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HOW THE WEST WAS WON – Alfred Newman

October 16, 2017 Leave a comment Go to comments

100 GREATEST SCORES OF ALL TIME

Original Review by Craig Lysy

MGM Studios, in an effort to regain its former glory, embarked on a sweeping multi-generational tale, an epic story so grand in its storytelling that three directors would be needed to shoot its five vignettes. The film drew inspiration from a Life magazine photo essay titled “How the West Was Won”. Producer Bernard Smith hired James R. Webb to write a screenplay with a massive canvass and Henry Hathaway was tasked with directing three of the vignettes; The Rivers (1839), The Plains (1851) and The Outlaws (1889). John Ford would direct The Civil War (1861–1865) segment, and George Marshall would direct The Railroad (1868). A massive stellar cast was hired, which many consider to be the greatest assembly of stars ever hired for a single project; Carroll Baker as Eve Prescott, Agnes Moorhead as Rebecca Prescott, Karl Malden as Zebulon Prescott, Debbie Reynolds as Lilith Prescott, Lee Cobb as Lou Ramsey, Henry Fonda as Jethro Stewart, Carolyn Jones as Julie Rawlings, Gregory Peck as Cleve Van Valen, George Peppard as Zeb Rawlings, Robert Preston as Roger Morgan, John Wayne as General William Tecumseh Sherman, Richard Widmark as Mike King, Walter Brennan as Colonel Jeb Hawkins, Raymond Massey as President Abraham Lincoln, and Harry Morgan as General Ulysses S. Grant.

The story has a grand, multi-generation tale, which traces the fortunes of the Prescott family from 1839 – 1889 as they moved ever westward from their roots in New York. The film was an unabashed celebration of Americana, fully channeling the doctrine of “Manifest Destiny”, which during the 19th century fueled western migration, asserting that the United States was destined by God to stretch across the continent from Atlantic to Pacific Oceans. The film resonated with the American public and was a huge commercial success. It also achieved critical acclaim, securing eight Academy Award nominations, winning three including; Best Screenplay, Best Sound and Best Film Editing.

Smith initially approached Dimitri Tiomkin for the assignment given his sterling record with the genre, however he was unavailable due to eye surgery. As such Alfred Newman was given the reigns and he quickly realized that he would need assistance scoring such a massive canvass. He brought in long time friend and collaborator Ken Darby, a fellow composer, choral master, arranger and lyricist as traditional folk songs would need to be infused into the soundscape to provide an authentic Americana identity. Classic songs such as “A Home in the Meadow”, “Nine Hundred Miles From Home”, “Banks of the Sacramento”, “When Johnny Come Marching Home”, “I’m Bound For The Promised Land”, and “The Battle Hymn Of The Republic” brought forth the defining Americana spirit, which animated the film. Also because the film was to be shot in Cinerama, which provided expansive panoramic views, inspired music that spoke to these majestic sweeping vistas would need to be written.

Newman chose thematic identities, as was his normal practice to underpin the characters and various settings of the film. The Main Theme offers a theme for the ages, one that takes its place as one of the finest and most enduring in the cinematic experience. Newman wrote it in classic ABA form with its A Phrase resounding as a forthright Americana construct, abounding in pride, boldness and confidence, which captures the film’s emotional core. Born by declarative horns bravura this major modal statement fully captures the irrepressible spirit of our heroes and America’s quest to achieve its “Manifest Destiny”. Its string carried B Phrase sheds the bravado for a more lyrical articulation, whose aspiration speaks to hope for a new life, which propels these pioneers westward. Lastly, the theme serves as the personal identity of Linus Rawlings, but on the transpersonal level underpins the westward movement of his descendants. For Lilith Prescott, Newman interpolated the song “Greensleeves”, a traditional English song whose lyrics speak of unrequited love. While he retained the song’s florid melody, he had Sammy Cahn rewrite its lyrics to refashion it as a distinctly American song known as “A Home In The Meadow”. This theme serves as her identity, and while there is sadness in the notes, there is hopefulness in the lyrics, which speak to Lilith’s indomitable nature.

