September 2001Film Music CD Reviews

Film Music Editor: Ian Lace
Music Webmaster Len Mullenger

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Daniele (Alexandrovich) AMFITHEATROF
Composer - Conductor by John Steven Lasher

This is a long file it includes:-
* Daniele (Alexandrovich) Amfitheatrof Composer-Conductor a profile article by John Steven Lasher
* List of Amfitheatrof's North American Concerts ( 1937-38)
* Amfitheatrof Newspaper Reviews
*List of Amfitheatrof Compositions: chamber; orchestral; and motion pictures
and television
* Amfitheatrof discography

DANIELE AMFITHEATROF was born in St Petersburg, Russia on 29th October 1901 into a family distinguished in pre-Soviet Russia in various fields of arts and culture. His father, Alexander V Amfitheatrof [1862-1938], was a noted historian and writer. His mother, Illaria (Sokolof), an accomplished singer and pianist, had studied privately with Rimsky-Korsakoff.

The composer's early life was one of extreme hardship. In January 1902, at the age of three months, he was removed to Siberia, where his father was imprisoned for publishing anti-Czarist articles. In 1904 the authorities returned the family to St Petersburg, following which they migrated to Italy. At the age of six he began music studies with his mother.

In 1914 he commenced studies in composition under Ottorino Respighi in Rome, but returned with his family to Russia where his father was appointed advisor to Kerensky during the few months he was Prime Minister before the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution. In spite of this social and political upheaval he managed formal instruction in harmony under Nicolas V Scherbatchef and Joseph Wihtol at the Petrograd Conservatory between 1916 and 1918. In 1921 he was permitted travel to Prague, Czechoslovakia to study counterpoint with Jaroslav Kricka.

After four years of hardships the Amfitheatrof family under the auspices of Maxim Gorky succeeded in their escape from Russia by way of a perilous crossing in a small boat across the Gulf of Finland. Following their return to Italy in the Spring in 1922 the young composer became a naturalized citizen and settled down to a peaceful pursuit of his musical activities. He resumed studies with Respighi. In 1924 he received his diploma in composition from the Royal Conservatory of Santa Cecilia in Rome. To his other accomplishments as a professional pianist he enrolled in a two-year course of Gregorian Music and Organ at the Superior Pontifical Academy of Sacred Music at the Vatican between 1925 and 1927. In 1926 he was also appointed as private music teacher to HRH Princess Giovanna di Savoia in Rome for three years.

During these formative years he took his place in Italian professional life. He was appointed pianist, organist and assistant choral director at the Augusteo in Rome in 1924, and between 1926 and 1929 conducted their resident orchestra as the associate to Bernardino Molinari. Successive appointments included those as the artistic director of the Italian Radio Stations in Genoa and Trieste [1929-32] and management of the RAI in Turin, where he also conducted many symphony concerts, choral works and operas at the Teatro di Torino [1932-1937]. He also composed his first film score [Max Ophuls' La Signora di Tutti, 1934] and appeared as guest conductor of many of the leading European orchestras.

His success as a composer in his own right was assured early on by premier performances of Poema del Mare [Poem of the Sea, 1925] and Miracolo delle Rose [Miracle of the Rose, 1926] by the Augusteo Symphony under Molinari. Likewise, a performance of Christmas Rhapsody for Organ and Orchestra by Fernando Germani and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Fernando Germani under Frederic Stock on 14th December 1928 was well received by American audiences. His popular programmatic work American Panorama [1935], premiered by Dimitri Mitropoulos at Turin in 1937, resulted in an invitation from the conductor of the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra for Amfitheatrof to take up the post as his associate for the first two-months of the 1937-38 concert season.

He arrived in the United States with his wife of seven years [nee May C Semenza of Milan], his son Erik [b 1931] and daughter Stella Renata [b 1934] aboard the Italian liner Vulcania at New York Harbour on 21st October. His busy schedule with the orchestra, which included concerts in Canada (Winnipeg, Manitoba) and regional Minnesota (Moorhead), received much positive press. The music critic for the 20th November edition of the Minneapolis Progress-Register, reviewing the 13th November concert at Northrop Auditorium, noted in earnest, 'both as a conductor and composer Daniele Amfitheatrof was an unqualified success...he won his audience completely from the beginning through his sincere and ardent interpretations, and the reception of his final number [the US premier of American Panorama] amounted to a veritable ovation with many recalls...'. His brief engagement with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, accepted at the behest of Serge Koussevitsky, to conduct concerts there in January 1938 was similarly lauded by audiences and critics alike.

