The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm (The Music)

Leigh Harline incorporated Bob Merrill’s songs and themes into the underscoring for The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm, as well as contributing much original music of his own. To keep track of who wrote what, we have included the name(s) of the composer(s) listed on the film’s legal cue sheet in parentheses after each cue title.

1. Overture (Harline/Merrill)
A French horn fanfare begins the overture, which plays against a bucolic backdrop of the Bavarian countryside with Neuschwanstein Castle in the distance. Harline incorporates the melodies for Merrill’s “Dancing Princess” waltz and “Above the Stars.”
2. Emblem (Harline)
An ascending string motive underscores the roar of Leo the Lion before a cymbal crash announces the title cards for the M-G-M/Cinerama partnership and George Pal’s production company.
Napoleonic Field Music (Harline)
Trumpet battle calls, cannon shots and snare drums accompany marching troops and brief battle scenes with a voiceover placing the story in Napoleonic times. The snare drums fade while the camera flies over Rothenburg ob der Tauber and Weikersheim Castle as the voiceover informs us that a “soft and gentle” sound has “echoed down the years, long after the guns have stilled and the battles forgotten. If you listen closely, you can hear it, now.”
3. Main Title (Merrill)
In the ornate library of a duke, Wilhelm and Jacob Grimm (Laurence Harvey and Karl Boehm) are busy at their writing desks. The title of the film appears, marked by the four pickup notes of Merrill’s carefree “Wonderful World” theme on zither. Accompanied by pizzicato strings, harpsichord joins the fun as the cast credits for the three fairy tales appear on the pages of a book. A whistler engages in a musical conversation with the harpsichord, until all three voices unite to close out the joyful cue. (This track includes a revised opening as heard in the film; see disc 2, track 15 for Harline’s original.)
4. Street Scene No. 1 (Harline/Merrill)
The duke’s servant, Gruber (Ian Wolfe), catches Wilhelm working on a fairy tale rather than the duke’s family history. A minor-key statement of the “Wonderful World” theme on English horn accompanies the brothers’ walk home as Jacob worries that they will be put out on the street if Wilhelm does not shape up. Zither continues the up-tempo “Wonderful World” theme in a major key while Wilhelm, unconcerned, relates his latest fairy tale. Flute and oboe reflect Jacob’s nonsensical, calm demeanor, using motives from the main theme.
Street Scene No. 2 (Harline/Merill)
The brothers stop at a bookshop, where Jacob meets the beautiful Greta Heinrich (Barbara Eden), a fan of his work. The shop’s owner, Stossel (Walter Slezak), entreats Jacob to stop writing such “dull books” and “write about girls.” Flutes chirp a triple-meter variation of the “Wonderful World” theme as Wilhelm dilly-dallies in the street. Zither and harpsichord slow down the theme while the brothers—late for dinner—argue. Pizzicato strings and flutes take up the chirping variation as the brothers arrive home and Wilhelm plays with his children.

