Thematic Transformation in Korngold’s Robin Hood — 11 Comments

  1. It’s a terrific score isn’t it!! Thanks for the great discussion. I always thought thematic transformation was part of the DNA of music of the romantic period in general (as opposed to motivic development in the ‘classical era’). I guess this style of music suits film because of its potential to transform, as you’ve suggested, ideas relating to character and plot. I wonder, though, how sophisticated audiences are and how much they understood (and continue to understand) the relationship of the music to the film. For it to have mass appeal it must be stripped of complexity and the Korngold certainly has a more simplified quality than, say, the music of Bernard Herrmann (to name one).


    • Hi Sue – you raise a good point. How much of film music’s meaning do audiences perceive? It depends on a lot of factors, but I think that music is something whose meaning can be felt even if we don’t understand why. That’s part of what makes music so deeply effective yet often inexplicable. And in many ways, the narrative helps us understand the music as much as the music helps us understand the narrative. So the statement of a theme, for example, comes across much more clearly when it is associated with something in the narrative. And even then, it can be veiled and go unnoticed, at least by our conscious mind. Then there are those statements of leitmotifs that seem incongruous with their previous meaning. Marian’s motif in Robin Hood, for example – does this simply represent the character? It is associated with her before she falls in love with Robin, but also appears in the love scene. What does this mean exactly? Hard to say…

  2. hello. I collect film music mainly from the fifties and my favourite composer is dimitri tiomkin and I was wondering if you could ever do an analysis of his music, specifically ‘land of the pharaohs’,’fall of the roman empire’, and ‘the alamo’ and comment on his wonderful interpretations of his themes and harmonies from a russian and Slavic viewpoint. he wrote great folk melodies and ballads that I listen to and really enjoy. thanks for any information.

    • Hi Raphael – Thanks for the suggestions. I have yet to write about Tiomkin, but I’m sure I’ll get to him in the future. Cheers.

  3. Hey Mark! I listened again to this score – particularly the “Robin enters the castle” cue. This is Shostakovich, I feel; bi-tonality, lush orchestration, plenty of brass!! It’s very ‘classical’, this score. And very wonderful, always.

    Warner Brothers and their loud scores!! Bless them.

    • Bob, thanks for notifying me about the links. I’ve fixed them all. It seems my broken link finder wasn’t set properly. Hopefully it works now.

  4. Very nice concepts! I wonder if there’s any way to get the score of this symphonic suite. I haven’t found any possibility to get it, does somebody know??

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