With the war imminent in Europe he decided to remain in the United States. He relocated his family to California, where he was employed under an exclusive four-year contract [1939-43] to the music department at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer studios in Culver City. In May of 1950 he represented the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and the Screen Composers' Association of America as their official delegate to the International Music Congress in Florence, Italy. During his twenty-six years in Hollywood he was twice nominated for the Academy Award for best original score for Guest Wife [1945] and Song of the South [1946]. He composed over fifty film scores (many of them uncredited), and worked at all the major film studios before he retired in 1965.

He returned to Italy in 1959, where he lived for the most part until 1967. During this time he dedicated himself to the completion of several new concert works. He made frequent visits to the United States during the last fifteen years of his life, but plans to secure the financing for a stage musical, the production of a film and the completion of an operatic work were not successful there. His final years were spent in relative seclusion in Venice and Rome, where he died on 4th June 1983.

Amfitheatrof once remarked rather philosophically that his career in Hollywood as a 'prostitute composer' ultimately tarnished his image, making it difficult - if not impossible - for him to secure performances of his concert music. Nonetheless, he considered his film work to be professional in every respect, citing Lassie Come Home, The Beginning of the End, Letter from an Unknown Woman and The Last Hunt - the latter recorded in three-track stereo by the MGM Studio Symphony Orchestra - as the scores he was particularly proud of. Until certain 'hand-made' labels, claiming first-rights to the vaults of MGM and 20th Century-Fox, release albums featuring the music of this most neglected of all the major Hollywood composers those interested in his oeuvre have little recourse at present other than a limited selection of commercially available CDs, videos & DVDs.

Text (c) 2001 by John Steven Lasher. All Rights Reserved.

List of compositions:


Sonata for violoncello (or violin) and piano [1923]. Unpublished.

Andante for violoncello (or violin) and piano [1923]. G Ricordi.

Sonata-Fantasia for violin and piano [1927]. G Ricordi.

Trio for violin, violoncello and piano [1931]. Unpublished.

Preludio sull-annunciaziona di Leonardo da Vinci. pf. [1929?]. Unpub.


Poema del Mare [1925]. G Recordi. First performance: Augusteo Orchestra [Rome], Bernardino Molinari, conductor.

Miracolo delle Rose [1926]. G Recordi. First performance: Augusteo Orchestra [Rome}, Bernardino Molinari, conductor.

Christmas Rhapsody ['Noel'] for Organ and Orchestra [1928]. First performance: Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Frederick Stock, conductor, Fernando Germani, organ.

Preludio ad una Messa da Requiem for orchestra [1929]. Suvini-Zerboni. First Performance: Orchestra Stabile di Firenze, Vittorio Gui, conductor.

Italia (tone poem) for orchestra. Unpublished.

American Panorama for large orchestra [1935]. Suvini-Zerboni. First performance: Orchestra Teatro di Torino. Dmitri Mitropoulos, conductor. The Disques Pathe recording received the Grand Prix du Disques for 'best recording of a new work' in 1937.

Concerto for Piano and Orchestra [1936]. Unpublished. First performance: Orchestra Teatro di Torino, Amfitheatrof, conductor, Magda Tagliaferro, piano. First USA performances by NBC Symphony, Leopold Stokowski, conductor, and Los Angeles Philharmonic, Alfred Wallenstein, conductor [1945].

De Profundis Clamavi for orchestra [1944]. Unpublished. First performance: NBC Symphony Orchestra, Leopold Stokowski, conductor.

Requiem for solo voices, chorus and orchestra [1962]. Unpublished. First performance: RAI Symphony Orchestra [Rome], Massimo Freccia, conductor. Premiere attended by Jerry Goldsmith.

The Staring Match musical drama in 2 acts. Libretto by Jerry McNeely [1965]. Unpublished. Unperformed.

