Home > Greatest Scores of the Twentieth Century, Reviews > DAVID AND BATHSHEBA – Alfred Newman


February 6, 2023 Leave a comment Go to comments


Original Review by Craig Lysy

Following the success of Paramount’s “Samson and Delilah” in 1949, 20th Century Fox executive Darryl F. Zanuck believed it was time for his studio to enter the Biblical Epic genre. He decided that the film would focus on the life of the legendary King David of Israel. Zanuck personally took control of production, provided a budget of $2.17 million, hired Philip Dunne to write the screenplay and tasked Henry King with directing. The initial screenplay was a biopic, which would if filmed, render a four-hour movie. As such Zanuck directed Dune to pare it down, focusing entirely on David’s illicit affair with Bathsheba. For casting, Zanuck insisted on having the popular, successful, and beautiful actors Gregory Peck and Susan Hayward star as David and Bathsheba. Joining them would be Raymond Massey as Nathan, Kieron Moore as Uriah, and James Robertson Justice as Abishai.

The film is set in the Kingdom of Israel circa 1000 B.C.E. and explores the illicit love affair of King David and Bathsheba, wife of Uriah, one of David’s soldiers. In violation of the Law of Moses, David commits adultery with Bathsheba, who becomes pregnant. In an attempted cover-up David orders Uriah to take leave in hope he will sleep with Bathsheba and accept fatherhood when she later declares herself pregnant. Yet Uriah is loyal and continues his soldier duties. A now frustrated David orders Uriah placed in the front lines during battle, where he is purposely left exposed and killed. David then announces his intention to marry Bathsheba only for the prophet Nathan to expose his sins and demand he abdicate to his son. David refuses and a terrible drought descends on Israel, which cause discontent and anger towards David by the people. In an act of contrition, David accepts full responsibility, prays for forgiveness and prepares to accept death by touching the Ark of the Covenant. He does so, is not struck down but instead forgiven by God who sends a rainstorm to break the drought. The film was a tremendous commercial success, earning a profit of $2.55 million. Critics praised the film for offering a majestic rendering of the biblical tale and it earned five Academy Award nominations for Best Screenplay, Best Cinematography, Best Art Direction, Best Costume Design and Best Film Score.

It was Alfred Newman’s practice as Director of Music at 20th Century Fox to assign himself to all of studio executive Darryl F. Zanuck’s passion projects. The time commitment was significant, and Newman would spend an unprecedented 70 days on this assignment. He understood that this was a biblical epic, which would require the requisite fanfares and royal court accompaniment. Yet at the core of this narrative is a fervent, adulterous romance between a king who feels himself entitled, to the beautiful wife of one of his soldiers. He would have to speak to both their love, but also the tragedy that results from it. As with all biblical stories faith and religion are integral to the narrative and he realized that he would have to infuse the traditional religious auras and sensibilities, especially for the redemption finale.

In fashioning his soundscape, Newman began first with three set pieces, two of which would support scenes with choreographed dancers; the arrival of the Ark of the Covenant, and the Palace Dance scene, while the third involved harp playing by David as he recites to Bathsheba Psalm 23. For the architecture of his score, six primary themes express its narrative; the exotic Bathsheba’s Theme is borne by strings seducenti, which expresses her sexual allure and beauty. The Love Theme speaks to the romance between David and Bathsheba and offers one of Newman’s finest, borne by strings romantico, which ascend brightly, and ultimately soar rapturously. The Divine Theme is associated with divine power and law as well as Psalm 23, which is integral to the film’s narrative. It is also associated tangentially to the Prophet Nathan, who is an instrument of divine will. The theme for most of the film emotes as dire fanfare, which speaks to God’s wrath. It is only in the redemptive finale where it finally coalesces into a full unabashed statement, one of the finest religious thematic statements in Newman’s career, and cinematic history. The Israelite Theme supports the kingdom of Israel and offers martial strength, empowered by horns militare and drums bellicoso. While it supports the Israel military, it also serves as an anthem for King David. Lastly, we have Young David’s Theme, which offers a woodwind pastorale that supports David as a young shepherd boy tending to his flock. There is a purity and innocence to the theme, which informs us of why Samuel anoints him as God’s chosen to be king. Lastly, we have the Desolation Theme, which speaks to Divine retribution by God against the people of Israel, which onscreen is portrayed as unrelenting desiccating sand storms, which lay the land to waste, bring famine, drought, starvation and death. It offers an eerie and tortured musical narrative by strings, interspersed with horn declarations of the Wrath of God fanfare.

