Song of My Heart


1h 25m 1948

Film Details

Also Known As
Tragic Symphony
Release Date
Jan 31, 1948
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Symphony Films, Inc.
Distribution Company
Allied Artists Productions, Inc.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 25m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
7,597ft

Synopsis

After World War II, while awaiting permission to enter Russia at a Trans-Caucasian checkpoint, Russian lieutenant Sergei Ivanov informs two American officers that the large crate he has with him contains documents, music scores, etc., belonging to famed Russian composer Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky. The Germans stole the relics during the war and Sergei has been assigned to repatriate them as his father Stephan had been Tchaikovsky's friend and manservant. Sergei then relates some details of Tchaikovksy's life to the Americans: At a rehearsal of his Swan Lake ballet, the orchestra's conductor quits, forcing Tchaikovsky to conduct the score himself. The Czar attends the premiere but is not impressed by the ballet. When an anonymous baroness offers to pay for the publication of his Third Symphony, Tchaikovsky rejects the offer as he does not wish to be regarded as a charity case. Later, at the Imperial Conservatory of Music, after Tchaikovsky and fellow composers Nikolay Rimsky-Korsakov, César Cui and Modest Moussorgsky congratulate Alexander Borodin on a new composition, the conservatory's director insists that they all should work together to produce a national music. Tchaikovsky states that great music cannot be created by a committee, and as he leaves the conservatory, he encounters Sophia Mirova, a second year student, singing one of his compositions. Eventually they marry, although Stephan advises against it, stating that Sophia is not the right girl for him. Sergei tells the American officers that Sophia proved to be frivolous and non-supportive and that the marriage soon ended in divorce. Later, as Sergei continues, Tchaikovsky is ill and working on his Piano Concerto in B-Flat Minor, when a letter from a mysterious female admirer is delivered, inviting him to recuperate at an Italian villa. His hostess is revealed to be the Princess Amalya, a beautiful young woman, whose father is an uncle to the Czar. They fall in love, but when Tchaikovsky wants her to accompany him to America, she refuses. As the Czar has apparently refused to approve their marriage, her father, a Grand Duke, arrives to take her home. Tchaikovsky then wanders all over Europe, goes to America and continues composing, eventually returning to Russia world famous. When Amalya and her father attend one of Tchaikovsky's concerts, the Grand Duke is considerably impressed by him and offers to help the young couple to reunite in Italy, but notes that it will take time to arrange. However, during a cholera epidemic, Tchaikovsky drinks contaminated water and becomes deathly ill. Stephan brings Amalya to his bedside but Tchaikovsky does not survive. Later at the checkpoint, Sergei and the officers attend a concert featuring Tchaikovsky's music.

Film Details

Also Known As
Tragic Symphony
Release Date
Jan 31, 1948
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Symphony Films, Inc.
Distribution Company
Allied Artists Productions, Inc.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 25m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
7,597ft

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

This film's working title was Tragic Symphony. The viewed print was incomplete with approximately six minutes missing. A Hollywood Reporter news item of October 1946 reported that, in addition to Benjamin Glazer and Nat Finston's planned biography of Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky, Hal B. Wallis intended to make another in England with James Mason as the composer. According to documents in the file on the film in the MPAA/PCA Collection at the AMPAS Library, prior to production, PCA administrator Joseph I. Breen warned writer/director Glazer "of the necessity of handling all situations very carefully in view of the known fact that Tchaikovsky was a sex pervert. It is for this reason that we felt any emphasis on the fact that he lead a 'woman less life' would be highly objectionable." After the film was completed, the PCA cut certain lines which inferred Tchaikovsky's homosexuality and admonished Glazer that "sex perversion, or any inference of it, is forbidden."
       A New York Times news item of February 2, 1947 reported that actor Frank Sundstrom, a contemporary of Ingrid Bergman at the Swedish Royal Dramatic Theatre, had been brought to Hollywood by David O. Selznick following his 1945 Broadway appearance in The Assassin, and that his portrayal of Tchaikovsky would be his screen debut. According to a December 14, 1947 NYT article, José Iturbi recorded the film's piano solos, and his hands May actually have peformed them on camera, but due to his obligations to M-G-M, the studio which held his contract, he received no screen credit and declined a fee.
       Although Charles Chaplin's longtime cameraman, Roland Totheroth, received his first credit for a non-Chaplin-directed film in decades, Song of My Heart was actually shot by Curtis Courant, a Polish-born cameraman with extensive credits in Europe, who had been denied membership by the cameramen's union local. A Hollywood Reporter news item stated that Courant had been permitted to shoot two other films, Monsieur Verdoux and Mad Wednesday, but the union required that a stand-by first cameraman be hired as well and Courant not be permitted to give orders or touch equipment. A Hollywood Reporter column of October 1, 1947 commented that although the film had cost just under $600,000, it looked "like an easy $2,000,000 on the screen." Although the CBCS lists Mary Scott in the role of "Fleurette," that character is missing from the film's official cast list and was not in the viewed print.