The Pirates Theme serves as the identity of the scoundrel Colonel Jeb Hawkins, his daughter and band of thugs, who prey upon and brutally murder pioneers making their way up river. Newman supports their pirating with a march where within its rhythms the comedic is joined with the grotesque. It is both disarming and lethal, perfectly reflecting this band of thugs who first disarm you with their folksiness only to murder you when you let down your guard. Cleve’s Theme serves as the identity of our hustler, Cleve Van Valen. It is cocky, and jaunty in its articulation, which perfectly captures his charm and hustling ways. On The Banks of the Sacramental Theme channels the unbridled confidence and optimism of the classic folk song melody. It speaks of the allure of gold, which drew thousands to seek their fortune in California. The folk song “Shenandoah” is used thematically to support the Prescott’s migration westward. Written as a tale of a white frontiersman’s longing for his Indian princess, it has a wistfulness, gentility and lyrical beauty rarely achieved. Zeb’s Theme serves as his identity, a proud construct born by horns nobile. He is a decent man, a moral man and this proud major modal melody tells us all we need to know of him. The thirsting and gentle Come Share My Life Theme is drawn from the classic folk song and speaks to Roger Morgan’s unrequited love for Lilith, who twice rejects his heartfelt proposals of marriage. Emoted on accordion with guitar, it blossoms when born by strings. Lastly, we have the No Good Bye Theme, which as its name states speaks of the enduring bond that is forged between people. With Jethro and Zeb it speaks of friendship, while with Zeb and his wife Julie, it expresses love. Flute tenero and warm strings weave an achingly beautiful statement.

“Overture” offers a rousing score highlight, a mixed chorus set piece created to play before the film, which perfectly captures the its emotional core. It features a grand opening statement of the Main Theme, which is joined by two original songs written by Newman and Darby, as well as some traditional folk songs. The first is the rousing and forthright “I Am Bound For The Promised Land”, which infuses Manifest Destiny with biblical references, a clear acknowledgment that God sanctions their pioneering efforts. At 1:21 we segue into the stirring traditional folk song “Shenandoah”, a wistful song whose evocative and heartfelt lyrics nurture a kernel of hope, that love lost will be regained. At 2:14 we segue into “Endless Prairie”, a song, which speaks to us of the weariness of the trek across the seemingly endless windswept monotony of the prairie. At 3:38 we flow atop folksy banjos into the spirited “The Ox Driver’s Song,” sung by Dave Guard and the Whiskeyhill Singers. We close proudly with a rousing reprise of “I Am Bound For The Promised Land”, which concludes with a choral flourish.

Act I: The Rivers (1839)

“Main Title” is a magnificent score highlight, which offers one of the grandest film openings in cinematic history. We open the roar of MGM’s Leo the lion and the roll of the opening credits against a painting of a stagecoach, buffalo and Indians. Newman showcases his Main Theme, which he renders fully in a rousing AABA statement. A stirring bridge carries us into a snare drum propelled orchestral expression of the religioso theme “I Am Bound For The Promised Land”. We conclude as we began with a bold statement of the A Phrase of the Main Theme. Newman perfectly sets the film’s tone and prepares us for a great adventure! In “This Is The West” Newman supports Spencer Tracy’s opening narration with a sparkling pastorale as we pass over cloud swept mountain vistas. A muted Main Theme supports Linus Rawlings on horseback with a bounty of beaver pelts. As he passes through an Indian camp nativist drums support the sale of his horse for a canoe, in which he will transport his pelts. A lyrical Main Theme on strings supports his river passage. As we change scenes to a debarkation town on the Erie Canal, an orchestral rendering of the folk song “Erie Canal” introduces us to the Prescott family who prepare to board the ferry. “The Erie Canal” features the folk song, which is sung and supports the Prescott family’s journey on a ferry.

“Two Hearts On A Tree” reveals the Prescott family encamped as Zebulon builds a raft to carry them westward. The Main Theme is rendered by strings tenero as we see the two daughters speak of their dreams. Eve desires a quiet life with husband and family on a farm, while Lilith longs for a life of luxury and glamour in the city. In “Shenandoah” fanfare supports the launch of the family raft, which is carried down the river by a warm rendering of the Shenandoah Theme. We flow into “First Meeting” where the family has camped and meets a stranger, frontiersman Linus Rawlings. Strings animato carry his arrival, which unsettles he family, as they are wary of strangers. The Main Theme is rendered with suspicion, which warms and becomes tender as the Prescott’s accept Linus, and Eve savors his beaver pelt gift. As the Prescott’s retire in “First Kiss”, we see Eve and Linus sharing an intimate moment together. They kiss and Eve is smitten, despite Linus’ warning that he is not the kind of man to settle down. Newman supports the tender moment perfectly with an intimate rendering of Linus’ Theme on accordion and guitar. She is very forward and he does his best to deflect her advances. “The Morning After” reveals a distraught Eve as she discovers that true to his word, Linus has departed. Newman supports her disappointment with a sad variant of his theme.