“Main Title” offers a score highlight where Newman showcases his themes for love and war. The traditional Newman fanfare for 20th Century Fox studio logo has been replaced by dramatic and powerful statements of the Wrath of God Fanfare. At 0:13 we commence the roll of the opening credits, which is supported by the exotic allure of Bathsheba’s Theme whose seductive serpentine strings entice and arouse. At 1:19 we enter the film proper with narrative script, which informs us of the story of King David’s reign as chronicled in the Second Book of Samuel of the Old Testament. We are told of a war by the Israelites against the Ammonites, whose fortress at Rabbah they lay siege. Newman supports with an exposition of the war-like Israelite Theme, offered as a plodding marcia bellicoso empowered by horns and drums militare. At 1:55 we segue into “Night Camp” atop a diminuendo misterioso with muted horn remnants of the Israelite Theme. Joeb, the Commander of the army is angry after being informed that King David has left the camp on a scouting mission.

“The Battle of Rabbah” opens with dire strings and muted trumpets as Joeb orders one hundred of their best men be sent out to retrieve the king. He is furious at the king’s reckless behavior and horns irato voice that anger. At the base of the city walls, Newman sow tension with foreboding woodwinds and the muted trumpets of the Israelite Theme as King David and a soldier sneak into a water tunnel. At 0:44 dire horns sound the alarm as they are discovered, and trapped in the tunnel. Ammonites descend from the walls and a fight erupts as the one-hundred man rescue squad arrives to save the day. Newman supports the hand-to-hand battle with a horn empowered maelstrom of violence, joined by the war-like ferocity of the Israelite Theme. At 1:27 we segue into “The Israelites” atop a reserved rendering of the Israelite Theme as King David returns to camp, and joins Joeb in the command tent to eat and discuss his findings. At 2:09 the plodding Israelite Theme resumes with strength on drums as King David and his men discuss battle tactics, swelling with pride at 2:36 with King David’s Return to Jerusalem.

“Nathan, the Prophet” reveals the court usher announcing the arrival of God’s prophet to see King David who is holding court. He enters with a solemn statement of the Divine Theme, and we are graced with an extended religioso rendering as Nathan informs him the God does not require or request that a temple be built to house the Ark of the Covenant. King David, defers and accepts the revelation and then departs court. As he is departing in “Absalom”, a conflict arises between his two sons, Amnon his first-born heir, and Absalom regarding the ownership of land and vineyards. He renders judgment to Amnon, which angers Absalom, yet he takes him by the arm and departs carried by grim horns. He tells Absalom that Amnon by law is heir, and deserving of the land. When he states that Amnon is not fit, and that he would be a better king, King David counters that regardless of this, that he must follow the law. He gifts him the jeweled dagger gifted to him by the Pharaoh of Egypt to assuage his anger. As he departs, Absalom examines the dagger and we see the wheels turning in his mind. Newman supports the scene with a non-martial rendering of the Israelite Theme, draped with dark auras and an occult menace in the notes. “Michal and Bathsheba” was evidently attached to a scene edited out of the film. Indeed, there are no scenes in the film where the two women appear together. It provides a musical narrative of tension, with the second half of the cue offering an extended rendering of the seductive Bathsheba Theme.

“Michal and David Quarrel” (*) reveal him arriving at his chambers and finding Michal, spoiling for a fight. We see in the ensuing acrimony that David’s love for Michal, his first wife, has long passed and that all which remains is bitterness. Music enters atop a pathos for strings, filled with bitterness and resentment when he answers her demand of why he married her, and he states, it was for politics to unite the twelve tribes, not love. Grieving woodwinds full of despair join as Michal departs realizing there is nothing left between them. We close on low register strings irato as a riled King David takes refuge on his terrace. (*) “Bathsheba Bathing” reveals David gazing out from his terrace and discovering Bathsheba bathing below on her terrace. As we watch her bathe behind a screen, we are graced by the seductive allure of her string borne theme, which we see clearly arouses David, intensifying as the camera shifts to him. After she departs, her theme demurs, and shifts to woodwinds as we see David alone with his thoughts. The melody continues to meander like a night breeze when his servants arrive. As he washes for dinner, he asks Abishai about the house below and is informed that it belongs to Uriah and his wife Bathsheba. He informs them that he will award Uriah for his gallantry, but since he is at the front, will instead bestow it upon his wife. He orders Abishai to bring her to his chambers at once.

