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KING OF KINGS – Miklós Rózsa

September 14, 2020 Leave a comment Go to comments


Original Review by Craig Lysy

Producer Samuel Bronston related that the most impactful event in human history was the birth, life and death of Jesus Christ. He had long nurtured the dream to bring this remarkable tale to the big screen. His conception, which was presented to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios was to make Jesus more accessible, by presenting Him as a flesh and blood man living during tumultuous times. Given the stunning success of Ben-Hur in 1959 MGM decided to cash in on the public’s love of biblical epics and gave Bronston permission to proceed. He hired writers Philip Yordan and Ray Bradbury to write the screenplay, and brought in veteran director Nicholas Ray to direct. A splendid cast was assembled, which included Jefferey Hunter as Jesus, Siobhán McKenna as Mary, Robert Ryan as John the Baptist, Ron Randell as Lucius, Hurd Hatfield as Pontius Pilate, Frank Thring as Herod Antipas, Rip Torn as Judas Iscariot, Harry Guardino as Barabbas, Carmen Sevilla as Mary Magdalene, Brigid Balzen as Salomé, and Guy Rolfe as Caiaphas.

The biblical tale is well known, however Bronston sought to place Jesus’ ministry in a political context in the aftermath of the Roman invasion and conquest. He would contrast Jesus’ peaceful ministry of preaching, and healing with the insurgent rebellion and violence fomented by Barabbas. In addition, Ray sought to contrast the grand spectacle of Jesus’ public life with his more intimate relationships with his mother and the apostles. Not without controversy was the decision to photograph Jesus’ face. Up until this time it had been understood by convention that Jesus’ face could not be shown in film. To this extent, the film was groundbreaking. Critical reception was negative and the film did not receive any Academy Award nominations, however over the years the public has warmed and now view it favorably, with a rating of 86% on Rotten Tomatoes. Commercially it was a modest success, earning $13.4 million or two and a half times its production cost of $5 million.

Samuel Bronston had always been impressed by Miklós Rózsa’s melodic gift, as well as his capacity to evoke the divine in such films as Quo Vadis and Ben-Hur. As such he was the natural choice for the project. Rózsa gladly accepted the assignment, which would present significant challenges. He had just completed what I, and many others believe to be his Magnum Opus, Ben-Hur. Taking on another biblical film, which would again include similar scenes such as the Nativity, Passion of the Cross and Crucifixion was daunting. He never the less rose to the occasion by composing new and inspired music from his apparently, inexhaustible font of melodies. Rózsa understood that for the foundation of his soundscape he would need to speak to three cultural identities; the power of imperial Rome, Judaism, and the theophany of Jesus. He would again utilize leitmotifs, which he would join in inspired interplay since all three cultural dynamics were fundamentally at odds with each other.

To support the film’s massive tapestry, a multiplicity of seventeen themes was conceived. The Via Dolorosa Theme is the prime template of Rózsa’s soundscape, the progenitor from which many of the score’s primary religious themes are derived. It emotes full of pathos as a marcia funebre, a repeating tragic five-note bass figure, which speaks to the passion of the cross, of Jesus’ walk to destiny along the via dolorosa. The King of Kings Theme offers the score’s preeminent theme, and for me, perhaps the finest in the Maestro’s canon. It is major modal and in its complete form offers a long lined ABCA construct. The A Phrase is declarative, a resplendent and offers a forthright affirmation of faith. The B Phrase by contrast is warm, tender and loving. The C Phrase is fervent and ardent, and ushers in a final resplendent and glorious rendering of the A Phrase, which resounds gloriously, a paean to almighty God. How Rózsa modulates the theme to support the emotions felt by Jesus is masterful. From out this theme arises a secondary theme, the Jesus Theme, which is derived from the first six notes of the primary theme. While the King of Kings Theme speaks to Jesus as the Christ, the glory of God, the Jesus Theme is more intimate, and speaks to Jesus in the flesh, the Son of Man. The Suffering Motif speaks to the suffering willingly accepted by Jesus to realize his destiny. Upper register strings affanato offer cyclic pain, opposed by celli and bass for a statement full of dread – a realization of what must be endured. The Lord’s Prayer Theme is offered just once for a truly sublime performance. It offers the score’s most romantic and eloquent theme with an AABCABA construct. The first A Phrase offers an orchestral prelude born with reverence by strings solenne. The second A Phrase brightens with angelic chorus and offers praise. The B Phrase is full of devotion and yearning, while the C Phrase abounds with the power of love. I believe this theme to be one of the most inspiring compositions in cinematic history, one which elevated it scene to the sublime.

The Beatitudes Theme is derived from the five-note Via Dolorosa Theme, altered by the addition of a twice repeating opening note, and a trailing falling note, which transforms it into a kindred eight-note construct. Further tying it to its progenitor is a trailing five-note bass phrase also derived from it. The theme offers a stirring religioso construct by strings sereni as Jesus offers Logos. The nine-note Disciple’s Theme is born by warm strings tenero, and offers a classic ABA construct with the inviting A Phrase gentle and welcoming, while the B Phrase is hopeful and full of yearning. The theme inspires and conveys a feeling of humility and devotion by simple men who are poor in spirit and abandon their livelihood and families, drawn by their love and devotion to Jesus. Mary’s Theme expresses both her tenderness, serenity and maternal love. Rózsa interpolated its melody from Medieval plainchant “Victimae Paschali Laudes”. This free flowing long lined melody is emoted by either solo oboe, solo English horn with warm lyrical strings reverenti, which comfort us as though we are held like infants in our adoring mother’s arms. The John the Baptist’s Theme serves as his identity as the Herald of Jesus. Assertive strings and declarative woodwinds offer a forthright and unyielding identity, which perfectly speak to his destiny as the man who prepares the path for Jesus’ ministry. The oriental draped Mount Galilee Theme is a beautifully crafted construct emoted by middle register strings, and woodwinds with a contrapuntal bass line. Horns then join the main line, as the contrapuntal line is taken up by violins. There is a reserved nobility in this traveling theme, which carries multitudes to hear Jesus preach. The Gethsemane Theme is draped with oriental auras and carried by a solo oboe spettrale answered by a forlorn English horn or flute, with harp adornment, which shift to and fro in serpentine fashion. It speaks to Jesus’ anxiety as he wavers in his resolve to meet his destiny.

