by Phil Lehman
In his illustrious career, Dimitri Tiomkin wrote more than 120 scores for films beginning with RESURRECTION in 1929 through TCHAIKOVSKY in 1971. In addition to composing music, Tiomkin wrote many songs created as an intricate part of his music scores. He also wrote ballet sequences for his wife’s ballet troupe featured in several films.
Sometimes Tiomkin would use the main theme for a film and use a lyricist to write the words appropriate for the film, such as for FALL OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE. The main theme was used with words and played as a song during the intermission.
Sometimes he would write a song which would be played at the appropriate time in the film. An example of this would be the song “Julie” from TAKE THE HIGH GROUND and played during a restaurant scene.
There are many interesting stories related to Tiomkin’s songs written as part of a score. I will relate, probably, the most famous. In 1955, Dimitri Tiomkin was nominated for best score for the HIGH AND THE MIGHTY. Tiomkin and Ned Washington were also nominated for the best song, which was the main theme with lyrics. If you view the film today on DVD, the song version is not there. The popular title song was included in only one print of the film so as to qualify it for an Academy Award nomination. It was not heard on the prints issued for the general theatrical release of the film in 1954, nor in the restoration done in 2005.
A number of the songs written into Tiomkin’s scores can only be heard in the films themselves because they were not published at the time of the film’s release. An example would be the song “It’s a Wonderful Life” from the film of the same name. On the other hand, many of the songs written by Mr. Tiomkin for his film scores were published and sold as sheet music to coincide with the release of the film. The most famous of these would probably be “Do Not Forsake Me” from the film HIGH NOON.
I would like to add here that there have been many film theme records and CD albums produced over the years, which now enables the listener to hear many of these unpublished songs. Some of the releases are from the original soundtracks and some are re-recordings. An example of an original soundtrack recording would be the song and theme from RAWHIDE performed by Frankie Lane on the CD album My Rifle, My Pony, and Me produced by Bear Family Records in 1993. An example of a re-recording would be “Strange are the Ways of Love” from the film THE YOUNG LAND. This recording is part of the four CD set called The Alamo The Essential Film Music Collection of Dimitri Tiomkin produced by Silva Screen Records in 2004. Another good example on this album would be the two unused songs from the TV show THE WILD WILD WEST newly recorded for inclusion in that collection.
With the above introduction, the purpose of this essay is to show the covers and artwork of original sheet music composed by Dimitri Tiomkin of themes and songs published during his career. The cover artwork of sheet music has always been a collector’s dream for as long as sheet music has been published. The obvious attempt was to display designs that would sell sheet music to a relatively limited market. Sheet music of film themes and songs did not really take-off until the 1950s as another way to expose a film to musically inclined fans. There was, however, some film sheet music produced earlier and even before there was sound in films. In my collection, I have the theme from the 1927 production of WINGS, which is an early example of a score written specifically for a silent film and an even rarer example of sheet music of the theme specifically written for the film.
Over the years, I have collected many pieces of Tiomkin’s original published sheet music. There are some I do not have and will note this when discussing that theme. Here is the sheet music in chronological order of the film’s release date.
ALICE IN WONDERLAND – 1933
ALICE IN WONDERLAND was a live action fantasy based on the story written by Lewis Carroll. Alice’s fantastic adventures take her to some of the most memorable characters imagined. For the 1933 film ALICE IN WONDERLAND, there were two separate pieces of sheet music published. The most interesting was a song folio which contained 12 songs written for the film by Tiomkin and Nathaniel Finston. The front of this folio is shown below, on the left, and the back included pictures of the main stars of the film.
The film was originally released at 90 minutes, and shortly thereafter cut to 77 minutes. The reason seems to be that it was not considered to be a very good movie, even though it was the first film to use cameos by 43 famous stars at that time. The DVD version currently available is also 77 minutes. I have seen various versions over the years, but I have never seen the complete film at 90 minutes. There is no way of telling what was cut in those 13 minutes. It is a good assumption, however, that all the songs were removed, because none of the songs are in the 77 minute DVD. The folio shown here, above left, was 37 pages, contained pictures from the film, and all 12 songs written for the film.
The other sheet music, above on the right, produced for ALICE IN WONDERLAND was titled “Inspired by the Paramount Picture Alice in Wonderland” and is a song written by Dimitri Tiomkin and Nathaniel Finston, with lyrics by Leo Robin. The song is published on 7 pages, and the cover artwork is shown here.
