat and seek adventure with Sinbad in Basra. Rózsa supports his antics with a delightful song, whose melody perfectly embodies the spirit of our little thief. It is playful, carefree and abounds with an unaffected free spirit. At 2:02 we segue into “River Scenes” a scene and cue that was excised from the film. We surmise it covered their river travel to Basra and the cue reveals interplay of the Bagdad, Ahmad, Abu themes with horn declarations of Jaffar’s Theme. “The Market of Basra” is an exceptional score highlight, a dance-like form, which abounds with rich and vibrant oriental auras. Rózsa uses the up-tempo piece to instill exotic vital energy as we see Ahmad and Abu walking amidst the bustling Basra streets and markets. “Horsemen’s Fanfare” is a horn lovers dream come true as Rózsa dazzles us with resplendent antiphonal horn fare. The scene reveals the arrival of Jaffar’s troops to escort the Princess to the palace. No one is permitted to gaze upon her under pain of death. We bear witness to bold and regal heraldic fanfare, yet there is menace in the notes. “Procession” reveals the Princess’ procession to the palace. Rózsa supports her progress with a delightful marcia giocoso. We see in Ahmad’s eyes that he is love struck when he beholds her for the first time. We are graced at 0:53 by an effusive, sumptuous and heart stirring rendering of his theme, with the cue concluding as it began with the procession march, this time accented with a playful Abu’s Theme.
In “Love Song” the Princess swings to and fro on a swing in her sanctuary garden. Rózsa creates an idyllic ambiance by rendering his Love Theme by solo female voice with chorus. “Love Scene” is a wondrous score highlight abounding with florid romanticism. It reveals Ahmad and the Princess meeting for the first time in the seclusion of her bathing pool. She initially mistakes his reflection in her pool from the tree above for a Djinn, yet when he descends we can see that they are both clearly entranced and Rózsa supports their introduction with a playful and animated rendering of Ahmad’s Theme. What unfolds is stirring interplay of their two themes, as they express their heart’s content. The solo violin work joined by chorus is beautiful and the confluence achieved, sublime. At 3:55 we segue into “I Must See Her Again” where a smitten Ahmad has left and confides to Abu that he must see the Princess again. A reluctant Abu acquiesces to the inevitable and their boat trip is supported tenderly with interplay of their two themes. “Waltz Song” was a song intended for scene 4M8, which was excised from the film. The melody emotes with a carefree classic Viennese waltz like sensibility. The lyrics of the song have been lost, however Rebecca Devereux penned lyrics and when joined with Edita Aderlova’s sterling vocals, the result is wondrous!
The following quaternary cue offers a score highlight where Rózsa introduces new themes and provides inspired interplay. In “Jaffar Arrives” the usurper has come to visit the Sultan, carried by his imperious and pompous fanfare. The antiphonal horn declarations here are just exceptional! At 0:45 we segue into “The Sultan’s Toys” where we see the detached and child-like Sultan alight with joy as he plays with his amazing mechanical toys. Rózsa unfurls the Sultan’s Theme, which for me is a score highlight. He fully captures the Sultan’s spirit with music, which just sparkles, alight with glockenspiel, bells, high register woodwinds and prancing pizzicato strings. At 1:43 we segue into “Miniature Acrobats” where we are graced by the refulgent rendering of the Music Box Theme, which sparkles, alight with shimmering tubular bells, glockenspiel, triangle, celesta, piano and harp. The marriage of music and film imagery here is nothing short of brilliant! At 2:17 we sense Jaffar’s disdain as the Sultan’s Theme returns, with mockery atop bassoon and horns. At 3:02 we conclude grandly atop horn fare with “The Sultan’s Toys” as we see Jaffar’s slaves assemble a new toy he has brought for the Sultan – a mechanical flying horse. Rózsa supports the assembly with a fine rendering of the march like and horn laden Flying Horse Theme, which joins with the Sultan’s Theme as he mounts it. Comic woodwinds ascend as a key winds the device.