For our adversaries, Rózsa provides four themes; the Judas’ Theme supports the betrayer, who fails to understand that Jesus will transform humanity by his death on the cross and resurrection, not by leveraging the power of Heaven to strike down the Roman occupiers. His lack of understanding and faith is expressed by Rózsa by a pathetic mutation of the Via Dolorosa Theme, which is transformed by the removal of its third note. Its strident strings offer a cold, hollow, and harsh articulation, devoid of any warmth or empathy. The Barabbas’ Theme like Judas’ Theme is an antagonist to the Via Dolorosa and religious themes in that he believes the only way to free Israel from Roman subjugation is by violence. As such the theme mirrors the religious themes with an inverted image, which emotes with aggression, ruthlessness and menace. The Devil’s Theme offers a perfect juxtaposition to the Jesus Theme, a malignant twelve tone, thirteen-note construct, which perfectly embodies his role as tempter and adversary. Violas, and a seductive serpentine clarinet sinistre figure shift to and fro with an articulation, which never coalesces into a cogent statement or resolves. Herod the Great’s Theme is twisted and evil. A bassoon sinistre with serpentine trilling kindred woodwinds support his malevolence and ruthless cruelty

For the Roman occupiers Rózsa supports their military might with an oppressive marcia bellicoso and other martial motifs. Pontius Pilate Theme emotes as a stoic marcia militare. What it lacks in pompousness it makes up with steely Roman determination. It serves not only as his personal identity, but also by extension, the Romans under his command. For the Jews he drew inspiration from musicologist Abraham Zevi Idelsohn as he did for Quo Vadis and Ben-Hur. Rózsa relates; “He made a collection of Hebrew music as it was played by the Jews of Yemen, who lived in almost complete segregation for nearly two thousand years. Their music and their instruments were very similar to those of ancient Judea.” He interpolated these sensibilities into several cues, including the Seder Motif used for the Last Supper, and the Elder’s Theme, which serves as the identity of the temple priests. For this theme strings doloroso bathe us in oriental auras, offering a lamentation, which speaks to us of the long-suffering plight of the Jewish people, now caught in the powerful yoke of Roman occupation. Lastly, it should be noted that although the score received no recognition from the Motion Picture Academy, the hymn like qualities of Rózsa themes resonated with the public. As such he was honored when music publishers solicited him to adapt several of his pieces for church choral performances.

We open with “Overture” where Rózsa offers a glorious score highlight, which sets the stage for the film with a classic Golden Age overture. We open with solemnity, bathed in liturgical auras as the Jewish Seder Motif, a five-note descending construct by tubular bell and piano joins with a processional choral rendering of the Mount Galilee Theme. The jubilant opening phrase is sung by tenor and bass wordless vocals, which are soon joined by antiphonal soprano and altos’ voices with stirring effect. We then transition at 0:49 to a final reprise by strings and echoing male chorus, which join in holy communion. At 1:13 lyrical warm strings sereni bring forth a heartfelt extended rendering of Mary’s Theme. At 2:14 we segue boldly into the ethnic John’s Theme, which entwines with Mary’s Theme as the Herald of Jesus and Mother of Jesus join in splendid interplay. We conclude at 3:08 with a jubilant reprise of the Mount Galilee Chorus, which slowly dissipates on a diminuendo.

“Prelude” offers a wondrous score highlight, where Rózsa showcases his King of Kings Theme, its finest presentation on the album. As the MGM logo displays, we open with fanfare declarations by horns reale, which draw inspiration from the Jesus Theme. We build on a grand crescendo maestoso, which culminates as “King of Kings” displays with celebratory ecstasy. We behold trumpets brilliante joining with mixed chorus singing Hosannas, full orchestra and organ reverenti, which achieve a sublime confluence. The roll of the opening credits displays against firelight dawn skies of hope. At 0:42 we segue into the B Phrase, which abounds with warmth, and tenderness. At 1:11 we commence a fervent breath-taking choral ascent atop the C Phrase, which crests powerfully at 1:34 with a resounding reaffirmation of the A Phrase, which offers the score’s most profound and glorious statement. As the theme subsides, a march rhythm begins to coalesce and at 2:30 we segue into “Roman Legions” atop a martial Marcia Romana who oppressive rhythm supports Roman legions marching across the countryside, as narration informs us that Jerusalem has fallen and the victorious General Pompey arrives to take his bounty.

“The Elders” reveals Pompey’s stoic ride up the Temple steps into the Court of Priests, where he is greeted by the aggrieved stares of dozens of white robed Elders. A grotesque string tremolo supports this brazen trespass by a gentile and joins with a mourning Elder’s Theme, which emotes as a lamentation. Pompey dismounts and walks to the entrance to inner sanctum where he is barred by a line of priests who close ranks. We segue at 0:59 into “The Sanctuary” atop a harsh horn sting that supports Pompey’s order for javelins, which soldiers hurl with lethal precision, slaying the defiant priests. Horns barbaro resound with the Marcia Romana for the aftermath and the march carries his progress as Pompey walks into the inner sanctum. As he slices open the veil wall with his sword to enter the Holy of Holies, the string tremolo and mournful Elder’s Theme resumes as a dejected Pompey finds no treasure, takes the sacred Torah scrolls and departs.

In “The Scrolls” forlorn horns support Pompey exit with the scrolls and an aggrieved rendering of the Elder’s Theme sounds as the priests’ rage against his sacrilege. Yet as Pompey prepares to toss the scrolls into a fire pit, an aged priest approaches as a supplicant with arms outstretched. Pompey wavers, and surrenders the scrolls to the priest. Rózsa supports the poignant moment by introducing a kernel of hope into the Elder’s Theme articulation. At 0:53 we segue into “Subjugation” atop a cruel rendering of the Marcia Romana as we see Roman soldiers burning and pillaging the countryside. At 1:21 the music intensifies with the Elder’s Theme as we see Jews brutally rounded up and sent to the marble quarries. At 1:45 Rózsa introduces his sinister Herod’s Theme as Pompey further offends the Jews by appointing Herod the Great, an Idumean Arab as his puppet King of Israel. Interplay by the Elder’s and Herod’s Themes unfold as we see Jews rebelling with Herod brutally responding with a sea of crucifixion crosses hoisted across the land.

“Road to Bethlehem” reveals Jewish corpses being tossed into the fire as they pray for a deliverer. Repeated dire horn statements support the horror unfolding before our eyes. At 0:28 we change scenes to Joseph and Mary traveling by donkey to Jerusalem to comply with Caesar’s taxation decree. Rózsa introduces Mary’s tender theme, which abounds with hope, and carries their progress. At 0:53 they arrive in Bethlehem where we see drunkenness, violence and disorder, which Rózsa supports the tumult with harsh strident music, which unsettles. As Joseph pleads with the angry innkeeper for a room, Mary waits dutifully in the background. Rózsa shifts to and fro from anger to the serenity of Mary’s Theme as Joseph secures a stall in the stable. At 1:53 we segue into “The Nativity” a wondrous score highlight, where the confluence of Rózsa music and cinematography achieve a perfect cinematic moment. We begin atop Mary’s Theme, which yields at 2:09 to a marcia maestoso as we see the Magi traveling, guided by the birth star. Their arrival at 2:26 is supported by one of the score’s finest moments, a wondrous carol, introduced by woodwinds delicato adorned with twinkling triangle and bells. The refrain by angelic voices brings a quiver and a tear, a sublime musical testament as we see the Magi kneel and present their gifts. We are overcome as the joyous chorus soars and concludes with a flourish.

