My Favourite Scores – 1942

  • Kings Row
  • Erich Wolfgang Korngold
  • Varèse Sarabande / 1991 / 48:10

According to Korngold’s son, George, thousands of filmgoers wrote to the composer to express their enjoyment of his score. And listening to this re-recording from Charles Gerhardt/The National Philharmonic Orchestra it is easy to hear what all the fuss was about. Right from the outset, Korngold’s fanfaric theme grabs the attention immediately and for me it is Korngold’s themes and leitmotifs contained in this score that is the attraction.

This version (subsequently, Film Score Monthly have gone on to release the original soundtrack recording – that I have yet to hear) has been arranged as a couple of symphonic suites and the quality of Korngold’s music means that this is not a problem.

As well as the main theme (that many have said has similarities to John Williams’ theme from Star Wars, though I did not notice this until it was pointed out to me) there’s a beautiful, rather romantic theme that’s very European in style to my ears and Korngold’s skill is to take these themes (and others) and adapt them into a whole myriad of forms.

The score can be a bit melodramatic in places but, again, Korngold’s themes are some of the best he composed and mean that this score goes to the top of the pile for 1942 in my view.

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