Alfred Newman: The Seven-Year Itch

Collection of Hollywood composer and conductor Newman's film scores includes the title film and Love Is A Many Splendored Thing

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This release has had money spent on it, not least on the glossy, 16-page booklet, containing no less than 14 illustrations, yet bizarrely, not even a footnote on the performers. This means, of course, that rather than supply data in the discography, I shall have to do some educated guesswork right here.

It’s almost certain that all the music on this album was recorded between 1941 and 1955 on the soundstage at 20th Century Fox by the studio orchestra conducted by Alfred Newman, who also composed the scores of the six non-musical films featured on this album.

This album is redolent of what the more romantic reader may refer to as Hollywood’s “Golden Age”, a time when every major studio employed resident composers to write background or incidental music for every genre – drama, thriller, comedy, western, semi-documentary – and a resident orchestra of anything up to a hundred musicians to record it. For out-and-out musicals the studios also had resident composers and lyric writers.

In time these more dramatic composers began to acquire a following so that by the 1970s two record shops opened in London able to exist mainly by selling soundtrack recordings. As one whose music of choice includes one word for every crotchet, I belonged to the school of thought that reasoned that if the audience were aware of the music in a drama, thriller, western, etc, then the creative team – screenwriter, director, actors – were not getting it right, but I had more than one friend who collected Erich Wolfgang Korngold, Franz Waxman, Max Steiner, et al the way I myself collected Cole Porter, Frank Loesser and their cohorts.

In this milieu Alfred Newman was at the forefront, winning no less than nine Academy Awards for best score of a motion picture. In 1931 he scored Street Scene for Samuel Goldman, turning out a score evocative of Manhattan that was subsequently used in a host of 20th Century Fox productions set in that locale. In addition he composed the instantly recognisable fanfare that played behind their logo of constantly moving searchlights.

This CD includes the soundtracks for six of the films he scored for Fox in a 14-year period and runs the gamut through comedy, romance, drama and period drama, demonstrating his mastery of every genre. Presumably those who have a penchant for this kind of music will own the individual soundtracks separately. For others there are a couple of longer moments – The Girl Upstairs, A Many-Splendored Thing – that work as stand-alone segments; otherwise we are listening to music written to a stopwatch. On the whole I’m glad I heard it.

[It might have some jazz in it, but who knows? – Ed]


Discography
[The Seven Year Itch] Main Title; The Wolves Of Manhattan; The Tomato Upstairs; Dinner And A Movie; The Kiss; Down The Stairs; What A Girl Really Wants; Leaving For The Country; End Title; [Love Is A Many Splendored Thing] Main Title; Night Scene – Falling In Love; Beach Scene – Swimming Across The Bay; Death And Finale; [Leave Her To Heaven] Main Title; Train Music; Night Scene – Spreading The Ashes; Warm Springs – Danny; Newlyweds – First Dinner; Eleen And Danny On The Lake; Bar Harbor – Dick’s Suspicions; Windy Day – Jealousy; Eleen’s Plan – Fall Down The Stairs; The Letter – Poison; Finale; [Captain From Castile] Prelude / Pedro De Vargas, Captain From Castile; Catana, The Young Peasant Girl; Lady Luisa / Juan The Adventurer; Magic Ring / Fears Of Persecution / Compassionate Priest; Fulfilment Of The New World (Catana’s Love); Conquest; [How Green Was My Valley] Theme; [All About Eve] Main Title (79.10)
Alfred Newman (cond). Hollywood, 1941-55.
Soundtrack Factory 606356