“Bathsheba’s Destiny” reveals her declining to dine with him saying she ate earlier. He probes and discovers that she has only spent six days with her husband in seven months. He bestows a ruby necklace for virtue, and then kisses her. She does not resist, and he states; “Now you know why I sent for you.” He says he will not take her by force, and dismisses her, praising her modesty. Yet music enters as she counters by offering him truth, that she has always been attracted to him, has desired him, and bathed on the terrace tonight knowing you would be watching. David responds amorously, and she promises him her love, but only as his wife, which implicitly means, he must remove Uriah, who is an impediment. Newman offers a score highlight where we are graced by exquisite interplay of Bathsheba’s seductive theme and the romanticism of the Love Theme, introduced here for the first time. They commit to love, with a molto romantico statement of the Love Theme as the scene ends with a kissing embrace.

“Love Scene/Shepherd and Lamb” offers a romantic score highlight, which introduces Young David’s Theme. It opens with a soliloquy by solo clarinet gentile as we see a young shepherd boy tending his flock. A slow pan of the camera takes us to David and Bathsheba who are on a romantic picnic, with kindred woodwinds joining the clarinet. As they kiss, the Love Theme joins on quivering strings d’amore. Her theme enters at 1:15 when she asks if he learned of life and love as a boy. As he speaks, which triggers more questions, the Love Theme rejoins on clarinet with harp adornment, and then blossoms on lush strings romantico. Yet the moment is lost at 2:40 when the shepherd boy arrives, carried by the English horn pastorale melody. He departs and at 2:58 the Young David Theme pastorale by woodwinds esotica unfolds as he tells stories of his sling-shot exploits as a young boy, where he killed several lions. As she watches him perform a demonstration using the boy’s slingshot, the Love Theme resumes, continuing the woodwind ambiance. He misses and at 3:37 a sardonic dance like musical narrative with tambourine accents unfolds as we see him chagrined as both Bathsheba and the boy smile. The boy then demonstrates his skill, adding insult to David’s wounded pride. At 4:26 he returns to Bathsheba and they depart. The sumptuous Love Theme carries their progress as she asks about his legendary slaying of Goliath. At 5:08 playful woodwinds support the discovery of a baby lamb, with the musical narrative becoming plaintive as David discovers the ewe entangled in the brush. The music becomes tender as he assists the old shepherd free her. At 6:12 the music brightens as the freed ewe rejoins her lamb. At 6:26 the music darkens with the Israelite Theme on grim horns as the shepherd veteran, who lost his right hand in battle, recalls the great battle of Gilboa where he witnessed King Saul die.

“The Battle of Gilboa” offers a profoundly moving score highlight where Newman’s music powerfully carries intense emotions in an extended scene devoid of dialogue. It reveals Bathsheba resting in a cottage as King David gazes up at the Gilboa mount. He is pensive and Newman uses strings tristi, abyssal woodwinds and drums funebre to evoke a profound sense of loss as he contemplates that terrible day. The musical pathos intensifies as he begins his ascent, becoming increasingly tortured and dissonant until a crescendo di orrore climaxes at 1:29 as he passes a shattered chariot. Newman sows a grieving pathos of loss as King David reaches the crest and looks around. The Israelite Theme joins at 2:14 with a molto tragico rendering. The music’s slowing, and descending contour speak of anguish, which culminates painfully with a crash of expiration as he picks up a broken sword. At 3:00 trumpets militare resound and unleash a maelstrom of militaristic orchestral violence as we hear the brutal sounds of the great battle raging in King David’s thoughts. It rages until severed at 4:07 when King David cries out “Jonathan!” Film scoring just does not get any better than this!

“Lament for Saul and Jonathan” offers another score highlight, where Newman’s music speaks to a profound sense of loss. A solo English horn affanato voices King David’s grief as he speaks aloud of to his boyhood friend Jonathan; “How have the mighty fallen in the midst of the battle”. We bear witness to King David’s lament, and great sorrow, which Newman supports with an aching threnody for the fallen. The musical artistry for this scene is sublime. “Countryside” was evidently attached to a love scene between David and Bathsheba that was edited out of the film. The cue features a beautiful rendering of the Love Theme. “The Gates of Jerusalem/The Ark of the Covenant” reveals a caravan led by Nathan that bears the sacred ark of the covenant, approaching the main gate of Jerusalem. Drums maestoso usher in the Israelite Theme rendered as an exotic danza festosa buttressed with horns orgogliose and tambourine embellishment. At 1:32 the theme shifts to a grander rendering empowered by horns maestoso as King David and Bathsheba arrive by chariot. The music is sustained as an adulteress is stoned under the city walls as King David watches, cognizant of his own brazen adultery. He orders Abishai to drive Bathsheba home, and then walks out to greet Nathan.