The Dancing Princess

5. Once Upon a Time (Harline/Merrill)
Wilhelm tucks the children into bed and begins telling the story of “The Dancing Princess,” accompanied by the “Wonderful World” theme on zither. A vocalist (by dubbing artist Gene Merlino, according to this site) sings Merrill’s “Dancing Princess” in voiceover as a woodsman (Russ Tamblyn) scampers through the forest to meet a Gypsy (Beulah Bondi), whose lonely theme appears on plaintive solo bassoon. Violin and tambourine accompany their brief dance. In gratitude for his kindness—and to help him win the hand of a princess—the Gypsy gives the woodsman a mask and an invisibility cloak to hide him from men’s greed and protect him from their envy. Celesta, harps and tremolo strings introduce the cloak’s delicate, shimmering motive. Donning the magical garment, the woodsman goes off in search of the princess, while a brief reprise of “Dancing Princess” closes the cue.
The king (Jim Backus) tells the woodsman that to win the hand of the princess (Yvette Mimieux)—and half the kingdom—he must discover the “why and wherefore” of the secret destination of her nighttime sojourns. If the woodsman attempts to do this and fails, he “shall have his head separated from his body forever more.”
6. Pursuit (Harline)
That night, thinking the woodsman is under the spell of a sleeping potion, the princess steals away. The woodsman—who had been faking his slumber—disappears under his cloak and Harline interpolates the “Dancing Princess” theme into stealth music as the young man watches her escape through a secret door behind the king’s throne. Staccato triplets in the woodwinds accompany her running down palace steps into a waiting carriage. Strings briefly quote the “Dancing Princess” theme as the woodsman jumps onto the back of the carriage, remaining out of sight.
7. Gypsy Rhapsody (Merrill)
The princess and the woodsman (now in disguise so the princess will not recognize him) arrive at a Gypsy camp. A lively violin solo, accompanied by cimbalom and accordion, sets the Gypsies to dancing. The masked woodsman demonstrates his athletic skills atop a Gypsy wagon, while the princess sheds her royal garb and dances on a wooden table. The cue closes with a fiery czardas danced by the woodsman and the princess. Alex Romero, who had choreographed Tamblyn in Pal’s tom thumb (1958), designed the dance sequence.
8. Gypsy Camp Bridge (Harline)
A solo violin serves as a brief musical bridge when mist rolls in and the Gypsies move off screen.
Princess Waltz (Dream Sequence) (Merrill)
The woodsman and the princess dance a lilting pas de deux to the “Dancing Princess” melody.
9. Remembrance (Harline)
When roosters signal the arrival of the dawn, the princess prepares to head home, but suddenly rushes back to find the woodsman, who has already disappeared under his cloak. To the strains of “Dancing Princess,” she returns to her carriage, accompanied by a solo violin, pizzicato strings and winds. The woodsman once again jumps onto the back of the carriage and the cue fades into the sound of horses’ hooves as they race back to the palace.
10. The Tumbler (Harline)
The woodsman accidentally snags his cloak on a tree and jumps off to retrieve it. When he sees the carriage continuing on its way, he tumbles down a hill as brass blurt out motives from “Pursuit” (again in a minor key) until he lands on top of the vehicle.
11. The Bridge (Harline)
A tree branch soon smacks him off the carriage once again, however, and he tries to run after the vehicle as it careens across a ramshackle bridge leading to the castle. The pursuit motive alternates between winds and brass as the camera reveals the dizzying height at which the bridge sways above rushing water and rocks far below.
12. Dancing Princess (Merrill)
Believing the woodsman has failed in his task, the king orders, “Off with his head!” But when the woodsman points out the secret passage behind the throne, the king grants him his daughter’s hand in marriage. The princess refuses—until the woodsman slips off his mask and she recognizes him as her love from the night before. The entire court joins the two lovers in the “Dancing Princess” waltz, accompanied by a wordless chorus. The scene reverts to Wilhelm telling the sleeping children “they lived happily ever after,” and a brief quote of the “Wonderful World” theme on zither closes the cue.