“The River Pirates” offers an extended multi-scenic cue. We open with Linus’ Theme on accordion, which transitions to a warm rendering on lush strings as he canoes up river. The B Phrase on harmonica carries his approach to the Hawking’s dock and we conclude with a stirring string laden reprise of the A Phrase. Dark, low register strings sinistri usher in an extended rendering of the Pirate’s Theme as the gang prepares for their ambush. A seductive Dora lures Linus into a cave not for love, but to instead bushwhack him. Strings sinistri inform us of her dark purpose and we build to crescendo of pain, which resounds grimly at 4:57 as she stabs him in the shoulder and leaves him for dead. She returns and joins her father and his men to steal Linus’ belongings. As Linus struggles to the shore, strings of torment buttressed with horn fare carry the pirates away with his pelts. As the Prescott raft approaches the dire muted horns of the Pirate Theme returns. At 7:04 drums of suspense launch a martial rendering of Linus’ Theme as he returns and starts a fight to save the Prescotts. As they gain the upper hand, a heroic statement of his theme carries them to victory.

In “Godspeed Eve” Linus and a thankful Eve are reunited. We see in her eyes that she loves him and Newman supports the moment tenderly with a warm, romantic rendering of Linus’ Theme, joined with interplay of the Shenandoah Theme. They part ways again and at 1:16 we flow into “The Rapids” as we see the Prescott raft take the wrong fork in the river, which dooms them to the rapids. Newman sows a slow building crescendo of tension as we see the pace of the river’s flow increasing. Soon the rapids are seen, with only one path available – through them. Zebulon however is unable to control the raft, which crashes into the rocks and breaks apart, leaving Eve, Lilith and their young brother as the only survivors. “The Burial” is an exquisite cue where powerful emotions intersect. We feel the pathos of loss as Eve and Lilith bury their parents. Newman supports their grief with a dirge, somber and full of heartache and loss. Fellow pioneers bring comfort by joining in a singing of the tradition hymn “Rock Of Ages” as Eve and Lilith say goodbye. As Linus comes to Eve we see in his eyes that he will remain to forge a life together with her, building a homestead on the site where all was lost. Newman bathes us in a heartfelt and supremely moving rendering of the Linus’ Theme as they unite in love. Lilith has no intention of giving up her dreams and departs to join a wagon train going west. Her lush theme carries her departure. It is bittersweet, as the sisters know this will be the last time they will ever see each other again.

Act II: The Prairie (1851)

“Wagon Train Forward” supports a multi-scenic cue, which opens with a determined Lilith joining the pioneers over the objections of Wagon Master Roger Morgan. A deconstructed Main Theme supports the confrontation. At 0:19 we segue into festive Mexican auras, which support the march of troops in the 1846 war with Mexico. An American victory added an enormous swath of new territory to the United States, which included California. At 0:36 we segue into folksy Americana as fiddle and chorus sing “Wait For The Hoedown” as we see a prospector discover gold, which ignites the California gold rush of 1849. At 1:19 we scene change to a cabaret in St. Louis where Lily (Lilith) is performing with the song melody sustaining her act. After her act Lily receives news that an old acquaintance had bequeathed her title to a gold mine in California. Cleve overhears this and plots to secure the deed. The next two cues were excised from the film. “Sit Down Sister” offers a delightful little ditty that is playful with a carefree dance like flow, intended to support another Lily number. While “Wanderin’” offers a folk song sung by David Guard with guitar accompaniment.