In “Slaughter of the Innocents” dire horns support Joseph awakened by a dream that warns him that they must flee. As they flee, an aggrieved Mary’s Theme with tremolo strings agitato carry their progress. At 0:48 Rózsa unleashes a horrific, raging torrent from Hell as we see centurion Lucius Catanus carrying out Herod’s order to slaughter all male infants to foreclose the messianic threat to his throne. As the carnage unfolds, we swell of a monstrous crescendo of horror until 1:32 when we shift to Herod’s throne room atop his slithering theme, which now writhes in pain as we see him collapse in agony. “Joseph and Mary” opens with Herod Antipas kicking a death blow to his father; patricide to gain a crown. We see that the son is as evil as his father and so Rózsa in death transfers his malignant theme to his son. At 0:16 following news of Herod’s death, Joseph has brought his family back to Nazareth, where twelve years have passed. As we see them living a simple life, Rózsa graces us with a beautiful exposition of Mary’s Theme by solo oboe delicato with harp adornment. When a merchant arrives and offers to take Jesus to see the world, Mary declines, saying that someone else will call him at the appointed time. We close with strings ansiosi, which support the arrival of Lucius who has comes to verify the tax rolls.

In “Relief” Lucius questions Mary and discovers that her son was born twelve years ago in Bethlehem. After a tense pause, he departs not willing to reopen memories of that horrific night. Mary’s Theme carries her relief as he departs. At 0:14 we segue into “Pontius Pilate’s Arrival” supported by Pilate’s Theme, a determined and methodical marcia militare, which is provided an extended exposition as we see the new Governor marching through the countryside to assume his new post. Barabbas and his men watch covertly on the rocky bluffs above and prepare an ambush despite being vastly outnumbered. The march slowly swells with Roman pride as they approach a water station. At 2:28 parched soldiers run to quench themselves propelled by Pilate’s Theme, which transforms from a march into a joyous dash of exhilaration. “John the Baptist” opens with Pilate’s Theme as his wife Claudia reproaches his ambition. We change scenes at 0:07 and see Lucius escorting Herod Antipas and his family with a cohort of Roman troops to greet and escort Pompey to Jerusalem. Below them they see John the Baptist baptizing and preaching to a large crowd, which concerns Herod. The scene shifts back and forth between John below and Herod on a buff above. What unfolds is masterful thematic interplay between a forthright John’s Theme on strings and woodwinds devote, and the serpentine Herod’s Theme on slithering tremolo strings and woodwinds sinistre.

The next two cues offer the score’s most ferocious action writing. In “Revolt” Barabbas prepares his ambush with his aggressive theme propelled by a string ostinato, which begins a kinetic crescendo that crests at 0:43 with horns of war sounding the attack. The Romans are caught off guard and on the defensive with martial trumpets at 0:50 sounding the call to form ranks. It is a two-pronged attack with Barabbas launching a frontal assault directly against Pilate while a second attack rains down lances on the Roman center. Rózsa whips his orchestra into frenzy, propelled by phrases of the Barabbas Motif as the battle is joined. At 1:26 whirling figures join with his motif as his men shower the Romans with lethal sling rocks. Barabbas’ Theme slowly swells and becomes ascendent as the Jews gain the upper hand. Yet all is undone at 2:22 as Pilate’s Theme resounds as the tide of battle shifts to the Romans thanks to the arrival of Lucius’ troops. We segue at 2:31 into “Barabbas’ Escape” atop a desperate rendering of his theme as he orders a retreat. Barabbas leaps off a rock and knocks Lucius off his horse and unleashes the score’s most aggressive music as the men fight hand to hand. A ferocious intensification at 3:13 supports the fight as each struggle to gain the upper hand. At 3:43 a cascading descent motif carries the two sliding down a steep stone facer. They both right themselves but when Lucius evades Barabbas’ knife thrust, he loses balance and slides down the facer out of reach. We close with Barabbas fleeing a shower of arrows and escaping on horseback propelled by his theme.

“Herod the Great” offers a cue, which was never recorded by Rózsa, nor used in the film. It opens with a horn declared Pompey’s Theme and then transitions to a repeating agitato. At 0:32 we segue into “The Baptiser”, which reveals John baptizing people. The most warm and intimate rendering of his theme supports the scene where we see him with humility denying that he is neither the prophet Elijah who has come down from heaven, or the Messiah. As he declares “The Messiah is one who will come after him,” Jesus stands next in line. At 1:45 we segue into “Baptism of Christ” a sublime score highlight. As the two men lock eyes, we are graced by a beautifully serene rendering of the King of Kings Theme by ethereal tremolo strings, attended by flute, oboe and celesta. As Jesus kneels angelic female choir join as John tenderly places his hand on Jesus’ head. Jesus then stands, offers a faint smile and departs. Not a single word was spoken in this scene, and it was Rózsa’s perfectly attenuated music, which fleshed out the emotions of this poignant meeting. At 2:53 we segue into “Sadness and Joy”, which reveals John the Baptist visiting Mary, inquiring why Jesus came to the river, to which she answers, to be baptized. We are graced with a warm, achingly beautiful rendering of Mary’s Theme by solo cello tenero. We see sadness in her eyes, the realization that Jesus has commenced his path to destiny. At 3:32 when John states he cannot baptize he who is without sin, an ethereal Jesus’ Theme unfolds on solo oboe delicato. A solemn John’s Theme enters at 3:43 when he states that “the word must be brought to Jerusalem, yet I know I am not the one to deliver it.” We close warmly on Mary’s Theme as she states “When his time comes, he will be there” as John departs.

“The Temptation of Christ” offers a score highlight, a testament to Rózsa’s mastery of his craft, as his music was tasked with fleshing out the Devil, who cannot be seen. The scene was shortened significantly when ineffective visuals of a black hooded Devil were discarded. We open with a beleaguered rendering of his theme as Jesus isolates himself from the world to fast, pray and prepare himself for what is to come. The Suffering Motif enters at 0:28 as Jesus walks a torturous path, swelling on a crescendo of pain as he struggles. At 0:49 the Devil’s Theme arrives on clarinet sinistre, spectral violas, and dire horns as the adversary taunts, and then tempts Jesus. From this point the album cue and film diverge due to editing. On the album, the Devil’s Theme ushers in the Temptation Motif, a grotesques dissonant soundscape of writhing strings attended by serpentine trilling woodwinds, which swirl like the wind to support the first two temptations. Each victory by Jesus resolves with a crescendo. At 4:06 a solo oboe doloroso and kindred woodwinds emote over tremolo strings, which carries a famished and weary Jesus to the final temptation, which commences at 4:28. The Devil’s Theme returns and then mutates into a seductive violin and writhing tremolo strings, which usher in the Temptation Motif as one last effort is made to corrupt Jesus. Yet Jesus rises up at 4:58 empowered by the King of Kings Theme challenging the Devil come to him. The Devil’s Theme rises to challenge one last time, but dissipates at 5:48 when Jesus declares that he will not put God to the test. Rózsa affirms Jesus’ victory with a triumphant declaration of the King of Kings Theme.