Concerto Bravura for violin and orchestra [1972]. Dedicated to Zino Francescatti. Unpublished. Unperformed.

Prayers for string orchestra. Unpublished. Unperformed.

motion pictures and television:

La Signora di Tutti [1934]. Novella Films (Italy).

Mudundu [documentary, 1935]. Italy.

Ash Can Fleet [short, 1939]. MGM.

Story That Couldn't be Printed, The [short, 1939] MGM. ps: Snell.

Failure at Fifty, A [short, 1939]. MGM.

Fast and Furious [1939]. MGM. ps: Brent.

Nick Carter, Master Detective [1939]. MGM.

Old South, The [short, 1940]. MGM.

Northward, Ho! [short, 1940]. MGM.

Stuffie [short, 1940]. MGM. ps: Snell.

Edison the Man [1940]. MGM. ps: Stothart.

And One was Beautiful [1940]. MGM.

Northwest Passage [1940], MGM. ps: Stothart.

Man from Dakota [1940]. MGM. ps: Snell.

Servant of Mankind [short, 1940]. MGM. ps: Snell.

Trifles of Importance [short, 1940]. MGM.

Boom Town (uncredited) [1940]. MGM. ps: Waxman.

We Who are Young (uncredited) [1940]. MGM. ps: Kaper.

Baron and the Rose [short, 1940]. MGM.

Eyes of the Navy [short, 1940]. MGM.

Utopia of Death [short, 1940]. MGM.

Dreams [short, 1940]. MGM.

Great Meddler, The [short, 1941]. MGM.

Keeping Company [1941]. MGM.

Happiest Man on Earth, The [short, 1941]. MGM.

Whispers [short, 1941]. MGM.

Free and Easy [1941]. MGM.

More Trifles of Importance [short, 1941]. MGM.

Out of Darkness [short, 1941]. MGM.

Blossoms in the Dust (uncredited) [1941]. MGM. ps: Stothart.

Battle, The [short, 1941]. MGM.

This is the Bowery [short, 1941]. MGM.

Get Away, The [1941]. MGM.

Stars Look Down, The [1941]. ps: Castelnuovo-Tedesco, May.

Man Who Changed the World, The [short, 1941]. MGM.

Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (uncredited) [1941]. MGM. fs: Waxman.

Married Bachelor [1941]. MGM. ps: Hayton.

Hobbies [short, 1941]. MGM.

Strange Testament [short, 1941]. MGM.

H M Pulham, esq. [1941]. MGM.

Mr and Mrs North [1942]. MGM.

Jo Smith, American [ 1942]. MGM.

Dr Kildare's Triple X [1942]. MGM.

Main Street on the March [short, 1942]. MGM. ps: Snell.

Yank on Burma Road, A [1942]. MGM. ps: Hayton

Nazi Agent [1942]. MGM. ps: Hayton

Calling Dr Gillespie [1942]. MGM.

Vendetta [short, 1942]. MGM.

Mr Blabbermouth [short, 1942]. MGM. ps: Castelnuovo-Tedesco.

Northwest Rangers [1942]. MGM.

Dr Gillespie's New Assistant [1942]. MGM.

Price of Victory, The [short, 1942]. MGM.

Lost Angel [1943]. MGM.

Cry Havoc [1943]. MGM.

Days of Glory [1943]. RKO.

I'll be Seeing You [1944]. Selznick International.

Gaslight (uncredited) [1944]. MGM. fs: Kaper.

Son of Lassie [1945]. MGM. ps: Castelnuovo-Tedesco, Stothart.

Guest Wife [1945]. United Artists. AN.

Beginning or the End, The [1946]. MGM.

Miss Susie Slagle's [1946] . Paramount.

O.S.S. [1946] . Paramount. ps: Roemheld.

Song of the South [1946]. Disney/RKO. ps: Paul Smith. AN.

Suspense [1946]. Monogram.

Temptation [1946]. Universal.

Virginian, The [1946]. Paramount.

Smash Up, the Story of a Woman [1947].

Time Out of Mind [1947] . Universal. fs: Rozsa, ps: Castelnuovo-Tedesco

Undercover Maisie [1947]. MGM. ps: Bassman, Hayton, lc.