In “The Jump Off Point” Lily tries alone to join a wagon train to California but is refused by Wagon Master Roger Morgan. She then seeks to join the wagon of Agatha Clegg, but is again rebuffed. Newman supports the scene with the On The Banks of the Sacramental Theme, their intended destination. As she prepares to find another solution we flow into “Cleve Van Valen” where Lily meets the hustler Van Valen who pursues her, having designs on her inherited a gold mine. His jaunty theme animates the encounter as he fails to make an impression and is rebuffed. Miss Clegg has a change of heart and let’s Lily join her wagon, believing her good looks will bring forth many men, perhaps one she can snag! In a scene change at 1:53 a martial rendering of the Main Theme, replete with trumpet calls resounds as the wagon train rolls across the prairie. At 2:44 the music swells ominously and darkens as we see storm clouds on the horizon. At 3:06 we segue into the first campsite and an accordion and guitar create a folksy ambiance. At 3:21 Newman provides an enjoyable extended rendering of Cleve’s Theme as we see Cleve comically riding into camp atop a burro, determined to join Lily on the wagon train. His jaunty tune comically carries his progress, and its transfer to warm strings informs us that Lily is warming to him, convinced that she needs a man in her life, even if he is not the best.

It is nightfall and “Poor Wayfaring’ Stranger” offers a traditional folk song sung by David Guard with guitar accompaniment It was intended to support Cleve’s failed amorous advance to Lily. In “Raise A Ruckus Tonight” Agatha complains of how down and out everyone in camp seems to feel. Lily takes the cue and we see her perform as she seeks to lift everyone’s spirits. She sings “Raise A Ruckus Tonight”, an upbeat adapted folk song, which showcases her vocals. A small ensemble of banjo, guitar and harmonica carry this festive piece, which is supported by the Whiskeyhill Quartet and Ken Darby Singers. Reynolds just shines as we see the people come out of their sullen stupor and begin dancing. “Come Share My Life,” reveals the futility of Roger Morgan’s proposal of marriage to Lily, as she is smitten by Cleve and wants nothing to do with him. “Come Share My Life,” is rendered warmly and with heart from Roger’s perspective by Carl Fortina’s virtuoso accordion play. “Cheyennes” offers an astounding score highlight, and its best action piece. Dire horn declarations and drums of war raise the alarm as an Indian horde assembles to attack. The pioneers decide to flee
rather than stand and fight, and at 1:07 woodwinds of doom portend danger as Newman stokes a slowly building tension. At 1:58 all hell breaks loose as the attack commences and orchestral fury is unleashed with deafening percussion, and horn fare. A militarized Main Theme empowered by snare drums and horns bellicoso support the pioneers as they desperately flee. Their theme gains dominance as we see the Indians give up the pursuit, content with acquiring the many horses and cattle left behind.

In the banjo carried “Careless Love” Judy Henske, supported by the Whiskyhill Singers sings the song as Cleve and Lily arrive in Sacramento and seek transport to her gold mine. “Gold Claim” sadly reveals that Lily’s gold mine deed is a barren bust. A solo harmonic emotes a plaintive rendering of Lily’s Theme as she and Cleve contemplate and uncertain future. They resolve to take life square on by doing what they do best, he gambling and she singing. “What Was Your Name In The States?” again showcases Reynolds fine vocal. We see Lily on stage entertaining a drunk and raucous saloon crowd with a rowdy and provocative stage performance. In “He’s Gone Away,” we open with the Careless Love melody emoted as a confident and free flowing dance. The scene to which it was attached was excised from the film. At 1:24 we shift to Lily’s tent and the “Carless Love” theme is emoted romantically by accordion and supportive strings. The scene is tragic as Lily rejects Roger’s proposal one last time, relating that even though Cleve abandoned her after the gold mine bust, that she still loved him.

We shift to a Sacramento River boat where we see Cleve playing cards. “A Home In The Meadow” again showcases Reynold’s vocal in a score highlight as she sings ” A Home in the Meadow,” an adaptation of the tradition English ballad “Greensleeves” which was reworked with alternative lyrics by Sammy Cahn. In “Marriage Proposal,” Cleve abandons the card game when he hears Lily’s singing. He comes to her with a purpose that she has never seen before. Before she can reject him, he stuns her with a marriage proposal. Her theme supports the scene, and it is instructive how Newman utilizes its melody to flesh out their emotions. We begin with a tentative, yet tender rendering, which slowly and inexorably builds in love, culminating in a glorious declaration that ends in a flourish as the screen displays Intermission. “Entr’acte” opens with the Main Theme, which launches a wonderful parade of Americana folk songs, including two from Act III; “A Home In The Meadow”, “Nine Hundred Miles From Home”, “Banks Of The Sacramento”, “When Johnny Come Marching Home”, “I’m Bound For The Promised Land”, and “The Battle Hymn Of The Republic”.