LOST HORIZON – 1937
LOST HORIZON was an epic scale journey to the enchanted paradise of Shangri-La. Frank Capra and Tiomkin had been friends for several years, and Capra took a chance when he hired Tiomkin to score the film. As a precaution, he also hired Max Steiner as a backup. It was Steiner who actually conducted the score.
The sheet music shown says that it is the love theme, and it shows that the lyrics were by Gus Kahn who was a popular lyricist of that time. The film’s soundtrack uses a voiceless choir for the opening credits and closing credits, as well as the entrance to Shangri-La. This theme is the same as on the sheet music, but the lyrics were never sung in the film.
THE GREAT WALTZ – 1938
THE GREAT WALTZ was a biographical film loosely based on the life of Johann Strauss. Dimitri Tiomkin adapted his score from the incredible compositions by the composer with lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II. There were two songs featured in the film. “One Day When We Were Young” is shown here. “I’m in Love with Vienna” was also published with the same art work. Adaptation by Dimitri Tiomkin was the credit given on the cover of the sheet music.
DUEL IN THE SUN – 1946
DUEL IN THE SUN was David O. Selznick’s ambitious attempt to duplicate the success of GONE WITH THE WIND. It was a big, brawling, engrossing story of a half breed, Jenifer Jones, caught between two brothers, Joseph Cotton and Gregory Peck.
Displayed is a song called “A Duel of Two Hearts” from the film. The song is by Tiomkin and lyrics by Stanley Adams and Maxson Judel and is the main theme with lyrics. The restored road show DVD (2000) does not have this or any other vocal version. There was a bootleg album of the music from the film made in the 1980s. The album claimed to be the first recording of the original soundtrack, and the poor quality would seem to verify that it was. Interesting is that there is a vocal version of the theme on that LP, sung by Larry Douglas. The lyrics sung on the album are the same lyrics as in the sheet music being described here. Another interesting fact about the sheet music is that it is called the “Love Theme,” but it is really the main title theme and not used as the love theme.
The main titles do not list any songs. There was another song published called “Headin’ Home.” If it was used in the film, it had to be as an instrumental without lyrics. The artwork for this song is also shown here.
THE MEN – 1950
THE MEN is a story about soldiers crippled by war. It starred Marlon Brando as a recovering paraplegic. There was no main title theme in this film, only the sounds of drums as soldiers advanced to a battle. The sheet music shown is a song called “Love Like Ours” with lyrics by John Lehmann. It is sung in a restaurant as Marlon Brando and Teresa Wright enter and sit down to eat. The song and the female artist are not credited. A short version of the song is also sung during the end credits showing the actors appearing in the film.
HIGH NOON – 1952
Perhaps Dimitri Tiomkin’s largest contribution to the movie industry was his introduction of a title song that could significantly increase the profit of a film. The impact of a song, that could affect a film the way “Do Not Forsake Me” did for HIGH NOON, has since been tried by almost every composer of film music. Another reason this song was such a phenomena was the fact that it was used during many parts of the film as an intricate, unique way to enhance the story line throughout the film. The use of the song in this way made the film a huge success, and this technique was used many times over on subsequent films, often by Tiomkin himself. The lyrics were written by one of Tiomkin’s favorite lyricist, Ned Washington. The song won the Academy Award for best song in 1952, as well as an Oscar for best film score.
THE STEEL TRAP – 1952
THE STEEL TRAP is a story about a bank employee who steels a large amount of money and then, having a change of heart, attempts to return it before the funds are missed. The song “You Mean So Much to Me” is sung in a night club/restaurant while Joseph Cotton and Teresa Wright are eating and dancing. The singer is uncredited. I do not own this sheet music. The picture is a scan of the cover from a different source.
THE FOUR POSTER – 1952
This enchanting film follows the story of a couple from their wedding day through their deaths. The only actors are the husband and wife played by Rex Harrison and Lilli Palmer. The score features several themes, but one was also a song called “If You’re in Love.” The song was used twice, near the end of the film and at the very end, by an uncredited female singer. I do not own this sheet music. The picture is a scan of the cover from a different source.
RETURN TO PARADISE – 1953
RETURN TO PARADISE is a story, based on a book by James Michener, of love lost in the South Pacific. The theme is sung during the opening credits and partially again during the tragic drowning of Gary Cooper’s girlfriend. The female singer is not credited in title sequence. The sheet music shown represents the music and lyrics used in the main title, as well as in the film itself. The lyrics are by Ned Washington.