“The Chosen” offers a beautiful score highlight, which showcases Rózsa’s Disciples’ Theme, one of the score’s most lyrical melodies. Jesus begins his ministry and commences to recruit twelve disciples. As Andrew and John join, the theme unfolds with warmth and gentility. We conclude at 1:11 on strings tranquilli, which emote a tender Jesus Theme as he invites Peter to become a fisher of men. “Signal for Pilate” reveals Pompey’s arrival at Fort Antonia in Jerusalem supported by martial fanfare. He orders Lucius to mount the image of Tiberius on the Temple columns, which will enrage the Jews as it is a graven image. At 0:08 we segue into “Herod’s Feast” where Herod entertains Pompey and Lucius. Rózsa supports the banquet ambiance with a small ensemble, which provide a danza exotica. John rages on the streets below and is arrested after he hurls a coin offered by Pompey back as a rebuke. “Miracles” offers a cue of transcendent emotive power as Rózsa supports scenes lacking dialogue with imagery of Jesus performing healing miracles. In scene one we open with a struggling ascent of hope as Jesus lays out his hands over the gnarled limbs of a bedbound boy. As his limbs slowly relax and straighten tortured strings rise and fall amidst a sea dissonance until 0:48 when a warm Jesus Theme abounding with love unfolds as Jesus lowers his arms and the boy raises himself from bed. As he struggles with his first steps, so too does the theme until 1:36 when he falls. Yet he is determined and as he walks out of the house into the light of day for the first time the Jesus Theme resounds gloriously supported by angelic female choir and chiming bells. We segue into scene two at 1:51 as we see a blind man with a cane making his way through a street. Bubbling woodwinds carry his progress until 2:01 when he drops his cane and the outstretched hand of Jesus shades his eyes. As their eyes meet, a heartfelt Jesus Theme unfolds and supports the man’s regaining of his sight. He falls to the ground and shields himself, overcome from the divine radiance, which has not only healed his eyes, but illuminated his soul. We close gloriously atop the theme, which culminates with a flourish.

“The Hovel” reveals Judas bringing food to Barabbas, who is hiding from the authorities. He informs him of a new prophet, one proclaimed by John. Rózsa supports their dialogue with a tête-à-tête by bassoon and clarinet. We close on an agitated Barabbas Theme as they depart in search of Jesus. At 0:34 we segue into “Parable of the Seed” atop strings sereni emoting the Jesus Theme as he explains the meaning of his parable. At 1:00 a strident agitato (dialed out of the film) supports an adulteress fleeing an angry mob. “Mary Magdalene” opens with grim discordance as Jesus places himself in front of her and picks up a stone. He confronts the mob with a moral challenge; “Let him amongst you who has never sinned cast the first stone!” supported by a grim staccato phrase of the Jesus Theme. This serves to dissipate the mob’s anger, and they disperse. Jesus drops the stone, and calmly walks to the stunned woman who is bewildered. She accepts his hand as he helps her to her feet, supported by an impassioned ascent, which ushers in at 0:38 a resplendent statement of the King of Kings Theme buttressed with French horns nobile as he warmly reassures her, “Neither will I condemn you.” Later, a brief quote of John’s Theme supports an inquiry by Jesus regarding his whereabouts to a shop owner who informs him that he has been imprisoned by Herod.

In “Answer from a Stone” Barabbas, supported by his theme, attempts to speak to Jesus but flees when a Roman patrol appears. At 1:25 a tentative and uncertain Judas Theme joins as he picks up the stone dropped by Jesus. We see him beset by inner conflict, unsure of whether to follow Barabbas, “the messiah of war, or Jesus, the messiah of peace.” An angry Barabbas’ Theme returns to close the scene as he slips over a wall to avoid Roman soldiers. At 1:58 Pilate’s Theme carries us to Lucius’ quarters where he agrees to entertain a request by Jesus to see John in prison. He recalls meeting his mother in Nazareth and consents to the visit. At 2:19 we segue into “The Blessing” a poignant score highlight where Rózsa’s music achieves a sublime confluence with film narrative. We open atop a dispirited John’s Theme as he sits alone in his cell. At 2:31 an ethereal Jesus’ Theme enters as his shadow alerts John to his presence. He calls to John, who begins crawling up a steep stone facer to reach him supported by his theme. Slowly we commence an inexorable climb, a stirring musical ascent by strings apassianato, swelling as John strives with all his might to grasp Jesus’ outstretched hand. At 3:21 he at last grasps Jesus’ hand and asks for his blessing as refulgent angelic female choir radiate the nourishing power of the Jesus’ Theme. Their eyes lock and as Jesus sheds a tear, a serenity comes to John’s face, he releases his hand, his spirit quenched, yet sad that their moment of communion must end. John rolls to the floor below and the ascent music returns reflecting his desire to regain their moment of unity, yet it dissipates as his body is too weak. We close powerfully with the sight of Jesus’s so full of compassion, his two outstretched hands reaching through the bars as angelic choir reprise his theme.

“Casting Out the Demon/The Madman” reveals Jesus walking in the country, where they are joined by three more disciples; Philip, Bartholomew and Judas. The gentle Disciple’s Theme carries their progress as the enter the town of Capernaum. At 0:37 tremolo strings of danger usher in a horrific fortissimo rendering of the Devil’s Theme as a possessed, raving man has run amuck. He sees Jesus and charges against him, yet when they embrace and their eyes lock, the tempest of madness dissipates and a serenity comes over the man who melts in Jesus’ arms. The moment is transcendent and an ethereal rendering of the King of Kings Theme adorned by solo oboe, flute and angelic chorus brings a quiver, and a tear. “Woman of Sin” offers a score highlight, which showcases Mary’s Theme. Mary Magdalene has journeyed to Nazareth to visit Jesus. Mary greets her and invites her to come in as she is all alone. When Mary Magdalene hesitates, stating that she is a woman of sin, Mary puts her at ease, stating “You would not have sought this home if God had not wanted you to.” Now comforted, Mary Magdalene accepts the invitation and agrees to join Mary for dinner. Rózsa supports the intimacy of the scene with an extended rendering of Mary’s Theme, whose melody shifts to and from through the orchestra from solo English horn gentile, strings, to cello doloroso when Mary comforts her with the parable of the lost sheep, then lush strings, before closing as it began on English horn. At 2:32 we segue atop a formal rendering of Pilate’s Theme as Lucius briefs him and Claudia on the mounting reports of miracles performed by Jesus.

“John’s Message” reveals an inquisitive Lucius visiting John for more insight into Jesus. John thanks him for his kindness and asks that he relay a message to Jesus, asking him to confirm that he is indeed the Promised One, or are we to expect another. Lucius is moved, and releases John from his shackles as a final act of kindness. We open darkly as a troubled Lucius goes to John’s cell. Rózsa supports the scene with an extended rendering of John’s Theme first by woodwinds sereni, and then impassioned strings, which crescendo on horns dramatico as Lucius unshackles him. We close with finality on strings sombre as John accepts his fate knowing that his mission to prepare the people for the arrival of Jesus has come to an end. In “Jugglers and Tumblers” Herod hosts another banquet for his family and Pilate. A small ethnic ensemble supports acrobats with a danza exotica. At 1:01 we segue into “Herod’s Desire” where he has become drunk and aroused by Salome’s beauty. His lust is obvious, and he commands her to dance for him, promising her as King to grant her any wish. With diabolical intent she entices Herod to give his word as King, that he will grant any wish, to which he foolishly agrees. The dance from the previous cue is sustained, but its tempo has slowed and become more pronounced. “Salome’s Dance” offers the most intense and exotic dance in Rózsa’s canon, a savage, seductive and sensuous danza orientale. Once again, a small ensemble of woodwinds, a sistrum, various reed instruments and drums support the dance. Salomé plays the temptress stoking his arousal, yet always remaining out of reach. The dance closes with utter savagery, crowned with a gong strike, an allusion to her diabolical wish.

