Tone Poem Tuesday

 A strange and small subgenre popped up in the middle of the 20th century, called the “Tabloid Concerto”. These were entire classical works composed specifically for use in film. Not film music per se, with individual tracks written specifically to hew to the rhythm and length of specific scenes, but entire works to be used in the films themselves. The first, and probably best known example of this, is Richard Addinsell’s Warsaw Concerto, written for the 1941 film Dangerous Moonlight, which is about a concert pianist and composer who must fight in World War II. Needing a classical work to tie the film together musically, but wanting to avoid the specific associations of pre-existing (and well known) classical works, the producers decided to have composer Addinsell write a single movement, which has gone on to be known as the Warsaw Concerto (the composer in the film is a Pole) and has made the leap to the concert repertoire.

I’ll return to the Warsaw Concerto later on (maybe next week!), but this business of writing concert works for use in a film became a small genre in its own right, and a number of the great composers of the “Golden Age” of film music produced works like this, including Miklos Rozsa’s Spellbound Concerto, written for the Hitchcock film Spellbound. Unlike the Addinsell work, the Rozsa Concerto wasn’t written for specific use in Spellbound but was crafted from the film’s themes and cues later on, but it still falls into that same category: a single-movement work of throbbing romanticism in the great Hollywood style.

This performance is a dated one, but it is thrilling and vibrant, featuring the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra conducted by the composer, and with great pianist (and native Buffalonian!) Leonard Pennario as soloist. Enjoy!

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1 Response to Tone Poem Tuesday

  1. Roger Owen Green says:

    I was unfamiliar with the phenimenon. Way cool.

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