BLOWING WILD – 1953
BLOWING WILD is a story about drilling for oil in South America starring Gary Cooper and Anthony Quinn. The theme song shown is called “The Ballad of Black Gold” and was sung during the main titles by Frankie Lane. It was also used in the body of the film, as well as in the end titles. The words were by Paul Francis Webster, another of Tiomkin’s favorite lyricists.
TAKE THE HIGH GROUND – 1953
TAKE THE HIGH GROUND was shot on location at Fort Bliss, Texas and was about training young men to become fighting machines. The sheet music shown is a song from the film called “Julie.” This song is sung in the background and is used as a means to show Richard Widmark’s desire to be with his girlfriend, Elaine Stewart. It starts while Widmark is in his barracks and moves to the officer’s club where a jukebox is shown, implying that it is being sung on a record. The song is written by Tiomkin and lyrics by Charles Wolcott. It is interesting to note that the song is not listed in the film’s credits.
The main theme song is used in the opening credits, end credits, and sung by an un-credited choir. Although I cannot find any reference that the main title song was ever made into sheet music, it is very likely that it was. It is a rousing march written by Tiomkin and Ned Washington. (Both songs are on the Film Score Monthly soundtrack album.)
CEASE FIRE – 1953
CEASE FIRE is one of the most unusual 3D movies made. It was produced and photographed entirely on the battlefields of the Korean war. Dimitri Tiomkin’s terrific score is enhanced by three-channel stereophonic sound, extremely rare for 1953. Tiomkin and Ned Washington wrote the song “We are Brothers in Arms.” The song, however, is only used at the very end of the movie, and it is hardly audible on the soundtrack. The opening credits consist only of drums while showing soldiers advancing on the battlefield. It is interesting that the film’s opening credits say “song” by Tiomkin and Washington, and not the name of the song. I do not own this sheet music. The picture is from the image Gallery of this website.
I CONFESS – 1953
Priest Montgomery Cliff hears a killer’s confession, and his vows forbid him to speak. The evidence seems to point to Cliff as the prime suspect. The main title sequence uses the theme song called “Love, Look What You’ve Done to Me.” It uses a solo soprano in a very lush, innocent voice to set the stage for the drama in the film. The song is used in this way throughout the score. The sheet music shown lists the title and also says that it is the “Theme Song of the Picture, I Confess.” The song and the female singer are not credited in the main title sequence. The lyrics are by Ned Washington. I do not own this sheet music. The picture is a scan of the cover from a different source.
THE HIGH AND THE MIGHTY – 1954
Dimitri Tiomkin’s third Academy Award was for the score of THE HIGH AND THE MIGHTY. It was a story about a terrifying flight, when a pending disaster strikes high above the Pacific Ocean. The passengers, each with their own story and associated music, become the central story line.
The song has the same name as the title of the film, and is listed as a song with lyrics by Ned Washington in the opening credits. As mentioned at the beginning of this article, except for one print for Academy Awards eligibility, the song was never used in the film. The theme, with the vocal chorus used in only one print, can only be heard on the bootleg CD soundtrack album. The theme was also whistled by John Wayne (actual whistling was done by Muzzy Marcelino). A wordless, female choir was used to enhance the intensity of the action, once during a love scene on the crippled plane and again as the crew realizes that they might be able safely land the aircraft. The most suspenseful moment in the film occurs while the crew is looking for the runway lights, and the music heightens the tension. Then, as the plane is landing, the music explodes with a male and female chorus and John Wayne utters the famous line, “Now I lay me down to sleep.“
Tiomkin lost the best song award to “Three Coins in a Fountain” by Sammy Cahn and Jule Styne. It is possible that the Academy members were upset over the nomination of a song that was not actually sung in the film.
A BULLET IS WAITING – 1954
After crashing their small plane in the wilderness, a sheriff and his prisoner struggle on an isolated ranch occupied by woman who falls in love with the accused. The sheet music shown called “Jamie” is not mentioned in the main title credits, and it is not sung in the movie. It is, however, the rich, lush main theme of the score written by Tiomkin. There is even a scene where Jean Simmons is listening to a music box, which is playing the main theme. The words on the sheet music are by Mann Curtis.
