The Music for Victory at Sea
Title Details

396 Pages

22.8 x 15.2 cm

90 musical exx. and 5 b/w illus.

Series: Eastman Studies in Music

Series Vol. Number: 190

Imprint: University of Rochester Press

The Music for Victory at Sea

Richard Rodgers, Robert Russell Bennett, and the Making of a TV Masterpiece

by George J. Ferencz

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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 11½ 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.
Preface
Acknowledgments

Part One: Victory's Inception, Production, and Impact

1. Henry Salomon, NBC, the U.S. Navy, and Victory's Genesis
2. Assembling Victory's Production Team, Preparing an Episode
3. Victory's Debut Season: Sponsorship (or Not?), Promotion, Scheduling, and Awards
4. Richard Rodgers: Twelve Themes for Victory, the "Thirteen Hour Score" Legend, and Two Breakout Hits
5. Robert Russell Bennett: Preparing for Victory, Music for a Global War, and the Importance of F#
6. The NBC Symphony-and Victory's 1952-53 Recording Sessions
7. The Victory Scripts' Poetics
8. Robert Montgomery, C.S. Forester, and Victory
9. Victory on Records: The Commercial and "House" LPs
10. Victory Abridged: for Film (1954) and Television (1960)
11. Victory's Predecessors and Successors

Part Two: The Twenty-Six Victory Episodes

Introduction

EP1, "Design for War"
EP2, "The Pacific Boils Over"
EP3, "Sealing the Breach"
EP4, "Midway is East"
EP5, "Mediterranean Mosaic"
EP6, "Guadalcanal"
EP7, "Rings Around Rabaul"
EP8, "Mare Nostrum"
EP9, "Sea and Sand"
EP10, "Beneath the Southern Cross"
EP11, "The Magnetic North"
EP12, "The Conquest of Micronesia"
EP13, "Melanesian Nightmare"
EP14, "Roman Renaissance"
EP15, "D-Day"
EP16, "Killers and the Killed"
EP17, "The Turkey Shoot"
EP18, "Two If by Sea"
EP19, "Battle of Leyte Gulf"
EP20, "Return of the Allies"
EP21, "Full Fathom Five"
EP22, "The Fate of Europe"
EP23, "Target Suribachi"
EP24, "The Road to Mandalay"
EP25, "Suicide for Glory"
EP26, "Design for Peace"

Postscript
Appendix One Robert Russell Bennett: A Grandson's Victory Remembrance
Appendix Two Victory at Sea: A Chronology
Appendix Three Digest of Victory's Music-Scoring Statistics
Appendix Four Sample Shot List (EP26)
Appendix Five The 1959 Companion Book

Bibliography
Index

GEORGE J. FERENCZ taught music theory and arranging at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater from 1991 to 2019.

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Title Details

396 Pages

2.28 x 1.52 cm

90 musical exx. and 5 b/w illus.

Series: Eastman Studies in Music

Series Vol. Number: 190

Imprint: University of Rochester Press