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 Posted:   Nov 14, 2004 - 7:45 PM   
 By:   Recordman   (Member)

One of the most recognizable and majestic “Main Title” soundtrack cues and score is Alfred Newman’s from the 1963 Cinerama epic, “How the West Was Won.” I’m sure most of you have it in your collection, if you don’t (shame, shame)...run out right now and buy it in the great 2CD expanded 1997 score release from Rhino. Yet, most of us don’t know the actual convoluted history which led to the film and Newman’s great score that resides on your shelf.
In its April 6, 1959 edition (see photo below), “Life” magazine commenced a multi-part, colorful series on the history of the American West, its story, legends and art. The series was well received but it lacked one thing that could not be reproduced in the magazine...the music and songs.
That was remedied in 1960 when RCA released a beautiful, hardcover gatefold, 2 record LP album (RCA LOP/LSO-6070) titled “How the West Was Won” (“Suggested by the Series of Articles in LIFE Magazine.”) (See photo below). The album contained a colorful 24 page booklet, featuring some of the original LIFE photos, and contained older American western and folk songs of the 19th Century, including performances by Bing Crosby, Rosemary Clooney, The Tarrytown Trio, The Morman Tabernacle Choir, Jimmie Driftwood, The Jack Hallloran Singers, The Desert Mormon Choir and Sam Hinton. It was orchestrated and conducted by Bob Thompson. I wouldn’t call this album rare these days, but it is very hard to find.
Finally, the subject matter was itself ripe for the large scale Cinerama film process and the film, “How the West Was Won” was released in 1962, with the now familiar score by Alfred Newman on MGM LP 1E5/1SE5 (see photo below). The soundtrack also featured many fine period songs with Ken Darby’s help as well, along with several vocals by Debbie Reynolds.
So, there it is, from a 25 cent magazine, to studiotrack record, to film, to LP soundtrack, to CD soundtrack, to a well deserved high place in soundtrack history.
Mike


 
 Posted:   Nov 15, 2004 - 2:39 AM   
 By:   Dana Wilcox   (Member)

Interesting story, and yet another reason to appreciate the many contributions of LIFE magazine to the American culture. Alfred Newman's music (with Ken Darby's assistance) is arguably the richest Americana score ever composed, and always a joy to hear.

Thanks to recordman for the background.

 
 
 Posted:   Nov 15, 2004 - 10:57 AM   
 By:   Thor   (Member)

Like most real film score fans, I have the Rhino 2CD set, and am pleased with it. Some of the folksy songs DO get a bit gratuitous eventually, but this soundtrack is really great in smaller doses.

 
 
 Posted:   Nov 15, 2004 - 12:09 PM   
 By:   joan hue   (Member)

Great background information. Thank you. I think Newman's main theme is one of the finest ever composed. What a rousing opening. I never tire of this music.

(Recordman is healed! Note this wasn't listed as How The Westh Wath Won by Thunewan.wink)

 
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