“Wrath of God” reveals Nathan forbidding King David to touch the sacred ark, declaring that God will strike down those with profane, unconsecrated hands that dare to touch it. King David defers, and the ark resumes its procession, yet a rut in the road causes the wagon to shift and the ark begins to topple off. A soldier intervenes, pushes the ark upright, and falls dead. Dire chords resound as King David kneels by the dead man. At 0:22 a lamentation unfolds with the Divine Theme as Nathan declares all to bear witness to the power, and wrath of God. Sorrowful women’s wordless choir joins for solemn rendering of the theme, which ends with grieving trumpet calls. Nathan orders the ark to remain where it is, secured in a tabernacle, until God, who is aggrieved, grants permission for its entry into the city.

The music is pensive in “On the Terrace”, another stellar score highlight where Newman masterfully expresses one of the most emotional scenes of the film. We see a contemplative King David alone on his terrace, surprised by the arrival of Bathsheba. The music darkens, and becomes foreboding atop woodwinds doloroso and string chords as she tells him that she brings bad news that she is with child, news that will expose them to the people as law breakers. At 0:40 the music brightens as he is welcoming of the news. A warm, and comforting Love Theme joins as he takes her into a kissing embrace. Yet it is fleeting and the musical narrative assumes a contour of sadness borne by aching strings affanato as she tells him that his kingship will not protect her from the law of Moses. The music darkens full of ill-purpose as he proposes arranging for Uriah’s death on the battlefield, yet she will have none of it, her refusal supported by strings doloroso. At 3:16 Abishai interrupts the moment and as King David goes to meet him, strings seducenti emote Bathsheba’s Theme, which darkens as he commands Abishai to hold the military communique, as he may wish to add to it. King David relents and says he will order Uriah home for leave so as to give cover to her pregnancy. She now says as your wife, this request is unworthy of you. Throughout this dialogue a molto tragico musical narrative unfolds embellished by repeated portentous muted trumped calls. He again embraces her at 4:33 empowered by the ardor of the Love Theme, which culminates with exquisite beauty atop a solo violin d’amore.

“Palace Dance” reveals King David hosting a banquet in honor of Uriah with entertainment provided by a seductive woman dancer. Newman supports with an energetic danza esotica with rich ethnic orchestration. At 0:23 the dance transforms into a more subtle and alluring expression, only to explode at 0:41 with a more frenzied and seductive expression. At 0:59 the energy dissipates, replaced by an eroticism clearly directed towards Uriah, whose wine goblet King David keeps filling. We conclude at 1:42 with a fiery danza festosa, with King David hoping Uriah is sufficiently aroused to make love to Bathsheba and provide cover when she reveals her pregnancy. Afterwards in an unscored scene, King David and Uriah converse and it becomes clear, Uriah places his duty and career over his duties as a husband. The king suggests he see and attend to Bathsheba’s needs, as a woman requires love from her husband. He then dismisses Uriah, who asks a favor, that he order Joeb to place him on the front line where he can earn honor slaying the enemy.

“Early Dawn” opens grimly after Uriah’s exit, the King realizing he has just been given an opportunity to place Uriah in harm’s way and remove the only impediment to marrying Bathsheba. At 0:12 eerie violins and foreboding bass support the main gate of Jerusalem in the early dawn. At 0:25 the musical narrative darkens as Michal enters the king’s chambers. She sees him agitated and pacing on the terrace supported by the Love Theme. He is clearly agitated and angry at the thought of Uriah making love to Bathsheba, yet also knows he needs this to protect her. The Love Theme’s expression reflects this inner conflict as Newman entwines love and anger. At 1:23 Bathsheba’s Theme is given voice as he gazes at her terrace below.

