Sunday, June 24, 2018

Miklós Rózsa - Overture to Ben Hur

As it turns out, the novel Ben Hur was written by a former Union general, Lew Wallace.  By way of coincidence, Wallaace was the commander at the battle of Monocacy in July of 1864.

Monocacy battlefield is just a few miles from Castle Borepatch.  Frequent commenter (and very possibly the actual Most Interesting Man In The World) libertyman sent the Queen Of The World and I a book on that battle - stay tuned for a review of the book.  The Cliff Notes version is that Wallace's greatly outnumbered troops lost the battle, but fought hard and delayed the Confederates for an entire day.  By the time the victorious southerners marched to Washington DC the previously undefended city had been reinforced.  Wallace saved the Union that day.

But he's best known for this book, and the film that was made 70 years later.  The book became wildly successful and secured Wallace's fortune; the film got a (then) record 11 Academy Awards, including best musical score.

Miklós Rózsa was a Hungarian composer who came to America to write film scoresWorking in Britain on the film The Thief Of Bagdad, the studio brought him to California when they decided to finish the film in the safety of America.  He stayed there until his death 55 years later.  He was the most famous and successful of the studio composers, receiving 17 Academy Award nominations in his career.

He researched ancient Greek and Music music while he composed this, working these stylistic touches into the score.  This score was his high water mark, from the era of "Middle Brow" entertainment where intelligence of the audience was assumed.  Personally, I found this music to be a treat.


libertyman said...

You are too kind!
I saw Ben Hur in Boston in Cinerama on a class trip. I will have to see it again now and listen carefully to the music.
Off to Amazon.

Ed Bonderenka said...

Ben-Hur A Tale of the Christ.
I saw it at the theater as a child.
Watching on tv, I wondered what was so great about it until it showed on TCM and we sat transfixed.
A the music is perfect.

Aesop said...

Typo alert: I'm pretty sure that battle was in 1864, not 1964.

Borepatch said...

Aesop, thanks. Updated.

LSP said...

People keep telling me to see Ben Hur (again) and I will. Thanks for the context.