“The Flying Horse” is a score highlight, which offers testimony to Rózsa’s compositional gifts and scoring conception. We see the Sultan take flight atop his magnificent flying horse and soar with joy over his kingdom. Rózsa uses various instruments to support the movement of the mechanical device, its start-up, galloping, and amazing flight. You cannot help but sit back and smile as the interplay of the Flying Horse and Sultan Themes achieve a wondrous confluence. The following binary cue is multi-scenic. In “The Sultan’s Toys,” the Sultan has returned and demands that Jaffar gift him the horse. Jaffar consents, with one condition – that he be given the Princess’ hand in marriage. Rózsa supports the scene with interplay of the Sultan’s and Jaffar’s Theme, which are joined with a new, malignant offspring of Jaffar’s Theme, the Dark Magic Theme – a testament to his magical power. When the Princess overhears the conversation she flees and in the subsequent search by the palace guards Ahmad and Abu are captured in the garden. We segue at 2:02 into “The Curse” where we see Ahmad confront the usurper Jaffar. But Jaffar silences him with dark magic as he blinds him and then transforms Abu into a dog. Ahmad’s blinding is supported darkly by an eerie confluence of tremolo strings, harp glissandi, celesta and woodwind figures, while Abu’s transformation at 4:42 unfolds ingeniously atop a chromatic descent of woodwinds and strings.
“Awakening” is a splendid romantic piece where we see an end to Ahmad’s flash back. Jaffar’s servant brings him to the Princess as only a blind man can end her sleep. Jaffar gloats as she is returned to consciousness. To support the reunion of our lovers Rózsa creates a stirring joining of the Story-telling Theme, Ahmad’s Theme and the Princess Theme. In “The Princess Abducted” we bear witness to classic Rózsa melodrama. We see Jaffar take the Princess away to his ship. His malevolent theme carries their progress and spawns at 0:27 the malignant motif of his ship, born by horns sinistre. We build dramatically atop strings to an impassioned crescendo as she is placed on the ship. At 1:20 we see the canine Abu caught aboard the ship and thrown overboard. His theme supports his stowaway efforts with his descent into the water carried by harp glissandi.
“The Curse Is Lifted” is a complex cue with just exceptional scoring. We see Jaffar’s sinister efforts to seduce the Princess. When he states that Ahmad’s sight will be restored if she grants his wish for an embrace, she accedes and both Ahmad and Abu are instantly restored. Rózsa supports the scene with the Princess Theme and development of the Dark Magic Theme, which is joined following the transformation, with Ahmad’s Theme and a joyous Abu’s Theme. As we shift back at 2:21 to the ship we see Jaffar intent on voluntarily eliciting the Princess’ love for him and we bear witness to a tête-à-tête between Jaffar’s Theme, and a plaintive, minor modal rendering of her theme by solo violin. She will have none of it and tries to fling herself overboard, only to stop when she sees Ahmed and Abu trailing them in a small boat. A glorious declaration of Ahmad’s Theme informs us of her aspirations. At 4:30 a gong strike initiates a segue into “The Storm and Aftermath” where Jaffar conjures up a storm to end our hero’s pursuit. Rózsa whips his orchestra into frenzy, mimicking a tempest and propels the onslaught with Jaffar’s Theme the eye of the storm. A tranquil line of harp, piano and solo English horn carries the storm’s aftermath as we see Abu awake, their boat destroyed and no sign of Ahmad. We end tentatively atop Abu’s Theme with a Jaffar Theme coda.
In “The Princess Asks to Return” The Princess entreats Jaffar to return her to Basra. In an effort to secure her love, he consents. Rózsa supports the scene with interplay of Jaffar’s and the Ship’s Themes. At 0:51 we segue into “The Deserted Garden” where we see the forlorn Princess once more in her garden, longing for Ahmad. We are bathed in melancholia as a plaintive cello, strings and harp fill us with her heartache. “Ballad” offers Rózsa’s original song conception of the “The Deserted Garden” scene. Adlerlova’s vocals are exquisite, and I believe would have perfectly supported the scene. “The Silvermaid’s Dance” offers a testimony to Jaffar’s implacable evil, and Rózsa mastery of his craft. Jaffar presents his latest gift for the Sultan, a silver mechanical rendering of the multi-armed goddess Kali. Slowly, yet inexorably Jaffar’s magic animates Kali whose seductive dance seeks to lure the Sultan to her lethal embrace. At Jaffar’s urging the Sultan agrees to embrace Kali, who strikes him down viciously with a dagger. Rózsa brilliantly supports Kali’s animation and hypnotic movements, with an array of mechanical sounding instrumental effects. Slowly the mechanical is transformed into the seductive as Kali lures the Sultan to his death. When he finally realizes her embrace, celesta twinkles belie her sinister purpose. Her death strike is shattering and the diminuendo by English horn a tragic and sad farewell.