“The Fate of Uriah” as he enters his bed chamber, he is confronted by Michal who reveals that she knows of his affair, and that the child Bathsheba carries is his. He denies it, yet when she reveals Uriah did not sleep with Bathsheba, but instead slept in the officer’s quarters of the palace he becomes enraged. Music enters, as he throws her aside, and storms out with an angry variant of the Love Theme propelling him. Dire horns carry him through the palace to the officer’s quarters where an agitato by horns and bass support as he uses a lamp to find Uriah. Uriah explains that he took an oath to deny himself carnal pleasure until such time that the enemy Ammonites at Rabbah are destroyed. King David leaves angry, calling Uriah a fool and carried by the muted trumpet and bass agitato. He orders Abishai to bring the dispatch orders to him and at 1:43 a dire Wrath of God fanfare resounds as he commands him to add orders that Uriah is to be placed in the forefront of the hottest battle, and then abandoned to the enemy. At 2:54 Abishai departs and King David returns to his terrace, unaware that Michal, who lay on his bed, overheard the conversation. Aggrieved strings speak to her anguish and abandonment. At 3:09 a hopeful Love Theme enters as he gazes at her terrace below. It blossoms as she wakes, suggesting she is aware of his gaze, and concludes with her seductive theme as King David accepts that there is now, no turning back. The next day at 3:51, King David receives news of Israel’s victory, as well as their loses, with Uriah’s name being on the list. A foreboding Wrath of God Theme with muted trumpet militare counters underscores the news of Uriah’s death and King David’s decision to ride to Rabbah to accept its surrender. At 4:24 a tortured rendering of the Love Theme unfolds as King David commands Abishai to inform Bathsheba that Uriah is dead, and that he will marry her after her thirty days of mourning. At 5:01 we shift to the windswept desert as we see shepherds overcome by the blowing dust, which has poisoned their well, and Nathan declaring to King David that he will visit drought and famine on the land of Israel, as they have sinned. Newman supported with a tortured rendering of the Desolation Theme.

“Destiny and Sorrow” offers a beautifully written passage for woodwinds. It reveals Bathsheba being attended to be her retinue of servants, who dress her in a resplendent wedding gown and crown. Newman creates a perfect ambiance, gracing us with a beautiful tête-à-tête between clarinet and oboe. Yet at 0:39 as King David arrives and dismisses the servants, the music sours and a sad musical narrative unfolds as she criticizes him for abandoning her for weeks. She wants to call off the wedding, believing her no longer loves her. Yet at 2:10 he declares his undying love for her empowered by the Love Theme, which wins her heart and blossoms as he kisses her. At 3:08 the Israelite Theme is rendered as a processionale maestoso empowered with horns reale as King David escorts Bathsheba to the wedding altar. At 3:35 the eerie Desolation Theme supports scenes of shepherds being buffeted by the unrelenting dust storm as their sheep collapse from lack of water, and people across Israel also suffering famine and drought. At 5:01 strings religioso full of sorrow support examination of Bathsheba’s son by physicians, whom they declare is soon to die. They advise the king come at once. A woodwind narrative of sorrow supports Abishai advising the king, who is praying on his terrace, that his son’s death is imminent. At 5:22 he arrives and a Pathetique by strings affanato and wailing woodwinds supports his informing Bathsheba of his prayers and self-deprivation, which have been to no avail. With this admission the baby dies at 6:10 and a woodwind borne lamentation unfolds. At 6:50 aching strings affanato support his resignation to the death of his son, joined by a grieving rendering of the Love Theme, so full of sorrow as he comforts Bathsheba. At 7:48 as he departs to meet with the Egyptian ambassador, oboe triste and wailing women’s choir voice a threnody, joined later by a grieving Love Theme, for the king’s terrible loss. At 9:17 a musical narrative unfolds as tension, sadness and futility entwine, as the Egyptian ambassador declares Pharoah has no wheat available to feed Israel, which elicits a harsh rebuke from King David, and his dismissal. At 10:04 a dire rendering of the Israelite Theme supports the arrival of Nathan and an angry mob.