The Cobbler and the Elves

13. Once Upon a Second Time (Harline/Merrill)
Some time later, having completed work on the duke’s family history with two days to spare, Wilhelm attempts to convince Stossel, two female customers at the bookshop, and a group of neighborhood children that they all need a book of fairy tales. The “Wonderful World” melody plays again on the zither as Wilhelm begins telling a story: Instead of working on his backlog of shoes, an “old, old cobbler” (Laurence Harvey) sits painting a wooden elf. Oboe plays the melody from the forthcoming song “Christmas Land” before yielding to flute and harpsichord. Dramatic strings and a brass fanfare announce the arrival of the local mayor (Walter Brooke).
14. The Old Cobbler (Harline)
A brief reprise of the fanfare plays as the mayor exits—with a warning to the Cobbler that his shoes must be ready by the following morning.
Christmas Land (Merrill)
Harpsichord begins the introduction to “Christmas Land,” sung by the residents of the neighboring Home of Unwanted Children as the young orphans observe the cobbler from across the street. The song continues as a ballerina enters the shop looking for her toe shoes. Flutes flitter about with the song melody as she twirls around the shop, complaining that without her slippers she cannot dance at the king’s birthday party. She exits, admonishing the cobbler that if her slippers are not ready soon, he will be “boiled in oil.”
15. Go Home (Harline/Merrill)
The orphans walk over to the cobbler’s shop to sing for him. Irritated, he tells them to go home and wait for their good luck elves. When they explain that as orphans they have no good luck elves, the cobbler replies, “If you don’t believe in them, they won’t come to you.” “Christmas Land” plays on oboe, flutes and a lonely solo violin as the dejected children trudge back to the orphanage.
16. Ah-Oom (Merrill)
That night, the wooden elves come to life as the clock strikes midnight. They get to work mending shoes to help the cobbler avoid “terrible trouble.” The elves sing “Ah-Oom” as they cut, stitch, glue, tack and shine the shoes.
17. Good Luck Elves (Harline/Merrill)
Flutes flutter and an English horn plays the “Christmas Land” tune as the cobbler awakens on Christmas morning. An accordion plays the “Ah-Oom” melody followed by “Christmas Land” on celesta and harp as the cobbler takes the wooden elves to the orphans as presents. A cello begins a lovely countermelody as the delighted children awake to find their gifts.
18. The Old Cobbler (Harline/Merrill)
Back at his shop, the surprised cobbler receives double his usual fees from his grateful customers. As he looks over the mysteriously repaired shoes, English horn plays “Christmas Land.”
Christmas Land (Merrill)
The orphans sing of the cobbler’s purity of “heart and mind and hand” as they reprise “Christmas Land” while following the old man to Christmas services. A chorus joins in at the end of the cue and the story concludes with a flurry of snow.
19. Where Is Jacob? (Harline)
Wilhelm’s wife, Dorothea (Claire Bloom), bursts into the bookstore to alert her husband that the duke has summoned them. Chirping flutes once again accompany Wilhelm as he runs through the streets to find Jacob in a park with Greta, the strings soaring with a new theme for the couple as Jacob proposes marriage. Flutes return as Jacob and Wilhelm run to see the duke (Oscar Homolka), whose brief fanfare announces his entrance.
20. The Clock (Merrill)
The angry nobleman informs Wilhelm and Jacob that they omitted a distant cousin from his family history and gives the brothers just two days to complete their research. A clock chimes the “Wonderful World” theme (actually played on celesta) as the raging duke yells at the Grimms to “Get out!”
Epilogue Act I (Harline/Merrill)
Road show engagements included this cue that is missing from current home video releases of the film: Zither, harpsichord and whistler perform the “Wonderful World” theme, eventually joined by wordless chorus.
21. Overture Act II (revised) (Harline/Merrill)
The “Intermission” title card displays the forest set from the forthcoming “The Singing Bone.” The music begins with the “Emblem” fanfare, followed by a reprise of “Gypsy Rhapsody” and ends with a choral rendition of “Dancing Princess,” the only time the words to the song appear in the film.
22. Siegfried und Brunhilde (Robert Armbruster)
This cue, for a scene cut from the film, begins with a brief reprise of the “Wonderful World” theme on the zither followed by an overblown Wagnerian soprano and heldentenor.
23. The Lorelei (Harline/Merrill)
In another cue cut from the film, harp glissandi announce a wordless soprano, accompanied by celesta and strings; a brief reprise of the “Wonderful World” theme on zither closes the cue.
24. In Search of a New Story (Harline/Merrill)
In Rhineburg to complete the genealogical research, Wilhelm follows members of a boychoir as they sneak off for a weekly visit to reclusive storyteller Anna Richter (Martita Hunt). Flutes chirp the triplet variation of “Wonderful World” as the children scamper through the streets with Wilhelm not far behind, yielding to muted trumpets and hunting horns as they enter a forest.