“The Djinn” reveals Abu finding a bottle on the beach, which he opens. To his amazement a Djinn (genie) emerges. He is angry and threatens to crush Abu under his foot, but the wily thief tricks him into returning to the bottle and reseals it. Rózsa uses strings and trilling woodwinds to support the genie’s crescendo release, and the powerful horn declared oriental Djinn Theme, his size. The interplay Rózsa fashions between the enormity of the Djinn Theme and the diminutive woodwind carried Abu’s Theme perfectly aligns with their size disparity on the screen. We close with a chromatic descent as the Genie is tricked into returning to his bottle. “The Djinn’s Song” was originally conceived for the previous cue. I believe the orchestral version used in the film to be more powerful and better aligns with the film imagery. The next quaternary cue is complex and multi-scenic. We open with “Abu Fools the Djinn” where Abu leverages the Genie’s freedom for three wishes. Rózsa again contrasts Abu’s Theme on bassoon and the Djinn’s Theme on upper register woodwinds and strings as Abu negotiates his terms for release. We segue at 1:01 into “Abu’s First Wish” where a famished Abu foolishly squanders his first wish for sausages. We segue at 2:09 into “Abu’s Demands” where Abu demands to know where his friend Ahmad is. This wish requires the Genie to take Abu to the Temple of the “All-Seeing Eye.” Once again delightful contrasting interplay of their themes carries the scene. We conclude at 3:09 with the glorious score highlight “The Flying Djinn” where we see the Genie flying over the top of the world before arriving at the Temple of Dawn. We are graced with a magnificent choral infused rendering of the Flying Theme, replete with woodwind arabesques, harp and celebratory horns, which soars aloft with shimmering splendor over the film’s amazing imagery.
In “The Skeleton Room” Abu begins his exploration of the temple’s interior. Rózsa sows palpable tension and foreboding auras of mystery with xylophone, harp, celesta, woodwind figures and muted horns. Juxtaposed to this are tentative phrases of Abu’s Theme, which echo within the temple’s massive interior walls. At 2:33 we segue into “The Spider,” an exercise in terror. Rózsa introduces a primal and menacing tritone Spider Motif, which opens with ominous repeating notes before coalescing into something more diabolical. What unfolds as they battle is a dramatic accelerando of terror, which culminates with a crescendo followed by a chromatic descent as the spider falls to its death. The following tertiary cue unfolds as Abu completes his quest. In “Theft of the Eye” we see Abu climbing the face of the Goddess statue so as to reach the eye in her brow. His light-hearted but ever determined theme carries his upward progress. At 2:05 we segue into “Abu Uses the Eye” where we see Abu remove the All-Seeing Eye, and gaze into its crystalline interior. Rózsa supports this with a mystical twinkling splendor, which fully captures the other-worldliness of the eye. As Abu gazes into the eye and sees Ahmad negotiating a cliff face and we bear witness to an impassioned variant of Ahmad’s Theme, which informs us of Abu’s devotion to his friend. Now that his location has been found, Abu uses his second wish by commanding the Genie to take him to Ahmad. At 3:09 we conclude with “The Djinn Takes Abu to Ahmad,” where we see the Genie again soar across the firmament. We open with the Djinn Theme as Abu’s second wish brings him closer to freedom. Their flight is supported grandly with a wondrous reprise of the Flying Theme. Once they arrive there is palpable tension in Djinn’s Theme as he can almost taste his freedom, which is interspersed with phrases of Jaffar’s Theme portending danger.
