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Rightly or wrongly, I have always linked Gulliver’s Travels and Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe. Both were originally written about the same time; (Crusoe in 1719, Gulliver around 1700) both arose out of shipwrecks; and both are children’s classics, though not originally intended as such. And both have inspired music.

For Robinson Crusoe perhaps the major musical spin-off came from across the English Channel. Offenbach’s operetta of that name appeared in 1867 and had made its way to the UK by the 1880s. It became a pantomime subject for which Henry Tilsley, doubtless among others, wrote music. Another stage work with Crusoe connections, at any rate in its title, was Robert Stolz’s musical farce of 1922, Robinson Crusoe’s Isle, though this was best known under its alternative title Whirled Into Happiness.

Robinson Crusoe became a nursery tune, which was arranged for chorus, as were many others by first Frank Kidson and Alfred Moffat, then by Thomas Wood.

I have no information about radio or TV adaptations but there have been several Crusoe films at least two of them quirky; Robinson Crusoe And The Tiger, a Mexican film (1969, music by Raul Laviste) and, from America, Robinson Crusoe on Mars (1984, music by Van Cleave). But the standard film Robinson Crusoe was English and from as far back as 1952. Anthony Collins, who at that period produced many attractive film scores, supplied the music.

Philip L. Scowcroft
August 2010

Rob Maynard comments:

Philip L. Scowcroft has not, as he admits in his brief survey , discovered the television music for "Robinson Crusoe" that is best known in the UK and Europe.

Robert Mellin and Gian-Piero Reverberi composed the memorable score to Henry Deutschmeister's 1964 TV series that everyone of several generations (it was often repeated!) will know. Here is the very hummable main theme:

The full music for the series appeared on a 1990 Silva Screen CD - FILMCD 705.

Devotees can wallow in nostalgia by reading about the cult TV series here:

For similar articles see The Philip Scowcroft Collection






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