Act III: The Civil War (1861-1865)

In “Mr. Lincoln” it is 1858 and narration reveals Lincoln in a letter advocating that all western states admitted to the union be slave free. Newman supports the scene with strings solenne from which are born on muted horns the rising tide of war. In “He’s Linus’ Boy” many years have come and gone, and we see that Linus and Eve have two sons, Zeb and Jeremiah. The Civil War rages, Zeb has come of age, and wants to join his father fighting for the Union. Eve tries to dissuade him, yet relents, accepting that Zeb is now a man who must find his destiny. Newman supports the parting with a plaintive and very moving rendering of the Main Theme, which culminates with the muted trumpets and drums of “When Johnny Comes Marching Home.” Powerful and conflicted emotions are in play and Newman perfectly supports the film’s narrative. “I’m Sad And I’m Lonely” is a lovely, intimate piece, which was excised from the film. It was intended to support Eve visiting the grave of her father seeking to reconcile Zeb’s departure. A sad harmonica and guitar speak to her sadness, and realization that she may never see her son again. In a scene change to Shiloh we see a doctor declare Captain Linus Rawlings dead. Zeb gets his first taste of death when he bayonets a rebel that was going to assassinate General Grant. A creative decision was made to not score the battle scenes. Instead the score returns in “When Johnny Comes Marching Home”, which provides an inspired choral rendering of the famous war song as we see a riverboat bringing Zeb home. “Zeb’s Return” offers one of the score’s finest moments. Zeb returns from the war to find that his mother has died of heartbreak following the news of Linus’ death at the battle of Shiloh. Jeremiah asks him to stay home and help him manage the farm, but Zeb, having seen the world declines, intent on seeking his fortune. There is great pathos to this scene born from death, and as Zeb departs, more sadness as Jeremiah stands alone to carry on Eve and Linus’ dream. Newman supports the scene beautifully with an evocative, elegiac rendering of the Main Theme, which culminates with a rousing flourish!

Act IV The Railroad (1868)

We open with “The Pony Express” as a snare drum ostinato propels these riders who rode with the wind connecting St. Louis and Sacramento. But their days would soon be at an end, replaced by the telegraph. The narration continues speaking of the building of the great transcontinental railroad with the Central Pacific Company laying track from the east, and the Union Pacific Company from the west. As we see beautiful vistas of the American west, Newman supports the imagery with a heartfelt rendering of the Main Theme. Ruthless and unscrupulous railroad baron Mike King has hired frontiersman Jethro Stuart to feed his workers by hunting buffalo, and Zeb Rawlings to protect his workers from Indian attacks. The next two cues were intended to support the culture of the railroad building, but were excised from the film. “A Railroader’s Bride I’ll Be” offers a traditional folk song sung a cappella by women, while “Workin’” offers a song for men’s chorus sung a cappella. In “The Jugglers,” Jethro a friend of Linus comes by chance to meet Zeb and an instant bond is formed. The setting is a saloon and Newman supports the ambiance with a festive piece, as we see the jugglers performing in the background. “No Goodbye” was intended to support the scene where Jethro and Zeb share a drink and reminisce, but it was excised. The No Goodbye Theme speaks to Jethro’s immediate bond with Zeb, and emotes as an intimate piece carried by accordion and guitar.

In “Zeb And Jethro”, we see Jethro and Zeb attempting to negotiate a new treaty with the Arapaho as King had violated the old treaty by laying track on their land. We open with a solo English horn soliloquy countered by muted nativist drums, which support the negotiation. The melodic line is taken up by kindred woodwinds for a beautiful statement. At 0:49 horns bravura emote the proud confidence of Zeb’s Theme as he and Jethro return to the railroad camp. Jethro informs Zeb that he is returning to the solitude of the mountains, as he believes war with the Indians is inevitable. The manner in which Newman transfers the articulation of his theme among the instruments of the orchestra is wondrous. As we see the train being loaded, Newman makes the odd choice to support the scene by interpolating the Duke Ellington song “It Don’t Mean A Thing If It Ain’t Got That Swing”. Its articulation is upbeat with the loading, but becomes ominous in a scene change where we see settlers disembarking, brought by the promise of free land.