In “Seduction and the Djinn Is Freed” Ahmad gazes into the eye and beholds the Princess preparing to smell the fabled blue rose, whose fragrance when inhaled causes forgetfulness. Rózsa supports the scene with lyrical phrases of both Ahmad’s and the Princess’ Themes, which contest but ultimately succumb to the might of Jaffar’s Theme and Dark Magic Theme after she inhales the rose’s fragrance. Ahmad cries out aloud that he wishes he were in Bagdad. Without thinking Abu restates Ahmad’s desire, thus using his final wish as we see the Genie transport Ahmad back to the palace. A celebratory rendering of the Flight Theme informs us of his joy as he gains his freedom. Now back in the palace in “Palace Fight,” Ahmad cries out to the Princess, who awakes, once again recognizing him. Jaffar is furious and orders his men to arrest Ahmad. A militarized variant of Ahmad’s Theme carries him in a fierce battle against all odds. Rózsa whips his orchestra into frenzy as Ahmad fights valiantly, but eventually succumbs. Horn declarations of Jaffar’s Theme resound with Ahmad’s capture. At 1:36 we segue into “Ahmad and the Princess, Captive” as we see our two lovers imprisoned. Jaffar’s Dark Magic Theme supports their imprisonment, but yields to plaintive statements of their two themes, which take solace in their reunion. We conclude at 2:42 with “Ruby Montage” where we see a frustrated Abu observing their imprisonment in the eye. An impassioned rendering of his theme informs us of his frustration as he smashes the eye (2:54), which results in a cataclysmic transformation, which transports his downwards off the cliff to the desert floor below. Rózsa supports his journey with a twinkling mysterioso. A milieu born of vibraphone, ethereal female voices and high register strings inform us that he has been transported to a sacred realm.
In “The Golden Tent” Abu enters a golden tent where he is greeted by a sage, who foretells that Abu shall soon be king of the Land of Legend “where everything is possible when seen through the eyes of a boy.” He awards Abu with a magical golden crossbow and arrow, which will serve as an emblem of his kingship. Rózsa creates a beautiful otherworldly ambiance with a joining of ethereal female chorus, vibraphone, celesta, harp, woodwinds and string sustains, which interplay with a now mature rendering of Abu’s Theme – a transformation of a boy thief to King. We now come to a complex quaternary, multi-scenic cue. We open with “The Flying Carpet” where Abu steals the sage’s magic flying carpet, determined to rescue Ahmad. Woodwinds, xylophone, swirling strings and twinkling percussion animate the flying carpet while his triumphant theme carries his theft and escape. At 0:27 we segue into “Ahmad to Be Beheaded” as Jaffar’s Theme portends Ahmad’s doom as we see his head being placed upon the block. At 1:26 we segue into “Arrow of Justice” as we see Abu flying in to the rescue. The now glorious and rousing Magic Carpet Theme carries his progress. At 2:13 we segue into “Riot and the End of Jaffar” as Rózsa reprises his fight music from “Palace Fight”. The music is ferocious, achieving a dramatic crescendo as the palace riot unfolds. As Jaffar tries to escape atop the Mechanical flying horse his malevolent theme carries his progress, yet it is for naught as Abu’s golden arrow finds its mark and strikes him down with a last utterance of his theme and an orchestral descent as he falls to his death. In “Finale” a Grateful Ahmad announces that he intends to send Abu to the best school in Bagdad so he may assume the post of his Grand Vizier. Regal heraldic horn declarations of Ahmad’s Theme ushers in the scene, which is crowned with a wondrous string laden rendering of his theme. Abu however will have none of it, and flies off, intent on finding a new adventure! His now choral supported grandiose theme carries him away as we conclude with a flourish. At 1:40 we segue into “End Cast” where a festive rendering of Abu’s Theme supports the roll of the end credits.
The album includes a number of wonderful bonus tracks for which I will explore five. The first is “Seaman’s Song (instrumental),” which provides an alternative instrumental rendering of the song with wordless choral support. I actually found this version more persuasive and evocative. “The Market (orchestral version)” is I also believe superior, as we are not distracted by the dialogue and vocals. Two longer alternative versions of the “The Flying Horse” are provided, both of which are animated by a rhythmic snare drum ostinato. “The Temple* / Ruby Montage (part 2)” was evidently attached to cut scenes in the temple and features some splendid shimmering percussive effects, which create an other-worldly ambiance as well as some fine dramatic writing. Lastly, we close with an album gem and perhaps my favorite cue, “The Love of the Princess for Violin and Orchestra”. This new arrangement was specifically written to grace us with an extended rendering of Rózsa sublime Love Theme, and showcase Lucie Svehlova’s exquisite solo violin.