Long Night, The [1947]. RKO.

Singapore [1947]. Universal.

Senator Was Indiscreet, The [1947]. Universal. ps: Leith Stevens.

Ivy [1947]. Universal.

Lost Moment [1947]. Universal.

Letter from an Unknown Woman [1948]. Universal.

Another Part of the Forest [1948].

Universal. An Act of Murder [1948]. Universal.

Rogue's Regiment [1948] . Universal.

You Gotta Stay Happy [1949]. Universal.

Fan, The [1949]. 20th Century-Fox.

Sand [1949]. 20th Century-Fox.

House of Strangers [1949]. 20th Century-Fox.

Backfire [1949]. Warner Bros.

Capture, The [1949]. RKO.

Copper Canyon [1950]. Paramount.

Devil's Doorway [1950]. MGM.

Under My Skin [1950]. 20th Century-Fox.

Damned Don't Cry, The [1950]. Warner Bros.

Storm Warning [1950]. Warner Bros.

Place in the Sun, A (uncredited) [1951]. Par. fs: Waxman. ac: V Young.

Painted Hills, The [1951]. MGM.

Bird of Paradise, The [1951]. 20th Century-Fox.

Tomorrow is Another Day [1951]. Warner Bros.

Angels in the Outfield [1951]. MGM.

Goodbye, My Fancy [1951]. Warner Bros.

Desert Fox, The [1951]. 20th Century-Fox. ac: Alfred Newman.

Salome (music for dances) s: Duning.[1953]. Columbia. f

Big Heat, The [1953]. lc.

Scandal at Scourie [1953]. MGM.

Devil's Canyon [3-D film, 1953]. RKO.

Naked Jungle, The [1954]. Paramount.

Of Human Desire [1954]. Columbia.

Day of Triumph [1955]. Century Pictures.

Trial [1955]. MGM.

Desperate Hours [1955]. Paramount. fs: Kubic. ac: V Young.

Last Hunt, The [1956]. MGM.

Mountain, The [1956]. Paramount.

Spanish Affair [1957]. Paramount.

Unholy Wife [1957]. RKO.

Fraulein [1958]. 20th Century-Fox.

From Hell to Texas [1958]. 20th Century-Fox.

Edge of Eternity, The [1959]. Columbia.

Countdown [television pilot, 1959]. Paramount.

That Kind of Woman [1959]. Paramount.

Old Man Charvanaugh Story [from Wagon Train TV, 1959]

Heller in Pink Tights [1960]. Paramount.

Major Dundee [1965]. Columbia. footnotes on film music: Revue Prods.

ac: Composition of original short cues with other composer's listed.

fs: full-score by credited composer replaced by [ac] or [ps] cues.

lc: music library cues reused from other films (uncredited).

ps: partial score of original cues with other composers listed.

Films in bold italic are available on VHS and/or DVD.

AN: music nominated for an Academy Award.

Text (c) 2001 by John Steven Lasher. All Rights Reserved.


Analysis of Selected Works:

American Panorama [1935]

Amfitheatrof's most popular - and accessible (although some, including Alexander 'Sandy' Courage, the composer best-known for the theme from the original Star Trek television series, would argue today that it is, perhaps, too accessible) - concert work was composed in 1935 before the composer set foot on American soil. The programmatic content of the music is based upon pictures, gramophone recordings (in particular, the Paul Whiteman Victor discs featuring music by Gershwin and Grofé), stories related by friends returning from holiday in America and, of course, his own imagination. In his preface to the printed edition of the score Amfitheatrof speaks of '...vital energy... strength, action and gain...sentiment and nostalgia...of [his] interest in America and its peoples'. The work, which is some fifteen-minutes in duration, is composed for a large symphony orchestra featuring an expanded percussion section. Otherwise, certain other instruments are required to produce unusual sound effects, with players instructed, 'Violinists hum while playing...',' horns blow with mouthpieces inverted...', 'tuba player sing through your instrument...', etc. Amfitheatrof's intent was to produce the 'sound' of steam engines, fog horns, sirens, machinery, construction work - industrial America of the early 20th-Century.