“Buffalo Stampede” provides the score’s second action piece, a score highlight. It opens with horns bravura declarations of Zeb’s Theme as he rides to camp to warn of an Indian attack. Newman unleashes a tour de force, a kinetic powerhouse propelled by snare drums, which underpin a frightful ostinato with horns of doom. We bear witness to the Indians driving a buffalo stampede, which decimates the railroad worker camp and kills many. The marriage of film imagery and music is superb. “Climb A Higher Hill” is also a score highlight, a powerfully evocative piece where Newman elevates the film. Zeb is devastated by his failure to protect the workers, and repulsed by King’s duplicity and inhumanity. King has blood on his hands as his greed led to the blatant treaty violation, which caused the reprisal stampede. Zeb abandons his job, determined to secure a better life and a more noble purpose. We open grimly on strings afflitti, which emote a threnody for the dead. Dark and ominous horns resound as we see King riding atop his railroad locomotive with a deadly resolve. As Jeb rides off into the mountains, a noble rendering of his theme carries his progress. We see his struggle as he by chance once more crosses paths with Jethro at his mountain cabin. At 2:40 Newman reprises his No Goodbye Theme on accordion and guitar, which speaks to the bond between the two men. When strings take up the melodic line it blossoms and joins with his theme in sumptuous interplay. We see in Jeb’s eyes that he has regained his purpose, and as he bids farewell to Jethro, Newman supports his departure with a proud crescendo and grand flourish of his theme.

Act V: The Outlaws (1889)

The film’s final act opens in San Francisco with “The Van Valen Auction” where we see the recently widowed Lilly auctioning all their remaining assets to pay off Cleve’s gambling debts. She remains indomitable and resolves to begin the final chapter in her life by moving to her ranch in Arizona, hoping that her nephew Zeb and his family will join her and manage it. This cue offers a score highlight of uncommon beauty. We open with a beleaguered statement of the Main Theme, which supports the scenes of frontier townsfolk fighting off criminals and imposing law and order in their new towns. As they prevail, the theme regains it pride and we segue tenderly into Lily’s Theme for an extended statement of renewal, which gains confidence during the auction and carries us with its melodic beauty like a leaf atop a flowing stream. At 3:12 we scene change to Zeb, Julie and their kids in a wagon riding into Gold City to greet Aunt Lilith’s arrival. Newman supports their progress with a beautiful pastorale, which culminates warmly on his theme.

In “Gant” the Zeb now a US Marshall, crosses paths with a former enemy, and outlaw Charlie Gant. Gant seeks revenge for Zeb’s killing of his brother and makes a veiled threat against Julie and the kids. Zeb sets a trap, knowing Gant will seek to rob the scheduled train gold shipment. Newman scores the scene darkly with low register strings sinistri and ominous horns speaking to Gant’s vile nature and menace. Zeb’s resolve to protect his family and end Gant’s threat once and for all is carried with a forthright declaration of his theme on horns. “No Goodbye” offers a supreme score highlight where Newman graces us with an evocative rendering of his No Good Bye Theme. Julie is distraught as Zeb informs her of his intent to bring Gant to justice. He is determined to protect her and their family, and she fears losing him. Newman sheds the theme’s of its folksy rendering by accordion and guitar, instead articulating it more sumptuously as a love theme carried by solo flute tenero and strings romantico – just heart achingly beautiful! A creative decision was made to not score the train robbery where Zeb and his fellow Marshalls kill Gant and his gang in a stunning action scene, which ends in a shattering train wreck.

In “Celebration” Zeb is transporting his family and Aunt Lilith to her ranch, to live, prosper and begin a new chapter of their lives. This cue offers Newman’s original conception to support the scene; a full celebratory rendering of the Main Theme in ABA form, with grand statements of it’s A Phrases and a folksy rendering of its B Phrase. What made it to the film however was an alternative that is heard in “Finale” a choral reprise of the song “A Home In The Meadow”, which provided a less bravado and folksier closing of our story. In “Finale Ultimo” we have an epilogue in which Spencer Tracy narrates the bounty that has become the west, thanks to the pioneering spirit. A warm rendering of the Main Theme supports the imagery of the Hoover Dam and thriving cities. The theme blossoms into a grand choral rendering of “How The West Was Won”, which culminates in a flourish for one of the most inspiring cinematic endings! We conclude with a celebration of Americana in “Exit Music” where we celebrate a parade of the film’s notable folk songs; “I’m Bound For The Promised Land”, “Banks Of The Sacramento”, and “A Home In The Meadow”, which ends gloriously in a flourish!

