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The Diary of Anne Frank

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Album Review

Alfred Newman's music for George Stevens' movie The Diary of Anne Frank (1959) has been issued on a good sounding and well-produced CD from Tsunami, containing eight minutes of music that was not previously available — that material consists principally of the main title, intermission, and exit music, which does isolate some themes associated with specific characters and the Frank family. Given the subject matter, that this is a serious film score is no surprise — as of 1958, when the movie went into production, some 14 years after the end of World War II, Hollywood had not done too many movies (forget major films) that even referred to the destruction of European Jewry by Nazi Germany, much less dealt with this event as their main subject, and everyone involved with the movie on a creative level, whatever their background, treated it as a rare and special opportunity to say something important through their work. That said, Newman's "Overture," which opens the album, has always seemed appropriately profound, but the rest is far more subtle, introspective, and lyrical, almost counter-intuitive to the moods, settings, and images that one associates with the Holocaust. That's because Newman based his score on the interior emotional life of its characters, rather than the exterior events around them. The result is one of the more beautiful bodies of movie music ever written for a Holocaust-related movie, and one of Newman's better psychologically oriented scores, surprisingly not far removed from his work on How Green Was My Valley. It also contains some of the most beautiful string writing of Newman's career. The CD production gives the decades-old recordings a full, rich sound, and the annotation is extremely thorough.


Born: 17 March 1901 in New Haven, CT

Genre: Soundtrack

Years Active: '30s, '40s, '50s, '60s, '70s

Alfred Newman (1901-1970) was, for much of his career, the most influential and respected composer and music director in Hollywood. His 44 Oscar nominations and nine Academy Awards are both records that are unlikely ever to be broken. The first-born of ten children to an impoverished produce seller in New Haven, CT, Newman manifested his musical interests very early, and by the age of eight was well-known locally as a piano prodigy. He played for virtuoso Jan Ignace Paderewski, who arranged a New...
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The Diary of Anne Frank, Alfred Newman
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