The world-premier was given in 1937 by the Turin Theatre Orchestra under the baton of the visiting Dmitri Mitropoulos, who later included the work in his repertoire. The first performance in the United States took place on 13th November, with the composer conducting the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra's homecoming concert at Northrop Auditorium [University of Minnesota]. The work, which also featured in his fortnightly concerts with the Boston Symphony Orchestra in January 1938, elicited favourable comments from the Boston music critics, including that of Ruth Marsters of the Boston Sunday Advertiser, who remarked '...Symphony Hall has been resounding with some extraordinary music of late...The music to which we refer is called American Panorama...presented for the first time [14th January] when its composer made his bow to Boston audiences conducting the regular pair of concerts...'. Similarly, the unidentified critic in the 15th January edition of the Boston Globe stated, 'Mr Amfitheatrof's own American Panorama, a vast and breezy work, claimed the most topical interest of the afternoon. It was presented for the first time in Boston'. Miklos Rózsa later recalled for this writer a particular performance under the baton of Jose Iturbi at the Hollywood Bowl in the mid-1940s as being 'very well received' by the audience.

Text (c) 2001 by John Steven Lasher. All Rights Reserved.


1937-38 North American Concerts

Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra:

8th November 1937, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

Tchaikovsky Symphony Number 4 in f minor

Corelli Suite for String Orchestra

Debussy Two Nocturnes for Orchestra: 'Fetes', 'Nuages'

R Strauss Till Eulenspiegel's Merry Pranks

Elgar Pomp and Circumstance (Number ????? ) encore

9th November 1937, Moorehead, Minnesota, USA

Same as Winnipeg, plus ?? encores

Brahms Hungarian Dances

Wagner Ride of the Valkyries ???

13th November, 1937, Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA (Northrop Auditorium)

Tchaikovsky Symphony Number 4 in f minor

Corelli Suite for String Orchestra (first Minneapolis performance)

Debussy Two Nocturnes for Orchestra: 'Fetes', 'Nuages'

Amfitheatrof American Panorama (North American premier)

19th November 1937, Minneapolis

Beethoven 'Emperor' Concerto (Rudolph Serkin, pf.)

Boccherini Suite in C major (first Minneapolis performance)

Respighi Pines of Rome

5th December, 1937 (Sunday afternoon), Minneapolis

All French Programme:

Auber The Bronze Horse

Franck Symphony in d minor

Dukas The Sorcerer's Apprentice

Saint-Saens Danse Macabre

17th December, 1937. Minneapolis.

All Brahms Programme:

'Academic Festival' Overture

Symphony Number 2 in D major

Concerto for Violin and Violoncello in A minor (Harold Ayers, vln., Frank Miller, vc.)

19th December 1937 (Sunday afternoon) Minneapolis.

All Russian Programme:

Glinka 'Russian and Ludmilla' Overture

Rimsky-Korsakov Scheherazade

Moussorgsky (orch Rimsky-Korsakov) Night on Bald Mountain

Tchaikovsky Marche Slav

Boston Symphony Orchestra:

13th January 1938. Sanders Theatre, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA.

Beethoven Symphony Number 7

Boccherini (ed. J Lauterbach) Suite in C major (first Boston perf.)

Rossini 'Semiramide' Overture

Dukas 'The Sorcerer's Apprentice' + encores?

21st, 22nd January, 1938. Symphony Hall, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.

Amfitheatrof American Panorama (first Boston performance)

Beethoven Overture to Lenore

Pizzetti Concerto dell ' Estate (first Boston performance)

+ other works and encores???

compiled by John Steven Lasher


film music:

The Beginning of the End [1947].

Suite from the Original Film Score. LABEL X [LXCD 8] [91772-00082] CD [ADD] (P) 1994 [18'10].

M-G-M Studio Symphony Orchestra (nee Elstree Studio SO), Amfitheatrof (conductor).

Lost Moment [1947].

Arrangement of Main Theme from the Original Film Score (arranger unknown). DECCA RECORDS (USA) [DL 8060] LP/lt. (O/P).

Victor Young and his Concert Orchestra

Major Dundee [1965].