The Singing Bone

25. Dee-Are-A-Gee-O-En (Dragon) (Merrill)
Richter begins, “Once upon a time, long, long ago in a far away land, there lived a huge and fearful dragon.” A knight, the “courageously, outlandish, outrageously brave” Ludwig (Terry Thomas), and his servant Hans (Buddy Hackett) trudge through the forest in search of the dragon that has been terrorizing the land. With the promise of fame and fortune to anyone who slays the horrible beast, Ludwig sings that he will “add the dragon to my ego.” Sinister strings mark a flash of red light from the cave (the dragon’s breath) before the song continues with Ludwig singing in a stage whisper and executing a bit of vaudeville two-step.
26. Entering Cave (Harline)
Ludwig sends Hans into the cave to slay the dragon, reassuring him, “I’ll stay here and protect your rear.” A minor key and tremolo strings convey the menace of the cave. Maracas shake—as do Hans’s knocked knees—when he sees picked-over bones lying in the dust. A muted brass fanfare suggests that Ludwig’s “bravery” may be more outlandish and outrageous than courageous. Harline slows down the loping bassoon motive first heard in track 25, rendering it less self-assured.
27. Introducing the Dragon (Harline)
A slithering theme for bassoon and contrabassoon marks the appearance of the dragon, who licks his lips at the sight of Hans. French horns provide a bit of “Mickey-Mousing” as Hans kicks the dragon. Heroic brass characterize Hans while cackling woodwinds and xylophone represent the cowering Ludwig.
Sir Ludwig the Brave (Harline)
Oboe interpolates Ludwig’s humorous motive as he tries to sneak off, but the dragon’s breath burns him on his armored rear. He attempts to hide behind a rock while xylophones play sixteenth notes against a cross-rhythm in the strings.
28. Dragon Dance (Harline)
Hans pushes a boulder off a ledge onto the dragon’s tail. The creature screams in agony and chases its tail in a circle, to a waltz accompaniment from tuba and low brass.
The Swinger (Harline)
Hans swings on a rope above the dragon, attempting to reach the other side of the cave to save his master. Harline conveys his airborne terror with tremolo strings, ondes Martenot and growling muted brass. When Hans misses the ledge and continues to swing over the dragon, Ludwig runs away “to get help.”
Ride Him, Hans (Harline)
Hans drops from the rope, xylophone accompanying him sliding down the scales on the dragon’s neck. After Hans fall off the dragon, the creature tries to crush him underneath, marked by alternating bassoon and muted brass.
Death in the Cave (Harline)
Hans grabs his sword and stabs the dragon. Harp glissandi accompany red smoke escaping from the dragon’s chest. The furious beast breathes fire until he falls down, lifeless, marked by a cacophonous brass chord.
29. Braggart (Harline)
Hans emerges from the cave to inform Ludwig—who has been lounging outside—that the dragon is dead. Thinking of the reward, Ludwig rushes to enter the cave to retrieve the dragon’s head as proof. Muted trumpets, snarling brass and timpani underline his bumbling ineptness and more generally the farcical nature of the scene.
Murderous Knight (Harline)
On their way home, Ludwig and Hans stop at a pond for a drink of water. Ludwig sneaks up behind Hans and raises his sword to slay his faithful servant. Tremolo strings and ascending brass convey the evilness of the deed until lightning and thunder return the scene back to the storyteller’s cottage, where the children are screaming.
30. The Seasons (Harline)
Because he feared that someone would discover it was the servant and not the master who had slain the dragon, greedy Ludwig killed Hans and buried him under an apple tree, doing a brief two-step to the bassoon motive over the grave as he tamps down the dirt and rocks. Spring passes, marked by harp glissandi, flutes and solo violin, while accelerating strings denote autumn winds blowing leaves from the tree. A celesta signals winter, yielding to staccato flutes for the return of spring. A shepherd appears with his flock and finds a bone lying on the ground. He carves holes into it, thinking it will make a fine flute to soothe his flock; solo oboe interpolates the “Singing Bone” melody as accompaniment.
Singing Bone (Merrill)
The shepherd blows into the flute and it sings a tune (with lyrics by Grimm co-screenwriter Charles Beaumont).
The frightened shepherd runs off. Muted trumpets, snare drum and timpani signal a change of scene to the king’s court.
31. Singing Bone Part 2 (Merrill/Beaumont)
The shepherd plays the complete “Singing Bone” song, which tells the tale of Ludwig slaying Hans.
32. Life Again (Harline)
Confronted with his dastardly deeds, a penitent Ludwig drops to his knees and begs for the court’s mercy. When he apologizes, the flute flies out of the shepherd’s hand, the bones rebuilding the body of Hans, to the accompaniment of xylophone, maracas and celesta. The servant comes back to life, marked by a brief brass fanfare.
Sir Hans (Harline)
After Hans begs the court to spare his master’s life, Ludwig is sentenced to spend the rest of his life as Hans’s servant. Sustained strings interpolate the “Singing Bone” melody in a major key as the court pronounces the former servant “Sir Hans the Dragon Killer,” accompanied by a trumpet fanfare. Ludwig leads Sir Hans’s horse out of the courtyard as the scene reverts to the storyteller’s cottage.
33. Desperate (Harline)
Back at the duke’s residence, Wilhelm confesses that he has lost the family history manuscript. The duke gives him three days to pay back six months’ rent. Snare drums and French horns play the duke’s fanfare as he exits. Wilhelm, coughing and desperately ill, stumbles down a flight of stairs. After a change of scene back to his home, a solo violin laments as Dorothea worries about her sick husband.
34. The Fever (Harline/Merrill)
A delirious Wilhelm lies in bed with a fever. Harline captures his ensuing mania with a minor-key rendition of the “Wonderful World” theme on solo flute, followed by clarinet against gentle harp chords. A giant appears at Wilhelm’s window, marked by a sensitive organ version of Merrill’s “Above the Stars” theme. The creature explains, “If you die, we’ll never be born.” Pizzicato strings underscore other fairy-tale characters climbing in through the window.
35. Delirium (Merrill)
The characters explain, as they begin to fade from Wilhelm’s consciousness, “We die like dreams, fade into forgetfulness…when you reach your last heartbeat, we reach ours.” Organ and harpsichord reprise “Above the Stars,” accompanied by flute runs and quiet tremolo strings, followed by oboe and piccolo solos. Feverish, Wilhelm stumbles to the window, calling them back, and crashes to the floor as the brass end the cue.
36. Farewell (Harline)
Dorothea rushes upstairs to find that Wilhelm’s fever has broken. Accompanied by zither, Jacob picks up a piece of paper and reads, “Once upon a time there was a tiny little boy. His name was Tom Thumb.” Some time later back at the local park, Jacob explains to Greta that he has promised Wilhelm to continue living with him so they can finish their work. Solos from oboe, flute and clarinet reprise the couple’s theme (introduced in “Where Is Jacob?”). Greta announces that she will not wait for him and returns home to Berlin.
37. Book Montage (Harline)
A montage shows Jacob and Wilhelm researching and writing their fairy tales and scholarly tomes. Harline’s busy cue employs a bustling French horn theme and pizzicato strings.
38. End Title (Harline/Merrill)
The brothers travel to Berlin to be inducted into the Royal Academy—on account of Jacob’s scholarship rather than Wilhelm’s fairy tales, much to Jacob’s dismay. Upon their arrival, cheering children flood the train platform, shouting, “We want a story!” Wilhelm responds with the immortal words, “Once upon a time.” The film closes with a joyous rendition of the “Wonderful World” theme.
39. Epilogue Act II (Harline/Merrill)
In this exit music composed for roadshow presentations, three whistlers present the “Wonderful World” theme against a choral countermelody. Strings and organ close the cue with “Above the Stars.”