In “Christ’s Answer” Salome demands the head of John on a silver platter, payment for the insults he hurled against her and her mother. Herod and the Romans are aghast, yet she will not relent, rejecting all the jewels Herod offers. Cornered by his own words, Herod orders his guard to give her what she asks. We open savagely as Herod assumes the evil and malevolent mantle of his reprehensible father. At 0:17 we shift to John’s cell where he beholds a revelation from Jesus who relates the many miracles of his ministry and then honors him as the beloved Herald of the Kingdom of God. Rózsa supports their final moment together with a warm and intimate parting statement of the King Of Kings Theme by tremolo strings gentile, celeste, oboe and angelic female chorus. John’s kneels and weeps as his life is now affirmed, and he is reconciled to his fate. At 1:37 we segue violently into “The Beheading of John” atop savage timpani and horns of doom as the executioner arrives with his massive sword. As John looks out the cell window where he last saw Jesus, his tender theme is reprised. We close savagely on a horrific crescendo of violence as the executioner slowly raises his swords and then beheads John. At 2:16 we segue into “Salome’s Dance”, which was intended to conclude her savage danza erotic, but it ended up being dialed out of the film when the scene was shortened.

“Mount Galilee” reveals a multitude pf people assembling on Mount Galilee to hear Jesus preach. Joining the crowds are Lucius, Claudia, Caiaphas, Nicodemus and Barabbas, who each arrive with different motivations. Rózsa drapes us in religioso auras, supporting the scene with the Mount Galilee Theme rendered as a processionale solenne. At 1:34 we segue into “Sermon on the Mount”, a profound cinematic moment, which achieves a sublime confluence. We see Jesus end his secluded contemplation and walk to the hill crest to address the massive crowd. When he appears, he raises his arms as a welcoming benediction. We are graced with the score’s most intimate, loving and heartfelt rendering of the Jesus Theme with interplay of the Mount Galilee Theme as the people all move up the slope to be closer. A diminuendo solonne at 3:14 sets the stage where Jesus preaches the Beatitudes, which will become the core beliefs of Christianity, supported by the Beatitude Theme, emoted by soft strings reverenti answered by bass. Soon soft, lyrical strings gentile bring forth Jesus’s Theme, which speaks to us of his gentleness and love. We conclude as we began with the solemnity of the Beatitude Theme, whose strings reverenti join with the spoken word, achieving a Devine confluence. At 4:51 we flow into “Love Your Neighbor” where Jesus enters the crowd to speak more intimately carried by the Beatitudes Theme. When a camel driver asks, “Rabbi, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus replies, “Love the Lord, your God, with all your heart…and love your neighbor as you love yourself.” We bear witness to an inspired ascent from which the Jesus Theme at 5:35 is reborn, shorn of its divinity, and now fully accessible, revealing his humanity, kindred in both flesh and spirit. He continues to preach and exhort people to goodness supported with gentleness by his transformed theme. At 6:57 we segue into “The Wisdom of Christ” supported by a wondrous woodwind pastorale as Jesus looks up to the heavens and proclaims, “Behold the birds of the sky; they neither sow nor reap nor take their harvest to the barns, and yet God feeds them.” We close at 7:29 full of solemnity as men loyal to Barabbas challenge; “If you can do miracles, call on God to send down hosts to destroy the Romans and free our people from bondage.” Jesus firmly replies “Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God. The Romans are conquerors. To conquer them would make you no different than they.”

In “The Law of the Prophets” a reverential Beatitude Theme supports Jesus’ exhortation of the power of prayer stating “Ask and you shall receive.” At 0:57 a Devine rendering of the Jesus Theme resounds on horns nobile as Jesus declares; “Do for others what you would have them do for you. For this is the law of the prophets!” “The Lord’s Prayer” offers a beautiful score highlight, a testament to Rózsa’s mastery of his craft where he composes music for the ages, which achieves a supreme cinematic moment. A disciple asks “teach us to pray”, to which Jesus reflects and turns his eyes to heaven to directly speak to his father with an act of love, and submission. Rózsa introduces his Lord’s Prayer Theme with the opening A Phrase offering an orchestral prelude born with reverence by strings solenne. The second A Phrase brightens with angelic chorus and offers praise as Jesus’ words inspire the crowd. At 0:40 the B Phrase enters full of devotion and yearning, followed by the C Phrase at 1:00, which abounds with the power of love. A reprise of the A and B Phrases reveal an almost rapturous awe in the faces of the people, overcome by transcendent power of the moment. A diminuendo of sadness enters at 1:49 as Barabbas is dismissive of Jesus’ words and roughly rejects a stunned Judas. We close with a refulgent choral reaffirmation of the A Phrase as Judas abandons Barabbas and rejoins Jesus and the disciples.

“The Disciples” reveals Jesus leading his disciples into the wilderness where he may teach them free of distractions. A wonderful extended rendering of the Disciples Theme, which swells wondrously carries their progress. A seamless transposition to a reverent Beatitudes Theme occurs at 0:55 as narration states that these were simple, poor men who were pure in heart, whose faith needed to be strengthened. At 1:18 beleaguered horns, swirling strings and woodwind trills support a sandstorm, which buffets the men. Later, as they refresh themselves at a spring, the warmth of the Disciple’s Theme rejoins. At 1:53 a refulgent rendering of the Jesus Theme by ethereal choir affirms the devotion, and spiritual bond the disciples have with Jesus, and crowns the moment where Jesus dispatches them in groups of two, to preach to all of Judea that the Kingdom of God is at hand, to heal the sick, and exercise authority over evil. “Barabbas’ Plan” reveals Judas exhorting Barabbas to abandon violence to free the Jews. He recruits him for his plan, to support Jesus when he preaches in the Temple surrounded by multitudes. Then by will of the people they will proclaim him King, with the Romans powerless to reach him. Judas’ twisted theme supports his misguided efforts and he leaves declaring that with Barabbas’ support “This will be a day to be remembered!” At 1:00 a diabolical Barabbas Theme enters and swells monstrously as he reveals his plans to deceive Judas, by coopting Jesus’ crowds and attacking the seat of Roman power, the fortress of Antonia.

“Entr’acte” offers a magnificent Overture, which provides grand presentations of three of the score’s themes. We open with resounding declarations of the Beatitudes Theme by horns nobile, which leads to a powerful exposition. At 1:07 we flow into a very moving and stirring rendering of the Lord’s Prayer Theme, using the B and C phrases, and a bridge of fanfare reale, which culminates with a reaffirmation of the yearning B Phrase. We conclude powerfully with grandeur as horns brilliante declare the King of Kings Theme in all its refulgent glory, which graces us with a magnificent exposition. In “Premonition” Jesus has returned home and a warm statement of Mary’s Theme full of a mother’s love supports their embrace. Yet as he tries to mend a chair and she knit, her theme transforms into a lament, an allusion to what is to come. When Peter and John arrive and they prepare to depart for Jerusalem, Jesus says that mending the chair will have to wait for his return, to which Mary replies “The chair will never be mended”. Jesus is astonished by her prescience as well as he declaration that she will be joining them.

