Music Webmaster Len Mullenger


September 1999 Supplement


Max Steiner Gone with the Wind (with bonus tracks)   Sonic Images SID8088 [65.13]




Gone with the Wind almost needs no review, for who hasn't seen the movie and been swept away by the magnificent theme for Tara? Max Steiner's Gone with the Wind is one of the most celebrated icons of film music, alongside Star Wars and Psycho. The music defines the concept of an "epic" score: supreme strings, resounding brass, colorful layers, large orchestra, and a spacious panoramic canvas. Steiner used the leitmotif method to write an individual theme for each main character, saving the grandest one of all for Tara, the plantation. The score is a tapestry of themes for Scarlett, Rhett, Melanie, Ashley, Belle, Bonnie, as well as music for specific scenes such as "The Oath," and "Bonnie's Death."

The popularity of the score meant numerous re-recordings over time. The Sonic Images release is the 1998 digitally mastered version of the 1961 composer-approved recording conducted by Muir Matheson with the The London Sinfonia. The liner notes comment, "This authentic recording of the complete score was authorized by the composer." Max Steiner had originally written over three hours of music for the lengthy epic, though not all of it was used in the film. Although 148 minutes of the score is available in a 2 CD set released by Rhino Records, Steiner had originally selected about 38 minutes of music to represent the score's major themes for soundtrack release. It is these 38 minutes that are on this album. Die hard collectors may prefer the longer complete score, but in truth, the 38 suite Steiner wisely chose allows listeners to enjoy all the major themes and developments of the score in a rather reasonable amount of time. (There is another BMG/RCA release that is about eight minutes shorter. It has all the same tracks, except for the theme for "Return to Tara" and "Belle Watling.")

The quality of the sound on this album is commendable. The only drawback of the album is that the score suite is divided into only 2 tracks. The score flows smoothly, and without track pauses, it is rather hard to identify where one motif ends and the next begins. Of course, it also makes it hard for the listener to skip to hear a particular theme or the monumental "Return to Tara" finale over and over again.

There are six additional tracks of classic film music representing five scores (America, America; For Whom the Bell Tolls; Spellbound; The Cardinal; and The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie) tacked onto the end of this album. These excerpts are sensational. Quite in keeping with the same mood and style of Gone with the Wind, these cues are prodigious and eloquent. Classic film music fans get to keep yet more keepsakes of golden years past.


Helen San

We are grateful to Helen San ( for giving us permission to include this review which is currently appearing on her Film Music site.


Helen San

Return to Index