Original Film Soundtrack Recording. COLUMBIA RECORDS (USA) [OS 2780] LP/2s. (O/P). Columbia Pictures Orchestra, Amfitheatrof (conductor). With Mitch Miller and his Chorus and Orchestra (re-recordings of selections not on the soundtrack).

The Mountain [1956].

Original Film Soundtrack Recording.

DECCA RECORDS (USA) [DL 8449] LP/ls. (O/P)

Paramount Pictures Orchestra, Amfitheatrof (conductor)

Mrs Miniver [1942]

Suite from the Original Film Score (arr. Black)

DECCA (AUSTRALIA) [436052-2] CD [ADD] (O/P) (P) 1991 [8'34]

London Festival Orchestra & Chorus, Stanley Black (conductor).

Note: Herbert Stothart is also listed as co-composer of this score.

Salome [1953] 'Dance of the Seven Veils'

from the Original Film Score.

DECCA RECORDS (USA) [DL 6026] LP/lt. (O/P).

Columbia Pictures Orchestra, Morris Stoloff (conductor)

RCA VICTOR [2792-2-RG] [7863-52792-2] CD [ADD] (P) 1987 [5'02]

National Philharmonic Orchestra, Charles Gerhardt (conductor).

Song of the South [1946]

Original Film Soundtrack Recordings.

DISNEY RECORDS [DQ 1205] LP/2s. (O/P). (w/dialogue and SFX)

Disney Studio Orchestra, Amfitheatrof (conductor)

DISNEY RECORDS [WDL 4001] LP/2t. (O/P) (2 music only cues)

Disney Studio Orchestra, Amfitheatrof (conductor)

Spanish Affair [1957]

Original Film Soundtrack Recording.

DOT RECORDS (USA) [DLP 3078] LP/2s. (O/P)

Paramount Pictures Orchestra, Amfitheatrof (conductor)

Talk of the Town [1942].

Selection from the Original Film Score.

MONSTER MOVIE MUSIC [MMM-1953] CD [DDD] (P) 2001 [3'03"]

Radio Symphony Orchestra of Slovakia, Masatoshi Mitsumoto (conductor).

Unidentified cue title reused in 20 Million Miles to Earth [1957]. Identified as 'Trial and Escape' on the film's cue sheets. CD album title: Mighty Jo Young.

Trial [1955]

Suite from the Original Film Score LABEL X [ATM CD 2007] [91772-20072] CD [ADD] (P) 1996 [4'11].

Members of the Australian Philharmonic Orchestra, Bremner (conductor).

KINOPANORAMA [KMV 291001] CD SINGLE [DDD] (P) 2001 [4'11]

Atrax Robustus Percussion Ensemble, Paul Sarcich (director).

Alternate take of the Bremner performance.

American Panorama for large symphony orchestra [1935].

LABEL X [LXCD 8] [91772 00082] CD [ADD] (P) 1994 [15'02] Orchestre de l'Association de Concerts Pasdeloup, Amfitheatrof (cond.) Recorded in Paris [1937] by Disques Pathe [PDT 40/41] 78s/4s.

Prince Igor (Overture) [1887] Alexander Borodin (composer).

LABEL X [LXCD 8] [91772 00082] CD [ADD] (P) 1994 [8'48]

E.I.A.R. Symphony Orchestra (Turin), Amfitheatrof (conductor).

Recorded by Italian Radio (RAI) at Teatro di Torino [1937]

English Parlophone [E 11368] 78s/2s. [UK, 1939]

American Decca [Red Label G-25822] 78s/2s. [USA, date unknown]

special commemorative CD edition:

KINOPANORAMA [KMV 291001] CD SINGLE [ADD/DDD] (P) 2001 [timings tba]

Limited-edition of 300 copies to commemorate the launch of the OFFICIAL DANIELE AMFITHEATROF WEBSITE on 29th October 2001 - the centenary of his birth in St Petersburg, Russia in 1901. The CD features several archival recordings [c. 1937 to 1956], including his concert work, American Panorama, his film scores, La Signora di Tutti, Song of the South, Salome 'Dance of the Seven Veils', The Last Nunt (studio rehearsals) and the 1992 digital stereo recording of the complete original score from Trail.


(c) 2001 Kinopanorama Music & Vision. All Rights Reserved.


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