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Song of Love

Song of Love(1947)

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The working title of this film was A Love Story. The opening credits roll over a sequence in which "Clara" (Katharine Hepburn) is seen playing the piano in a command performance for the King of Bavaria. The order of the opening cast credits differs slightly from that of the closing credits. The film is prefaced by the following disclaimer: "In this story of Clara and Robert Schumann, of Johannes Brahms and Franz Liszt, certain necessary liberties have been taken with incident and chronology. The basic story of their lives remains a true and shining chapter in the history of music." Robert Schumann (1810-1856) met his prospective wife Clara Wieck (1819-1896) when he boarded with the Wieck family while studying the piano with her father. When Robert fell in love with Clara, who, at the time, was a sixteen-year old piano virtuoso, her father opposed the union, forcing the underaged Clara to petition the court to marry. Granted permission, the couple married the day before Clara's twenty-first birthday. Although biographical sources note that Clara loved touring and was a composer in her own right, her musical career was cut short by the arrival of the couple's eight children. In the early 1840's, Robert began to suffer from mental illness and was committed to an asylum after a suicide attempt in 1854. After Robert's death, Clara performed, taught and edited her husband's letters, becoming known as a champion and interpreter of his music. Johannes Brahms (1833-1897) met Robert Schumann in 1853. Schumann championed the young composer and arranged for the publication of his first songs and piano sonatas. Although Brahms was a constant visitor to the Schumann house, he never lived with the family. Brahms never overcame his passion for Clara, who was fourteen years his senior, and remained devoted to her until her death in 1896.
       According to an April 1945 Hollywood Reporter news item, M-G-M acquired the rights to Bernard Schubert's and Mario Silva's play in 1939, intending to produce it on Broadway. When the deal fell through, the studio decided to produce the property as a film in which Clara Schumann's role was to be tailored for Ingrid Bergman. According to an M-G-M publicity item contained in the AMPAS Library, Hepburn, whose piano playing, like that of her two co-stars, was dubbed by Artur Rubenstein, learned to play Schumann's "Carnival" for this picture. In addition to the songs listed in the credits, various selections from the music of Schumann, Liszt and Brahms were heard throughout the film. A December 1946 Hollywood Reporter news item notes that Cologne's Gurzenich concert hall, the world's oldest concert hall, which was leveled by the Nazis, was recreated on the M-G-M lot for the film, encompassing a three story sound stage, 75 by 175 feet. Hollywood Reporter news items in Hollywood Reporter and Los Angeles Times add that four of the Schumanns' grandchildren sued Loew's Inc. for $9,000,000 on the grounds that this film was "libelous, invaded their right of privacy and misappropriated a property right." The suit was dismissed. In his October 1954 decision, New York State Supreme Court Justice William C. Hecht, Jr. wrote: "The allegations of the complaint affirmatively admit that Robert Schumann and his sister were insane as depicted in defendant's motion picture."