Please allow me to thank James Fitzpatrick for yet another extraordinary career triumph. For 76 years Rózsa’s “The Thief of Bagdad” has been one of the long sought Holy Grails of film scores. This album features the complete score, which includes over 70 minutes of previously unrecorded music, an additional 30 minutes of bonus material as well as a new premier recording of “The Love of the Princess” for Violin and Orchestra performed by Lucie Svehlova. The recording under the skillful baton of Nic Raine and City of Prague Symphony Philharmonic Orchestra and Chorus, with the Mid Hertfordshire Youth Choir, is pristine, offering dynamic 24-Bit 96kHz digital sound. I cannot overstate how thankful I am for this “Gift from the Gods.” This early career triumph by Rózsa offers a rich, exotic, and creative score with a multiplicity of fine themes, which join in inspired interplay. The romantic confluence of Ahmad’s and the Princess Themes are legend and a testament to Rózsa’s genius. In each scene his music achieved a perfect marriage with character, creature, setting and film narrative, indeed I believe Rózsa score transcended Korda’s vision and elevated his film. I believe this to be an exceptional album, and an essential addition for all lovers of film score art. I highly recommend you purchase this album.
For those of you unfamiliar with the score, I have embedded a YouTube link to “For Love of a Princess,” a Rózsa masterpiece, which earns him immortality. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IL2zRL9Mw8M
Buy the Thief of Bagdad soundtrack from the Movie Music UK Store
- Main Titles/Seaman’s Song (4:12)
- Bagdad Harbour (2:38)
- Jaffar and the Doctor (1:11)
- The Thief’s Song (1:00)
- Ahmad Telling His Story/Thief Sequence (3:51)
- The Market (8:43)
- Witnessing an Execution (0:58)
- Jaffar’s Advice/Bagdad Night (4:10)
- Ahmad and Abu Imprisoned/Abu Steals the Key/Ahmad and Abu Escape (3:08)
- I Want to Be a Sailor/River Scenes (4:02)
- The Market of Basra (2:54)
- Horsemen’s Fanfare (2:05)
- Procession (2:00)
- Love Song (1:37)
- Love Scene/I Must See Her Again (5:17)
- Waltz Song (1:45)
- The Sultan’s Toys Part 1/Miniature Acrobats/Introduction of the Flying Horse/The Sultan’s Toys Part 2 (4:38)
- The Flying Horse (1:22)
- The Sultan’s Toys Part 3/The Curse (5:22)
- Awakening (2:49)
- The Princess Abducted (2:13)
- The Curse Is Lifted/The Storm and Aftermath (8:29)
- The Princess Asks to Return/The Deserted Garden (1:47)
- Ballad (1:34)
- The Silvermaid’s Dance (3:30)
- The Djinn (3:11)
- The Djinn’s Song (0:55)
- Abu Fools the Djinn/Abu’s First Wish/Abu’s Demands/The Flying Djinn (5:21)
- The Skeleton Room/The Spider (6:08)
- Theft of the Eye/Abu Uses the Eye/The Djinn Takes Abu to Ahmad (5:24)
- Seduction and the Djinn Is Freed (4:48)
- Palace Fight/Ahmad and the Princess, Captive/Ruby Montage Part 1 (4:12)
- The Golden Tent (3:05)
- The Flying Carpet/Ahmad to Be Beheaded/Arrow of Justice/Riot and the End of Jaffar (3:45)
- Finale and End Cast (2:11)
- Seaman’s Song (Instrumental) (2:51) – BONUS
- The Thief’s Song (Instrumental) (1:00) – BONUS
- The Market (Orchestral Version) (8:37) – BONUS
- Ahmad and Abu Imprisoned (Alternative Version)/The Princess Escapes (1:37) – BONUS
- I Want to Be a Sailor (Instrumental) (2:02) – BONUS
- The Deserted Garden (Alternative Version) (0:53) – BONUS
- Love Song (Instrumental) (1:37) – BONUS
- Waltz Song (Instrumental) (1:45) – BONUS
- The Flying Horse (Alternative Version 1) (1:55) – BONUS
- The Flying Horse (Alternative Version 2) (1:42) – BONUS
- The Temple/Ruby Montage Part 2 (2:34) – BONUS
- Ballad (Instrumental) (1:31) – BONUS
- The Djinn’s Song (Instrumental) (0:55) – BONUS
- The Love of the Princess for Violin and Orchestra (4:48) – BONUS
Running Time: 154 minutes 22 seconds
Prometheus Records/Tadlow Music XPCD-179 (1940/2016)
Music composed by Miklós Rózsa. Conducted by Nic Raine. Performed by City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra with the Mid-Hertfordshire Youth Choir. Original orchestrations by Eugene Zador. Recorded and mixed by Jan Holzner. Score produced by Miklós Rózsa and Muir Matheson. Album produced by James Fitzpatrick.