Nathan tricks King David into revealing his sin. He atones, yet when Nathan says Bathsheba must pay the price for her adultery, He vigorously defends her and challenges the crowd to bear witness of her adultery publicly. None do so, and we see him relieved, until Nathan summons Michal and Absalom. In “Michal and Absalom” dark and dire abyssal woodwinds support their approach, from which King David cannot recover. Dire horns of damnation join and usher in an aching oboe affanato as we see him pained that his son hates him. At 0:52 the Wrath of God fanfare resounds as Nathan orders King David to bring Bathsheba forth for judgment, lest he unleash the mob to do so. At 1:12 Newman sow sadness as Bashai and Bathsheba wait alone in the king’s chambers. At 1:29 King David arrives and orders Bashai to fetch horses so they can escape, yet it is for naught as an angry mob has surrounded the palace. The Wrath of God Theme resounds and portends their doom, joined by a fleeting utterance of the Love Theme, which succumbs to the now irresistible Wrath of God Theme. In (*) “The Confession” Bathsheba admits she is complicit in their sin as she wished Uriah dead, counseling that God sees into their hearts. She declares her readiness to accept God’s judgment. She grabs a harp off the wall and asks him to play something from his boyhood as a shepherd for her. He plays a pensive variant of the Israelite Theme, as he is now resigned to their fate. He then prays the 23rd Psalm, which he wrote as a boy as an act of contrition and atonement, with harp adornment.

“Young David” reveals him reminiscing of how he believed in those words as a boy supported by the Young David woodwind pastorale. As he continues his reminiscence and long-lost belief in God, the musical narrative takes on solemnity as we are bathed in religioso auras. The music slowly transitions to bitterness as he voices his sadness and regret at losing his belief in God, who now seems to be devoid of mercy, as the Wrath of God Theme chords resound. “You Shall Not Die” reveals David declaring “You shall not die!”, and taking Bathsheba into his arms for a passionate kiss, supported by a fervent Love Theme. At 0:20 trumpets militare resound as King David exits and issues orders to Abishai and his personal guard to bar the door and cut down anyone who attempts to enter. The trumpet motif joins with a forceful quote of the Israelite Theme as the soldiers take up defensive positions.

“King David” reveals King David declaring he will not surrender Bathsheba. Nathan holds back the angry mob, declaring that David is your king. King David declares his intention to go to the tabernacle to hear God’s judgment directly, not from Nathan. Nathan then reproaches King David for abandoning God, but then declares if he renews his faith in God, and submits to his will, then he will find mercy. As King David departs, a dramatic and dark processionale solenne draped in religioso auras carries his bold walk through the angry mob for a fateful meeting with God. At 0:48 horns nobile support Nathan’s departure and walk to join King David at the tabernacle, building slowing and solemnly on the Wrath of God Theme rendered as a crescendo dramatico. At 1:19 a declaration of the Wrath of God Theme by dire horns di giudizio resound as King David arrives at the tabernacle and pauses at its entrance. Solemn horns dramatico crest powerfully at 1:40 as Nathan lifts up his staff, and we see a deferential King David enter the tabernacle. At 1:48 Newman bathes us in solemnity of the Divine Theme with muted horns reverenziali as King David passes through the outer chamber, and with humility enters the Holy of Holies to behold the glistening Ark of the Covenant. He kneels with his head bowed and forthrightly acknowledges his failings, confesses his sins, accepts responsibility for all the evil he has committed. He then begs God to lift his vengeance from the people of Israel who suffer on account of his sins, to show mercy and kindness by allowing Bathsheba to live, and visit punishment solely on him, who is responsible. He then asks him to remember the young shepherd boy who loved him, and take now his life as punishment for his sins.

In “Jesse and Samuel” as he leans forward and touches the ark, horns dramatico resound as lightning flashes with thunder. The Young David Theme’s tender woodwind pastorale with harp adornment supports a flashback to David tending his flock as a boy. His brother relieves him and informs him that Samuel the prophet is visiting in search of a king, and that father commands that you return home. At 0:39 a solemn rendering of the Divine Theme supports Samuel examining Jesse’s three eldest sons and declaring none of them has God chosen. At 1:14 the theme gains strength and joins with Young David’s Theme as David arrives and is examined by Samuel. At 1:35 horns solenne sound as Samuel lays his hands on the boy and declares that the Lord has chosen. As he anoints David with holy oil strings reverenziali support with the Divine Theme. At 2:06 dire horns resound as we shift to a war tent where David hears a man bellow, “Where is your champion Hebrews!” A grim musical narrative unfolds as King Saul solicits a man to volunteer, and all cower, afraid to fight the Philistine behemoth Goliath. David however audaciously volunteers and is granted permission by Saul, who does not believe in Samuel’s prophecy that David is destined to be the next king. The film must have been edited as we shift to the Goliath cue after 2:05.

