Huckleberry Finn Overture (1939)
FRANZ WAXMAN (trans. J. Durward Morsch)
In 1939, when Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer studio needed a showcase vehicle for its young, versatile star, Mickey Rooney, what better choice than the Mark Twain classic. Richard Thorpe directed a cast that included Rex Ingram, Walter Connolly, and William Frawley.
The Overture was arranged by Waxman for a radio broadcast to promote the release of the film. However, the performance never took place and the music was not rediscovered until 1986 while arranger Christopher Palmer was researching the MGM archives.
The opening and closing sections of this Overture feature a hoe-down type of theme that immediately evokes the American South, while, in its jauntiness, painting a portrait of Mark Twain’s famous character. The central episode, on the other hand, is a barcarole that musically portrays Huck and Jim’s meanderings on the Mississippi. After a Grand Pause (a Waxman signature), the jaunty theme returns for a final, exuberant summation.
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