I offer my praise to Didier C. Deutsch and Rhino Movie Music more this magnificent restoration of Alfred Newman’s masterpiece, “How The West Was Won”. The remastering has produced excellent sound quality and the inclusion of many alternative and never released cues, is just wonderful. This film was perhaps the most audacious example of unabashed and forthright Americana ever undertaken by a studio. It offered a grand, multi-generation tale, which traced the fortunes of the Prescott family from 1839 – 1889 as they moved ever westward from their roots in New York. Alfred Newman was tasked with speaking to five separate stories, countless characters, and in providing musical continuity, which needed to hold the film together. I believe he succeeded on all counts, providing one of the finest and iconic Main Themes ever written, a rousing and unabashed celebration of the indomitable American Spirit. For this mammoth undertaking he infused his soundscape with accordion, guitar and harmonica, and provided a multiplicity of wonderful themes and folk songs, which brought authenticity, and instilled the film with the necessary Americana auras. In every way this score fully enhanced the story telling and matched the panoramic cinematic beauty portrayed in the grand vistas of the American west. I believe this late opus score to be one of the finest in Newman’s canon, and a masterpiece of the Silver Age. I highly recommend you purchase this recording, which I consider essential for lovers of film score art.

For those of you unfamiliar with the score, I have embedded a Youtube link to a magnificent suite drawn from this astounding recording: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rm06oZmzQzQ

Buy the How the West Was Won soundtrack from the Movie Music UK Store

Track Listing:

  • Overture (5:49)
  • Main Title (3:07)
  • This Is The West (3:18)
  • The Erie Canal (:32)
  • Two Hearts On A Tree (2:02)
  • Shenandoah (0:29)
  • First Meeting (2:23)
  • First Kiss (2:26)
  • The Morning After (0:23)
  • The River Pirates (9:15)
  • Godspeed Eve (2:24)
  • The Burial (4:40)
  • Wagon Train Forward (2:00)
  • Sit Down Sister (1:35)
  • Wanderin’ (1:38)
  • The Jump Off Point (0:22)
  • Cleve Van Halen (5:16)
  • Poor Wayfaring’ Stranger (2:03)
  • Raise A Ruckus Tonight (1:44)
  • Come Share My Life (2:16)
  • Cheyennes (4:37)
  • Careless Love (0:36)
  • Gold Claim (1:39)
  • What Was Your Name In The States? (2:02)
  • He’s Gone Away (2:17)
  • A Home In The Meadow (1:55)
  • Marriage Proposal (1:44)
  • Entr’acte (4:36)
  • Mr. Lincoln (1:09)
  • He’s Linus’ Boy (2:01)
  • I’m Sad And I’m Lonely (3:02)
  • When Johnny Comes Marching Home (0:57)
  • Zeb’s Return (4:03)
  • The Pony Express (1:52)
  • A Railroader’s Bride I’ll Be (1:14)
  • Workin’ (0:28)
  • The Jugglers (0:18)
  • No Goodbye (1:48)
  • Zeb And Jethro (3:02)
  • Buffalo Stampede (1:39)
  • Climb A Higher Hill (4:17)
  • The Van Valen Auction (3:58)
  • Gant (1:54)
  • No Goodbye (2:35)
  • Celebration (1:49)
  • Finale (0:20)
  • Finale Ultimo (2:59)
  • Exit Music (2:46)
  • Miss Bailey’s Ghost (Playback Version) (0:26)
  • A Home In The Meadow (Playback Version) (3:01)
  • When I Was Single (Playback Version) (0:42)
  • Shenandoah (Alternate) (2:27)
  • Rock Of Ages (Playback Version) (1:28)
  • The Erie Canal (Playback Version) (1:09)
  • Wait For The Hoedown (Extended Version) (2:49)
  • First Meeting (Alternate Version) (2:23)
  • No Goodbye (Demo) (1:50)
  • A Home In The Meadow (Alternate Version) (2:34)

Running Time: 138 minutes 31 seconds

Rhino Movie Music R2-72458 (1962/1997)

Music composed by Alfred Newman. Conducted by Alfred Newman, Robert Emmett Dolan and Robert Armbruster. Orchestrations by Ken Darby, Jack Hayes and Leo Shuken. Score produced by Alfred Newman and Robert Emmett Dolan. Album produced by Didier C. Deutsch.

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