July 27, 2017

20,000 Vinyl LPs 99: Miklós Rózsa ~ Spellbound by 10"

10" vinyl LP album, cover detail
detail photo by Styrous®

Miklós Rózsa (Hungarian: [ˈmikloːʃ ˈroːʒɒ]; died on this day, Thursday, July 27, in 1995. He was a Hungarian composer trained in Germany (1925–1931), and active in France (1931–1935), England (1935–1940), and the United States (1940–1995), with extensive sojourns in Italy from 1953.   

10" vinyl LP album, back cover detail 
album photo by Ned Scott
detail photo by Styrous®

Rózsa is best known for his nearly one hundred film scores, with Spellbound one of the top; however, he maintained an allegiance to absolute concert music throughout what he called his "double life."   

 10" vinyl LP album cover detail
detail photo by Styrous®

The 1945 Alfred Hitchcock mystery/suspense film, Spellbound, dealt with the new field of psychoanalysis and the inner workings of the human mind. It opens with a quote from the 1599 Julius Caesar (play), by William Shakespeare, "The Fault... is Not in Our Stars, But in Ourselves..." and announces that it wishes to highlight the virtues of psychoanalysis in banishing mental illness and restoring reason.   

10"vinyl LP album cover detail 
detail photo by Styrous®


The film stars Ingrid Bergman, Gregory Peck, Michael Chekhov and Leo G. Carroll. It is an adaptation by Angus MacPhail and Ben Hecht of the novel The House of Dr. Edwardes (1927) by Hilary Saint George Saunders and John Palmer.  

10" vinyl LP album cover 
   Artwork by Gunall
detail photo by Styrous®
There was major contention between director Alfred Hitchcock and producer David O. Selznick. Selznick wanted Hitchcock to make a movie based upon Selznick's own positive experience with psychoanalysis.  Selznick brought in his therapist, May Romm M.D., who was credited in the film as a technical adviser. Romm and Hitchcock clashed frequently. Further contention was caused by the hiring of surrealist artist Salvador Dalí to conceive certain scenes in the film's key dream sequence. However, the sequence conceived and designed by Dalí and Hitchcock, once translated to film, proved to be too lengthy and too complicated, so the vast majority of what was filmed was cut from the film during editing. About two minutes of the dream sequence appear in the final film, but Ingrid Bergman said that the sequence had been almost 20 minutes long before it was cut by Selznick. The cut footage apparently no longer exists, although some production stills have survived in the Selznick archives. Eventually Selznick hired William Cameron Menzies, who had worked on Gone With the Wind, to oversee the set designs and to direct the sequence. Hitchcock himself had very little to do with its actual filming.  

dream sequence based on designs
(as Salvador Dali) 
movie still

Selznick originally wanted the brilliant Bernard Herrmann, but when Herrmann turned it down, Rózsa was hired and won the Academy Award for his score. Although Rózsa considered Spellbound to contain some of his best work, he said "Alfred Hitchcock didn't like the music — said it got in the way of his direction. I never saw him since."   

Miklós Rózsa ~ Spellbound
 10" vinyl LP album back cover 
album photo by Ned Scott
photo of album cover by Styrous®
During the film's protracted post-production, considerable disagreement arose about the music, exacerbated by a lack of communication between producer, director, and composer. Rózsa scored another film, The Lost Weekend, before Spellbound was released, and he again used the theremin in that score. This led to allegations that he had recycled music from Selznick's film in the Paramount production. Meanwhile, Selznick's assistant tampered with the Spellbound scoring by replacing some of Rózsa's material with earlier music by Franz Waxman and Roy Webb.     

 10" vinyl LP album cover detail
detail photo by Styrous®
The film orchestral score by Miklós Rózsa is notable for its pioneering use of the theremin, performed by Dr. Samuel Hoffmann. The score features one of the earliest uses of the theremin. The sound of the instrument, which had been invented in 1928, would become associated indelibly with science fiction thanks to its use in films like The Day The Earth Stood Still. But the instrument originally got its start in Hollywood (it had been used in the scores to some Russian films like the 1931, Odna) thanks to the score for Spellbound. It was played by Dr. Samuel Hoffman, a medical doctor who had a sideline as one of the most important practicioners of the instrument, later playing on the scores for The Thing From Another World, It Came From Outer Space, The 5000 Fingers Of Dr. T and The Ten Commandments.     

Leonard Slatkin did a stellar performance of the Spellbound Concerto with the BBC Orchestra, Simon Mulligan on Piano, and Celia Sheen playing the theremin (link below). It's over 12 minutes but worth every second! It's fantastic!      

 10" vinyl LP album cover detail
detail photo by Styrous®

In a nutshell, Ingrid Bergman (link below) stars as Dr. Constance Petersen, a psychoanalyst, and Gregory Peck (link below) plays Dr. Anthony Edwardes who has come to replace the director, (Leo G. Carroll), of  Green Manors, a mental hospital, who is being forced into retirement. However, Petersen (Bergman) suspects Edwardes (Peck) is an imposter and the plot thickens. 

 10" vinyl LP album back cover detail
album photo by Ned Scott
detail photo by Styrous®

Miklós Rózsa was born on the 18th of April, 1907, in Budapest to Jewish parents. He achieved early success in Europe with his orchestral Theme, Variations, and Finale (Op. 13) of 1933 and became prominent in the film industry from such early scores as The Four Feathers (1939) and The Thief of Bagdad (1940). The latter project brought him to America when production was transferred from wartime Britain, and Rózsa remained in the United States, becoming an American citizen in 1946. His notable Hollywood career earned him considerable fame, including Academy Awards for Spellbound (1945), A Double Life (1947), and Ben-Hur (1959), while his concert works were championed by such major artists as Jascha Heifetz, Gregor Piatigorsky, and János Starker.