“Jesus Enters Jerusalem” reveals Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem with people laying palm leaves along his path. Rózsa supports with a processionale festivamente replete with bell adornment. Juxtaposed are scenes of Barabbas’ men arming themselves. At 0:57 Rózsa interpolates a traditional Psalm-like theme derived from a cantor sung Passover song. Its repeating twelve-not statements bath us in oriental auras with its contrapuntal rhythms. At 1:20 Barabbas climbs a water wheel supported by a menacing statement of his theme, which swells as a he signals the attack with a cry “Long Live Judea!”. The next three cues offer some of the most intense and ferocious action cues in Rózsa’s canon. At 1:43 we segue into “Tempest in Judea” where Rózsa unleashes a tour de force propelled by strings furioso and strident drums as Jewish rebels rush to the fortress smashing open its gates at 2:49 with a battering ram. An orchestral torrent rages empowered by a repeating five-note Jewish War Motif as they flood into the courtyard where well-armed and prepared Roman soldiers await. At 3:33 we segue into “Defeat” as Roman archers shoot volleys of arrows with lethal effect. At 3:45 trumpets sound the alarm as Jews attempt to scale the southern wall. Next, giant crossbows are revealed, and with each launch the bolts mow down dozens. At 4:08 the music intensifies with a rising panic as the Jews are caught in a killing zone. At 4:45 trumpets resound and the Romans close the main gate and form a phalanx of lancers four rows deep. We segue at 5:03 into “Phalanx” as fierce trumpets of doom unleash a horrific marcia della morte propelled by horns barbaro, crashing cymbals and crushing drum strikes. The Jewish War Motif and the Roman March contest, yet resistance is futile as the phalanx marches relentlessly ever forward, unstoppable, impaling the frantic Jews in a vice of death. The Roman March becomes ascendent and at 6:39 a horrified Barabbas looks down in disbelief supported by an anguished Jewish War Motif, which dissipates in death throes as the last of the Jews are slain. Barabbas is shot in the leg, cries out in anguish and tosses his sword down to Lucius. We segue at 7:11 into “False Promises” as a dejected Judas returns to the forge cave where he is berated by remnants of Barabbas’ men. His now strident theme carries him, but with a dark resolve. He declares that Jesus has the power of miracles, which can save the day. When the men counter that he is a man of peace, Judas declares that “I will force his hand! When he feels the Roman sword at his neck, he will smite them down with the wave of one arm!” A deluded Judas fashions in his mind not the Christ the Redeemer, but instead, the Anti-Christ of destruction, which Rózsa speaks to at 8:05 with a twisted, spectral, minor modal corruption of the Jesus Theme. We close darkly on the now malignant Judas Theme who accepts his role as the betrayer believing his arrest will force his hand to destroy the Romans.

In “The Last Supper” Jesus sits down to dinner with his disciples supported by the ritualistic strains of the Seder Motif. At 0:14 Judas arrives supported by a menacing rendering of his theme and sits down. The Seder Motif resumes on oboe delicato as Jesus offers the traditional Jewish prayer, yet sours when he declares; “Tonight one among you will betray me.” He then turns towards Judas and commands, “What you must do, do quickly!” At 1:13 a grim Judas’ Theme supports the declaration and carries his departure. With the meal resumed, the Seder Motif returns at 1:35, yet discord arises and the music darkens when Jesus declares that “All of you will lose courage and desert me.” All of them deny, including Peter, to whom Jesus replies; “This night before the cock crows twice, you will deny knowing me three times.” Yet the music lightens at 2:16 as a solo oboe tenero and strings devote with contrapuntal English horn emote a heartfelt exposition of the King of Kings Theme as Jesus declares; My last wish is that you love one another as I have loved you. The greatest gift a man can give is to lay down his life for his friends. And when I am gone you will be grieved, but your grief will turn into joy.…And one day I will see you again. And when I do, your joy will be such that no one can take it from you.” The confluence of Rózsa heartfelt melody and Jesus’ commentary is sublime. At 3:27 we segue into “The Feast of Passover” where Jesus performs the first Eucharist ceremony with the breaking of bread and drinking of wine, which will commemorate the shedding of his blood during his crucifixion. Rózsa supports the meal ethnically by using a male a capella chorus singing a tradition Jewish hymn.

“Judas Sees Caiaphas” reveals Judas arrival at the residence of the high priest Caiaphas carried by his theme, now empowered by strings bellicoso. He is obsessed with betraying Jesus, barges past the servant, and proceeds to Caiaphas’ chambers driven by the grim resolve of his theme. At 0:53 we segue into “Gethsemane” where Jesus prepares himself to accept his destiny. A solo oboe spettrale answered by a forlorn English horn emote the Gethsemane Theme, which is draped with oriental auras and harp adornment, shifting to and fro in serpentine fashion. At 1:29 we segue harshly atop a grim militarized Judas Theme to the Temple courtyard where Judas watches the temple guard and Roman soldiers assemble. At 1:42 the Gethsemane Theme resumes with an English horn leading and a forlorn flute answering as we see Jesus ask Peter and John to keep watch while he prays. At 3:20 an aggrieved rendering of the Jesus Theme, which speaks to his anguish supports Jesus falling to his knees in agony as he recoils from what awaits him. At 3:50 Jesus painfully beseeches his Father to “Take away this cup”. Rózsa supports the pathos with the tranquility of the Lord’s Prayer Theme, which informs us of Jesus’ submission to his destiny – “Father, thy will be done”. Jesus again falls to the ground in grief, and at 4:31 the now dire Judas Theme marches forward with a terrible resolve as we see he and the guards departing for the Mount of Olives. At 4:39 we segue into “Agony in the Garden” atop an aggrieved Jesus’s Theme born by strings affanato, solo oboe and vibraphone as he continues to suffer. We bear witness to Jesus reconciled to his fate, and submissive to his Father as he states; “And yet not as I will, but as You will.” Rózsa again supports the poignant testament with the ethereal tranquility of the Lord’s Prayer Theme, as Jesus accepts his destiny.

At 5:26 we segue harshly into “The Judas Kiss”, now empowered with malice as a marcia malevola as the guards approach Jesus. At 5:54 the Judas corrupted Anti-Christ Theme returns as he spots Jesus and walks towards him with a terrible resolve. This transfigured theme flows seamlessly into his theme, which begins a dramatic crescendo building with each step. As he reaches Jesus, they lock eyes, as he continues to foolishly hope that he can unleash with the now imminent arrest his Devine wrath against the Romans. We crest atop tortured horns at 6:30 as Judas kisses Jesus and betrays him. Judas’ Theme dissipates into nothingness as Jesus is arrested, and to his astonishment, offers no resistance. We return to the Temple courtyard where the treachery of the Judas’ Theme permeates as we see a servant offer Peter a drink, and assert that he was a follower of Jesus. As Peter denies he knows Jesus, a cock crows and at 7:14 a grim chord of betrayal sounds, punctuated with a trumpet spettrale. Peter walks to the fire pit to warm himself as strains of Judas’ Theme linger and intensify on a malignant string tremolo. Two Roman soldiers then ask Peter if he was one of Jesus’ disciples as Jesus enters at 8:16 and approaches him carried by a refulgent rendering of his theme. As they lock eyes, Peter averts his eyes, and again fervently denies he is a disciple. With eyes that now reveal self-loathing, Peter again locks eyes with Jesus, as a cock again crows supported by a grieving statement of the Jesus Theme, punctuated with a trumpet spettrale. Peter then flees, and Jesus is taken to Pilate carried by a sorrowful rendering of his theme.