Disc 2, tracks 12–26 feature additional and alternate selections from the Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm scoring sessions:

12. Ah-Oom (with lead-in dialogue)
The elves’ work-song, “Ah-Oom” (disc 1, track 16) is heard here with its lead-in dialogue.
13. Dee-Are-A-Gee-O-En (Dragon) (with lead-in dialogue)
This version of “Dee-Are-A-Gee-O-En (Dragon)” begins with Ludwig clearing his throat (not heard in the film) followed by the same version of the song heard on disc 1, track 25.
14. Emblem (alternate)
An extended opening, not used in the film, embellishes this alternate version of the “Emblem” music for Leo the Lion (disc 1, track 2).
15. Main Title (alternate)
The “Main Title” (disc 1, track 3) originally featured a different zither beginning and countermelodies in the harpsichord and strings. This performance matches the finished film starting at 0:33, but adds three whistlers (at 0:54) and a zither extension (1:54–1:58).
16. Princess Waltz (Dream Sequence) (alternate)
A slower tempo and brief cimbalom arpeggios (at 0:14) distinguish this alternate of the latter portion of disc 1, track 8 from the film version.
17. The Clock/Epilogue Act I (alternates)
These are alternate versions of the two cues in disc 1, track 20. Here “The Clock” plays the “Wonderful World” theme at a slower tempo, while the alternate version of the “Epilogue Act I” is missing the zither, whistler and chorus.
18. Overture Act II (alternate)
The original version of “Overture Act II” (disc 1, track 21) begins, as in the film, with the “Emblem” theme, but instead of moving into “Gypsy Rhapsody” it segues into “Above the Stars” (at 0:17) in the strings, accompanied by flute and celesta. Following a dramatic transition, strings play the “Dancing Princess” accompaniment (at 1:44) without the choral overlay.
19. Singing Bone (unprocessed)
This version of “The Singing Bone” (disc 1, track 30) features flute and Buddy Hackett’s vocals without the special effects added to make it sound “otherworldly.”
20. Book Montage (alternate, with trombones)
The performance heard in the film (disc 1, track 37) is here enhanced by the addition of trombones punctuating a syncopated accompaniment.
21. Dancing Princess (solo zither)
Ruth Welcome plays a slow, sinuous, Hawaiian-flavored rendition of the “Dancing Princess” melody on zither.
22. Ah-Oom (pre-recording)
This track consists strictly of accompaniment, featuring piano, bass, xylophone, güiro, temple blocks, snare drum, glockenspiel and vibraphone. (Occasionally a faint vocal can be heard, but the corresponding vocal track could not be located.) It is the first of five “pre-recordings” that close out the bonus section of Brothers Grimm material.
23. Dancing Princess (pre-recording)
The unnamed vocalist who sings “Dancing Princess” in the film (disc 1, track 12) here sings the entire song with piano accompaniment.
24. Gypsy Rhapsody (pre-recording)
This track features the original “Gypsy Rhapsody” instrumentation—including violin, cimbalom and bass—as might be heard in a Gypsy camp, prior to adding the full orchestral backing (disc 1, track 7).
25. Princess Waltz (Dream Sequence) (pre-recording)
A lovely violin duet renders the “Princess Waltz” over piano and bass accompaniment.
26. Dee-Are-A-Gee-O-En (Dragon) (pre-recording)
The vocals of Terry-Thomas and Buddy Hackett are featured with a simple piano accompaniment in this demo version. —