 10" vinyl LP album back cover detail
album photo by Ned Scott
detail photo by Styrous®

Rózsa was introduced to classical and folk music by his mother, Regina Berkovits, a pianist who had studied with pupils of Franz Liszt, and his father, Gyula, a well-to-do industrialist and landowner who loved Hungarian folk music. Rózsa's maternal uncle Lajos Berkovits, violinist with the Budapest Opera, presented young Miklós with his first instrument at the age of five.

He enrolled at the University of Leipzig in 1925, ostensibly to study chemistry at the behest of his father. Determined to become a composer, he transferred to the Leipzig Conservatory the following year; there, he studied composition with Hermann Grabner, a former student of Max Reger. He also studied choral music with (and later assisted) Karl Straube at the Thomaskirche, where Johann Sebastian Bach had been organist.        

Miklós Rózsa ~ Spellbound
 10" vinyl LP album back cover detail
detail photo by Styrous®

Rózsa's first two published works, the String Trio, Op. 1, and the Piano Quintet, Op. 2, were issued in Leipzig by Breitkopf & Härtel. In 1929 he received his diplomas cum laude. For a time he remained in Leipzig as Grabner's assistant, but at the suggestion of the French organist and composer Marcel Dupré, he moved to Paris in 1932.    

The Trio is beautiful and flows just by virtue of the strings. The quintet is as hard and disjointed as the Trio is soft and almost dreamy; they make a nice pair (links below).   

Rózsa was introduced to film music in 1934 by the Swiss composer Arthur Honegger. Following a concert which featured their respective compositions, Honegger mentioned that he supplemented his income as a composer of film scores, including the film Les Misérables (1934). Rózsa went to see it and was greatly impressed by the opportunities the film medium offered, and thought, "A HA!"    

Miklós Rózsa ~ Spellbound
 10" vinyl LP album back cover detail
detail photo by Styrous®

His first film score was for Knight Without Armour (1937), produced by fellow Hungarian, Alexander Korda. After his next score, for Thunder in the City (1937), he joined the staff of the Korda London Films, and scored the studio's epic The Four Feathers (1939).        

In 1939, Rózsa travelled with Korda to Hollywood to complete the work on The Thief of Bagdad (1940) The film earned him his first Academy Award nomination. A further two followed with Lydia (1940) and Sundown (1941). In 1943, he received his fourth nomination for the Korda film, Jungle Book (1942).      

Miklós Rózsa ~ Spellbound
 10" vinyl LP album back cover detail
detail photo by Styrous®

Rózsa earned another Oscar nomination for scoring The Killers (1946) which introduced Burt Lancaster to film audiences. Part of the famed theme for the Dragnet radio and TV show duplicated part of Rozsa's The Killers main theme; Rózsa sued for damages, and subsequently was given co-credit for the Dragnet theme.    

 10" vinyl LP label, side 1
detail photo by Styrous®
His popular film scores during the 1970s included his last two Billy Wilder collaborations The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes (1970) and Fedora (1978), the Ray Harryhausen fantasy sequel The Golden Voyage of Sinbad (1973), the latter-day film noir Last Embrace starring Roy Scheider, and the time-travel fantasy film Time After Time (1979) for which Rózsa won a Science Fiction Film Award, saying in his televised acceptance speech that owith f all the film scores he had ever composed, it was the one he had worked on the hardest.     

 10" vinyl LP label, side 2
detail photo by Styrous®

Miklós Rózsa died at the Good Samaritan Hospital in  Los Angeles, California, on Thursday, the 27th of July, 1995. He was 88 years old.     


Side 1:

A1     Spellbound Concerto - 12:19 

Side 2:

          The Red House    
B1     Prelude - 3:15  
B2     Screams In The Night - 2:54  
B3     The Forest - 3:37  
B4     Retribution - 3:33  


    Artwork – Gunall*
    Salvador Dalí dream sequence based on designs by (as Salvador Dali).     
    Conductor – Erich Kloss (tracks: A1), Miklós Rózsa (tracks: Miklos Rozsa)
    Orchestra – Frankenland State Orchestra Of Nürnberg* (tracks: A1)


Dark red label with silver print.

Miklós Rózsa* ‎– Spellbound Concerto -- The Red House
Label: Capitol Records ‎– L-453
Format: Vinyl, LP, 10", Album
Country: US
Released: 1953
Genre: Stage & Screen
Style: Score

Viewfinder links:    
Gregory Peck ~ Mr Suave       
Ingrid Bergman ~ The shy lion          
Net links:    
New York Times Spellbound review              
Rózsa film scoring career       
New York Times Rózsa obit            
YouTube links:    
Miklos Rozsa: Spellbound -     
         Spellbound (1945) (complete movie)   
                Main Theme      
                Official Trailer      
                Salvador Dali Dream Sequence        
                Skiing Breakthrough   
Leonard Slatkin ~ Spellbound Concerto (time: 12' 12")     

Miklos Rozsa        
              Theme, Variations, and Finale (Op. 13)     
              String Trio, Op. 1     
              Piano Quintet in F Minor, Op. 2    

The Fault... is Not in Our Stars,
But in Ourselves...

                      — William Shakespeare

Styrous® ~ Thursday, July 27, 2017      

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