“Herod’s Castle” was dialed out of the film and features trumpet reale fanfare. At 0:08 we segue into “Christ Before Herod” where Pilate rules that the charges against Jesus fall under the jurisdiction of King Herod and dismisses the case. As Jesus is led away his theme emotes molto tragico, merging with echoes of Barabbas’ Theme as they walk through a courtyard filled with memories of the massacre. Jesus stands silent, bound in Herod’s throne room, and at 0:38 Herod’s malignant theme carries his gawking circling of Jesus as he asks about his many miracles, and if he is John the Baptist returned from the dead. When he refuses to perform miracles or speak, Herod orders him returned to Pilate. At 1:03 we segue grimly into “Scourging of Christ”, a compelling score highlight of great emotive power. A frustrated Pilate orders Jesus scourged to loosen his tongue. This begins the Passion of the Christ, which Rózsa supports with the Via Dolorosa Theme rendered con brutalita as we see Jesus being scourged. A tortured Judas Theme arises seamlessly from the Via Dolorosa Theme on a dire crescendo of pain as we see him tormented and guilt stricken. He flees carried by the unrelenting malice of the Via Dolorosa Theme, which entwines with his tortured theme in unholy communion. He reaches a courtyard where carpenters fashion a cross and he is appalled. We build on a horrific crescendo of torment, which climaxes at 2:08 with a resounding, grievous declaration of the Jesus Theme by tortured horns dramatico and organ as a cross is raised before his eyes and he realizes the magnitude of his betrayal. At 2:12 we segue into “Crown of Thorns” where a Roman soldier fashions a crown of thorns and mockingly crowns Jesus King, supported by the unrelenting malice of the Via Dolorosa Theme. At 2:51 a menacing four-note motif supports Lucius looking down with disdain on Barabbas from a grid above his cell. The rest of the cue is dialed out of the film, intended to support Barabbas and his men awaiting execution.

In “Via Dolorosa/Christ Bearing His Cross” Lucius frees an incredulous Barabbas, explaining that the crowd was given the Passover choice to free him or Jesus, and chose him. As Barabbas departs, we see Jesus through the bars bearing the cross supported by the tormenting weight of the Via Dolorosa Theme. At 0:17 Barabbas’ Theme supports his exit to the streets, where he beholds Jesus bearing his cross. As Jesus struggles on the cobblestone path, a marcia di agonia carries his progress rising and falling like waves of despair. Violins affanato carrying the four-note main line with the oppressive contrapuntal five-note Via Dolorosa Theme emoted by bass. At 1:39 a tragic descent supports Jesus and Mary’s eyes locking in a shared moment of resigned despair. At 2:05 a painful descent supports Jesus collapse and the transfer of the cross to a Cyrenean as a woman wipes Jesus’ face with a wet towel, and a distraught Judas look down from a rooftop. The torment of the marcia di agonia is sustained and unrelenting until 2:59 when the mainline repeats and pauses as Jesus entreats grieving women “Do not weep for me”. At 3:27 the procession has exited the city sustained by the relentless rhythms of the march and ascends Golgotha. At 4:13 as Judas watches nearby, Barabbas joins him, but is spurned as mournful trumpets sound in the distance. As they arrive the march’s main line writhes in pain as Mary and John watch Jesus prepared for crucifixion. At 4:51 we segue into “Crucifixion” atop Barabbas’ Theme as he queries Judas why Jesus allows himself to die in his place. With intensifying agony, the Via Dolorosa Theme supports the hoisting and implanting of Jesus’ cross. At 5:23 a tragic rendering of the Jesus Theme enters as he beseeches his Father; “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” and then gazes down on John and Mary. At 6:03 the second thief asks Jesus to remember him when he ascends to his kingdom. A luminous choral rendering of the King of Kings Theme supports Jesus’ promise that he would join him today in paradise. Jesus then turns to his mother and commands “Woman behold your son.” The moment is shattered at 6:30 as the Via Dolorosa Theme rises grimly to support a soldier nailing the cross inscription “INRI – Jesus of Nazareth King of the Jews”. At 6:57 Judas’ Theme returns as he is inconsolable and departs. He picks up a blood-stained stone, and gazes back at Jesus as he remembers that fateful day when he also picked up a stone, which brought him to him. He leaves a broken and disillusioned man weary of life. At 7:07 we segue into “The Last Words of Christ” atop a grievous Via Dolorosa Theme as Mary and John gaze up at Jesus, whose life ebbs. He gazes up to the heavens and cries out “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” We see the clouds part as a beam of light radiates across the skies three times, each supported by strings brilliante at 7:29, 7:41 and 7:50. Having seen the heavenly signs, Jesus declares “It is finished”, “Father, into your hands I commend my soul.” Rózsa scores his passing as a lamentation with woodwinds solenne offering the first phrase, answered by basses. At 8:33, as Jesus bows his head in death, strings brilliante support his passing as the skies darken and resound with retributive thunder.

In “Golgotha” Lucius is overcome, drops to his knees and declares to Claudia “He is truly the Christ.” As thunder rumbles, massive horn chords resound and are answered by the Jesus Theme on bassoons. At 0:36 we change scenes grimly as Barabbas discovers the hanging corpse of Judas, which is marked by a last tragic iteration of his theme. At 0:58 we segue into “Pieta” a score highlight. Jesus is wrapped in white funereal linen, removed from the cross by Nicodemus and Joseph, and handed gently to John. A sad, minor modal statement of the B Phrase of the King of Kings Theme full of heartache supports the scene. At 1:49 Jesus is laid on Mary’s lap, as an English horn tenero ushers in Mary’s Theme, which is given a poignant exposition by strings nobile that offer a testament to her steadfast belief in what her son accomplished with his supreme sacrifice. At 2:24 we segue into “The Sepulchre” where we see Joseph and Nicodemus carrying Jesus to his tomb accompanied by Mary, John and Mary Magdalene. Rózsa supports the pathos with a sad, minor modal statement of the B Phrase of the King of Kings Theme, which, is reprised as a dirge. At 3:05 the Jesus Theme born by woodwinds doloroso mirror John’s heart as he leaves the tomb and joins Mary, supported by her warm theme by strings tenero, which carries their departure. As the men seal the tomb, a grave Mary’s Theme concludes the scene. The cue concludes in the film at 3:51, with the remaining 1:09 of music offering Rózsa’s original conception

