With Richard Thorpe’s Ivanhoe (1952) Miklós Rózsa created a template that would guide him through several medieval/Renaissance romances during his M-G-M years. These included Young Bess, Knights of the Round Table, The King’s Thief and Diane, culminating in his masterpiece in the genre, El Cid. He began with research on music of the period (just as he had done with Quo Vadis), then wove a colorful tapestry of themes that combined period melodies with original tunes, harmonized and blended in a seamless score paying homage to history but distinctly in Rózsa’s own contemporary voice.
Ivanhoe was one of Rózsa’s few M-G-M pictures to enjoy a true soundtrack recording. About 15 minutes of highlights from the score were issued on one side of a 10″ LP (MGM Records E 179, the other side of which featured tracks from Plymouth Adventure) at the time of the film’s release in 1952. These selections were reissued on a 12″ disc (MGM Records E 3507, also including tracks from Madame Bovary) in 1957; the original liner notes have been reproduced as part of the Madame Bovary notes for this box set. Bruce Broughton conducted the Sinfonia of London in much-praised re-recording for Intrada in 1995 (MAF 7055D), and in 2002 Rhino Handmade released the more-or-less complete original soundtrack recording (RHM2 7772). Although the film soundtrack was recorded in three-track stereo by M-G-M, only monaural dubdowns were archived, so all original soundtrack releases (LP and CD) have been—and ever shall be—in mono.
The bonus tracks on this FSM disc feature selections left off the Rhino release for editorial reasons, including previously unreleased alternates and initial versions of cues that Rózsa revised for the finished film.
- 13. Prelude and Foreword (alternate)
- Two versions of the main title music appear on the Rhino disc: the original (track 1 on the Rhino CD, recorded on December 7, 1951) and a revised final version (Rhino track 26, recorded January 21, 1952). For the latter, Rózsa shortened and altered the “Foreword” to accommodate the opening narration used in the film. A third version, also recorded on December 7 and presented for the first time on this box set, is a slightly truncated variation of the first one, omitting two measures in the introduction and eliminating the concluding oboe and English horn solos (which anticipate the following song).
- 14. Song of Ivanhoe
- Rózsa composed this song, heard at the opening of the film, for Ivanhoe (Robert Taylor) to sing as he travels through Austria in search of King Richard I (“The Lionhearted,” played by Norman Wooland). The composer himself supervised this performance by star Robert Taylor and an unidentified lutenist. The words are by Marguerite Roberts, the uncredited co-author of the screenplay. Richard’s answering phrase, sung from his prison cell when he recognizes the song and the singer, was recorded on set and thus not part of the music masters.
- 15. Fourth Ashby Fanfare/Fifth Ashby Fanfare/Sixth Ashby Fanfare/Seventh Ashby Fanfare/Eighth Ashby Fanfare (film versions)
- For a tournament at Ashby, where Ivanhoe (disguised as the Black Knight) defeats almost all Norman challengers, Rózsa provided a series of eight fanfares. The Rhino disc included the first three (on track 10 of the Rhino CD): for the opening of the tournament, the first joust, and the entrance of the Black Knight. Here FSM presents the remaining five: shorter fanfares that precede Ivanhoe’s challenge of individual Norman knights, from de Malvoisin (Patrick Holt) to de Bois-Guilbert (George Sanders).
- 16. First Ashby Fanfare/Second Ashby Fanfare/Third Ashby Fanfare/Fourth Ashby Fanfare/Fifth Ashby Fanfare/Sixth Ashby Fanfare/Seventh Ashby Fanfare/Eighth Ashby Fanfare (original versions)
- The Ashby fanfares used in the film were scored for six trumpets and recorded on January 14, 1952. Earlier, on December 12, 1951, Rózsa had recorded a set of eight completely different fanfares for the same scene. Presented here, these are more musically sophisticated and more richly scored for both trumpets and cornets. The reason for the change is unknown, but might have been an effort to match the sound with the visuals, as only six instruments appear on screen (although such concern for verisimilitude would have been rare for the moviemaking of the period).
- 17. First Locksley Horn/Second Locksley Horn/Third Locksley Horn/Fourth Locksley Horn/Norman Trumpet/Fifth Locksley Horn/Sixth Locksley Horn
- Ivanhoe and his friends are held captive in Torquilstone castle. Waiting outside to rescue him is Sir Robin of Locksley (“Robin Hood,” played by Harold Warrender). A series of ram’s horn calls of different lengths (recorded on December 8, 1951) are used by Locksley, initially to summon de Bois-Guilbert to a parley, and then to summon his men to attack the castle. The first recorded call was not used, while the second, third and fourth are heard “solo” on the soundtrack, and the final two are laid over the exciting orchestral battle music in the finished film (track 19 on the Rhino CD). All six are presented here, along with an unused solo “Norman Trumpet” recorded separately from the orchestra track but possibly intended to be overlaid when de Boeuf (Francis De Wolff) cries “Sound the alarm!” at the beginning of Locksley’s attack.
- 18. First Trumpet Fanfare/Second Trumpet Fanfare/Third Trumpet Fanfare (original versions)
- Rózsa composed another set of fanfares for the climactic fight to the death at Ashby, where Ivanhoe challenges de Bois-Guilbert to single combat in order to prove the innocence of Rebecca of York (Elizabeth Taylor). As with the “Ashby Fanfares,” Rózsa first recorded versions performed by an ensemble of trumpets and cornets (on December 8) and then revised film renditions performed by six trumpets (on January 16). Track 18 presents the original trumpet/cornet fanfares; compositionally the “First Trumpet Fanfare” and the “Second Trumpet Fanfare” are the same, with the latter transposed up a whole step.
- 19. First Trumpet Fanfare/Second Trumpet Fanfare/Third Trumpet Fanfare/Fourth Trumpet Fanfare/First Richard Fanfare (film versions)
- As in the earlier tournament scene, an onscreen group of six trumpets perhaps dictated the re-composition of the related fanfares; track 19 presents the revised film versions. As with track 18, the “First Trumpet Fanfare” and “Second Trumpet Fanfare” are the same except for a transposition, as are the “Third Trumpet Fanfare” and “Fourth Trumpet Fanfare” (prefiguring a fanfare in Young Bess), which play when the two combatants choose their weapons. The “First Richard Fanfare,” scored for trumpets, cornets and drums, heralds the imminent arrival of King Richard and his men. (Rhino track 23 features “First Trumpet Fanfare” and “First Richard Fanfare” only, omitting the three interior selections.)
- 20. Second Richard Fanfare/Finale/Finale Bridge/Finale/Epilogue
- This medley of the film’s closing music incorporates a revision of Rebecca’s theme (“Finale Bridge”) recorded on January 21, 1952 as heard in the finished film, in which the violins are doubled at a higher octave. The comparable Rhino tracks 24 and 25 (“Finale” and “Epilogue”) present the original versions recorded in December 1951. —