In “Goliath”, dire horns resound and unleash a menacing musical narrative as we see the behemoth standing in no man’s land between the two opposing armies. Sardonic horns join as he berates the Hebrews for sending a mere boy to fight him. The dire musical narrative continues as Saul tells his son Jonathan that Samuel’s prophecy will soon be proven false when David is slain. At 0:41 the music surges with terror as Goliath throws the first of three spears, with the first two missing. David falls and the third spear pierces his tunic and pins him to the ground. While Goliath turns away and boasts, David unpins himself and readies his sling shot. At 1:32 the music climaxes as Goliath turns around, and David fires a lethal rock strike that pierces Goliath’s forehead. A chord of death at 1:35 supports Goliath falling dead. A paean of celebration atop a triumphant Israelite Theme supports the Hebrew victory as the soldiers cheer. At 1:59 we return to the present with King David communing with the ark, supported by the horns reverenziali of the Divine Theme. When he pulls back from the ark, he hears the sound of falling rain upon the tent.

King David departs transformed, and thankful to God’s Mercy in “The Twenty-Third Psalm”. As he exits the Holy of Holies, and then the tabernacle, we are offered a magnificent score highlight, which features a mixed choir of fifty-six voices singing a solemn, Hebraic, and religioso rendering of Psalm 23. The Psalm carries King David to Bathsheba at the palace where he takes her hand and they walk to the terrace to celebrate the joy of God’s gift of cleansing rain.

I would like to commend Bruce Kimmel, the late Nick Redman, and Kritzerland for the release of Alfred Newman’s masterpiece “David and Bathsheba”. The mixing, editing and mastering of the original dual track 35mm optical film by Mike Matessino was masterful and we are provided and excellent stereophonic listening experience. Although Alfred Newman was not a devout, practicing Jew, throughout his career he demonstrated the gift for composing profoundly moving music for religious themed films such as The Song of Bernadette, The Keys to the Kingdom, The Robe, and The Greatest Story Ever Told. For this film six primary themes are provided with many scenes offering sublime thematic interplay. The sexually arousing Bathsheba Theme offers one of the finest seductress themes in cinematic history, while his sumptuous and often rapturous Love Theme is one of the finest in his canon. The solemn and religioso Divine Theme permeates the soundscape, with its Wrath of God fanfare used powerfully with great effect. But the film’s religious apogee is achieved in the finale with his composition for the 23rd Psalm, a composition where voice, melody and the spoken word achieve a sublime confluence. In scene after scene, we are deeply moved by his music, which enhanced Henry King’s storytelling. The music for “Battle of Gilboa”, where he carries the dialogue free scene for almost five minutes, expressing powerful emotions of regret, loss and lamentation, was just exceptional. In “On The Terrace” the heartache of Bathsheba’s revelation to David that she is pregnant, and the reassurance of his love with the love theme was profoundly moving. Folks, this score is yet another testament to Newman’s genius, and mastery of his craft. I believe Newman merited his Academy Award nomination, that this score is one of the finest in his canon, and highly recommend the purchase of this quality album.

For those of you unfamiliar with the score, I have embedded a YouTube link to the “On the Terrace” track; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=No0RgEg6vHU

Buy the David and Bathsheba soundtrack from the Movie Music UK Store

Track Listing:

  • Main Title/Night Camp (2:39)
  • The Battle of Rabbah/The Israelites (2:57)
  • Nathan, the Prophet (1:20)
  • Absalom (1:12)
  • Michal and Bathsheba (5:22)
  • Bathsheba’s Destiny (3:22)
  • Love Scene/Shepherd and Lamb (7:03)
  • The Battle of Gilboa (4:07)
  • Lament for Saul and Jonathan (1:32)
  • Countryside (1:06)
  • The Gates of Jerusalem/The Ark of the Covenant (3:12)
  • Wrath of God (1:31)
  • On the Terrace (5:18)
  • Palace Dance (2:16)
  • Early Dawn (1:43)
  • The Fate of Uriah (6:14)
  • Destiny and Sorrow (10:33)
  • Michal and Absalom (2:15)
  • Young David (2:36)
  • You Shall Not Die (1:08)
  • King David (2:35)
  • Jesse and Samuel (3:26)
  • Goliath (2:26)
  • The Twenty-Third Psalm (2:42)

Running Time: 78 minutes 38 seconds

Kritzerland Records KR 200023 (1951/2012)

Music composed and conducted by Alfred Newman. Orchestrations by Edward B. Powell and Earle Hagen. Recorded and mixed by XXXX. Score produced by Alfred Newman. Album produced by Bruce Kimmel and Nick Redman.

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