There is a film-album musical variance for this “Resurrection” cue as the film’s ending was edited after Rózsa had departed the project. Regarding film narrative, we see Mary Magdalene awakening in the morning from her vigil outside of the tomb only to realize the great stone had been rolled away. She enters the tomb and discovers it is empty, save the burial garments. She then runs to alert the others and discovers a man, whom she does not recognize. When she reaches him, he turns and reveals the risen Christ. He forbids her to touch him and commands her to inform his disciples to join him in Galilee. Later as the disciples tend to their nets Jesus appears and declares “Do you love me? Feed my sheep”, “Go out and preach the gospel to all nations, for I am with you always, even until the end of the world.” All the disciples abandon their nets and depart except Peter, who pauses for one last beloved gaze at Jesus and then departs. The album presentation is a glorious score highlight and represents Rózsa’s original conception. Her awakening is supported with the B Phrase of the Disciple’s Theme, which attests to her status as the first disciple to see the resurrected Jesus. At 0:20 a refulgent choral rendering of the King of Kings Theme supports her entry into the cave and discovery. The cue then culminates gloriously with Hosannahs of exaltation, which conclude with a grand flourish. In the film version however, the film was reshot and additional footage added. Warm French horns nobile and tremolo strings herald the dawn and support her awakening. Strings appasianato carry her into the tomb, with her run to inform the others supported by the Lord’s Prayer Theme. As he departs the theme crests with a glorious affirmation of faith as she declares; “He has Risen!” At the Sea of Galilee, the Disciples Theme warmly supports their net tending. As Jesus greets them, a resplendent rendering of the King of Kings Theme supports his words and their departures. We conclude with a final glorious statement of the theme, which culminates with a stirring grand flourish. “Epilogue” offers a stirring score highlight. It was conceived to play following completion of the film, supporting the exit of the audience. We are graced by a resplendent choral rendering of the Lord’s Prayer Theme, which ends gloriously empowered by trumpets brilliante in a grand flourish. “Theme from King of Kings for Violin and Orchestra” offers a wonderful bonus cue, which features a gorgeous non-choral rendering of the King of Kings Theme for solo violin and orchestra.

I praise James Fitzpatrick and Tadlow Music for this long-awaited re-recording of the complete score to Miklós Rózsa’s masterpiece, King of Kings. This latest magnificent Tadlow recording completes the holy trinity of epic religious films, which have earned the Maestro immortality; Quo Vadis, Ben-Hur, and now this one. I commend the meticulous score restoration by Leigh Phillips, and the flawless performance of the City of Prague Orchestra and Chorus under the baton of Nic Raine and direction of choirmaster Miriam Nemcova. The album’s audio quality is superb and provides a wonderful listening experience. One would think that Rózsa would be creatively tapped out for the genre after composing what I believe to be his Magnum Opus, Ben-Hur, especially when we consider that he would have to score many scenes shared in common. Yet this score offers a testament to Rózsa’s inexhaustible font for melody, which offers seventeen themes as well as a number of motifs.

The score offers a latticework of interconnected and kindred themes, with most of the religious themes derived from a progenitor – the five-note Via Dolorosa Theme. This shared interconnectivity served to unify his soundscape and achieve a wondrous synergy. His talent as a composer to discern and capture a film’s emotional core was again demonstrated with his titular King of Kings Theme, a glorious paean to almighty God. Ingenious is that from out this theme arises a secondary theme, the Jesus Theme, which is derived from the first six notes of the primary theme. While the King of Kings Theme speaks to Jesus as the Christ, the glory of God, the Jesus Theme is more intimate, and speaks to Jesus in the flesh, the Son of Man. The maternal Mary’s Theme was well-conceived and spoke perfectly to her warmth, gentleness and selfless devotion to all around her. Also noteworthy was the profound romanticism and sublimity achieved with his Lord’s Prayer Theme, an inspired composition whose music achieved a transcendent cinematic confluence. The contrapuntal writing for the Passion of the Christ brought home the unbearable tragedy, suffering and pathos of the Via Doloroso. Also, to be commended was Rózsa’s well-conceived and executed ferocious action writing, which brought out the destructiveness, futility, and horrors of war. In scene after scene Rózsa’s music empowered, enhanced, and elevated the film’s narrative with thematic writing of the highest order, which inspires, and elicits a quiver and a tear. I believe this score to be a late career masterpiece, one of the finest Silver Age scores, and one of the greatest religious epics ever written. I highly recommend you purchase this exemplary album for your collection.

For those of you unfamiliar with the score, I have embedded a Youtube link to Nic Raine conducting the Entr’acte: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SPxsvV5OxCM

Buy the King of Kings soundtrack from the Movie Music UK Store

Track Listing:

  • Overture (3:47)
  • Prelude/Roman Legions (4:02)
  • The Elders/The Sanctuary (2:14)
  • The Scrolls/Subjugation (2:35)
  • Road to Bethlehem/The Nativity (4:06)
  • Slaughter of the Innocents (1:46)
  • Joseph and Mary (1:50)
  • Relief/Pontius Pilate’s Arrival (2:58)
  • John the Baptist (2:32)
  • Revolt/Barabbas’ Escape (4:57)
  • Herod the Great/The Baptiser/Baptism of Christ/Sadness and Joy (4:51)
  • The Temptation of Christ (6:30)
  • The Chosen (1:47)
  • Signal for Pilate/ Herod’s Feast (2:34)
  • Miracles (2:50)
  • The Hovel/Parable of the Seed (1:31)
  • Mary Magdalene/Answer from a Stone/The Blessing (4:16)
  • Casting Out the Demon/The Madman (2:20)
  • Woman of Sin (2:51)
  • John’s Message (1:53)
  • Jugglers and Tumblers/Herod’s Desire (2:54)
  • Salome’s Dance (2:58)
  • Christ’s Answer/The Beheading of John/Salome’s Dance (3:32)
  • Mount Galilee/Sermon on the Mount/Love Your Neighbor/The Wisdom of Christ (8:18)
  • The Law of the Prophets (1:29)
  • The Lord’s Prayer (2:47)
  • The Disciples (2:48)
  • Barabbas’ Plan (1:52)
  • Entr’acte (4:18)
  • Premonition (1:37)
  • Jesus Enters Jerusalem/Tempest in Judea/Defeat/Phalanx/False Promises (8:83)
  • The Last Supper/The Feast of Passover (Passover Chant) (6:22)
  • Judas Sees Caiaphas/Gethsemane/Agony in the Garden/The Judas Kiss (9:09)
  • Herod’s Castle/Christ Before Herod/Crown of Thorns/Scourging of Christ (3:41)
  • Via Dolorosa/Christ Bearing His Cross/Crucifixion/The Last Words of Christ (8:43)
  • Golgotha/Pieta/The Sepulcher
  • Resurrection (1:55)
  • Epilogue (1:59)
  • Theme from King of Kings for Violin and Orchestra (3:27) – BONUS

Running Time: 143 minutes 27 seconds

Tadlow Music 033 (1961/2020)

Music composed by Miklós Rózsa. Conducted by Nic Raine. Performed by The City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra. Original orchestrations by Eugene Zador. Recorded and mixed by Jan Holzner. Score produced by Miklós Rózsa. Album produced by James Fitzpatrick.

  1. Peter Hirschburg
    November 19, 2020 at 12:38 am

    Where can I buy it?

    March 30, 2021 at 8:50 am

    Why was the track “The Lord’s Prayer” sung by the choir, but without the words of the prayer (lyrics for want of a better word) on this wonderful double cd compared to the words sung by the choir on the original lp soundtrack? For example “Our Father, who art in heaven….etc.,).

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