The Music for Victory at Sea: Richard Rodgers, Robert Russell Bennett, and the Making of a TV Masterpiece (Eastman Studies in Music #190) (Hardcover)
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This long-awaited study explores the creation of NBC-TV's landmark 1952-53 WWII documentary series, with particular attention to its evocative Rodgers-Bennett score. Victory at Sea, NBC-TV's innovative 1952-53 WWII documentary, was eventually broadcast to more than 100 million viewers worldwide. Its episodes chronicled the war's conflicts while highlighting the US Navy's contributions, NBC having sourced footage from the military, governments, and newsreel agencies of fourteen nations. Victory's special distinction was its music, with each episode's nonstop score recorded by the acclaimed NBC Symphony Orchestra. The music was credited to Richard Rodgers-then at the height of his fame-as composer, and Robert Russell Bennett as arranger and conductor. In fact, Rodgers composed twelve piano themes; Bennett developed these endlessly for orchestra and, in addition, composed many hours of the score outright. Part One chronicles Victory's gestation and production at NBC, its reception, the series' afterlife in syndication and home video, and the score's "Gold Record" sales success on RCA records. Part Two examines each episode in turn, focusing on how the Bennett-scored music pairs with screen action. Every transformation of the much-used Rodgers themes is cited, along with the episodes' musical inter-relationships. The hundreds of musical examples generously sample the score's 111/2 hours of music. NBC's Victory has been neglected by Richard Rodgers's biographers and by film historians. As the series celebrates its 70th anniversary, the Rodgers-Bennett score here finally receives recognition for its artistry and power.