THE ADVENTURES OF HAJJI BABA – 1954
John Derek falls for the Sheik’s promised daughter, Elaine Stewart, which leads to an exciting desert romance. The sheet music shown is the theme song sung by Nat “King” Cole. The vocal lyrics by Cole are used effectively throughout the film and score. Words are by Ned Washington.
STRANGE LADY IN TOWN – 1955
Greer Garson is the Boston physician who arrives in Santa Fe to open a practice. This is a lighthearted, brawling drama with romantic affections by the town’s existing doctor, Dana Andrews. The sheet music shown is the song that has the same name as the movie, and is sung over the main title credits. The lyrics are by Ned Washington and it is sung by Frankie Laine.
LAND OF THE PHARAOHS – 1955
LAND OF THE PHARAOHS is large scale epic filmed in Egypt using thousands of extras. The story is about a Pharaoh’s efforts to insure his afterlife by having slaves construct the most lavish and well secured pyramid ever built. Joan Collins is the beautiful queen whose greed leads to murder and a stunning revenge at the end. The sheet music shown is the piano solo of the main theme, which is the basis of the spectacular film score.
FRIENDLY PERSUASSION – 1956
The warm, winning, charming, and beautifully made Civil War film about Quakers starred Gary Cooper and Dorothy McGuire. The theme, “Thee I Love” is sung over the main titles by Pat Boone. The song is heard by a choir several times in the film, and is also sung again by Pat Boone during the short, end title sequence.
There were also four additional songs written and used in the film. They are titled:
“Marry Me! Marry Me!”
“Coax Me A Little”
“The Mocking Bird in the Willow”
The sheet music shown is the “Thee I Love” theme, but listed on the cover are the other four songs. Those songs were also published, with the same artwork. “Thee I Love” was nominated for an Academy Award with lyrics by Paul Francis Webster, but lost to “Que Sara Sara” from THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH, written by the team of Jay Livingston and Ray Evens.
TENSION AT TABLE ROCK – 1956
TENSION AT TABLE ROCK is about a man played by Richard Egan, wrongfully accused of murdering a gunslinger in cold blood. He sets off in search of a new life by creating a new identity which ultimately catches up to him. The sheet music shown is a song called “Wait for Love” by Tiomkin and Ned Washington. The title of this song is not listed in the credits, and is not performed in the film. Another song called “The Ballad of Wes Tancred” is performed in the film to help tell the story (similar idea to HIGH NOON). It is listed in the main title credits, but it was not written by Tiomkin. Sheet music was produced for this song, with music by Josef Myron and lyrics by Robert Wells. The question to be asked is: Why was a ballad, so important to the plot of the film, not written by the composer who invented this kind of scoring, especially if that composer is Dimitri Tiomkin?
GIANT – 1956
GIANT is a movie of huge scale and grandeur about Texas and is based on the novel by Edna Ferber. The main title is a very strong version of the GIANT theme and is sung by a wordless chorus. The theme is also put to words by Paul Francis Webster and is called “This Then is Texas” which is the sheet music shown here. It is sung by the chorus with lyrics in the Exit Music. The main title credits say that another song, “ There’s Never Been Anyone Else But You” is in the film, and sheet music was published for it. The music, however, was not used with the lyrics. There was still another song written for the film called “Jett Rink Ballad.” Sheet music was produced for this song, but it is not credited in the main titles. It was used only as an orchestral theme to identify the Jett Rink character. The sheet music cover artwork is the same for all three songs, but different colors were used for each cover. Another interesting fact, but not well known, is that the GIANT main theme and lyrics were, at some time, considered to become the Texas State song.
GUNFIGHT AT THE OK CORRAL – 1957
Burt Lancaster (Wyatt Earp) and Kirk Douglas (Doc Holliday) stand up to the Clantons at the OK Corral. The theme song, with the same name as the film, was used in the opening and closing credits and several times in the film. It was sung by Frankie Lane, with lyrics by Ned Washington. I do not own this sheet music. The picture is a scan of the cover from a different source.
NIGHT PASSAGE – 1957
James Stewart plays a railroad guard hired to protect the payroll from bandits, including his kid brother, actor Audie Murphy. Stewart’s character plays an accordion and his playing and singing is an important part of his character and the film itself. Stewart sings “You Can’t Get Far Without a Railroad” and “Follow the River” in the film. A male chorus sings “Follow the River” during the main and end title credits. Both songs are written by Tiomkin and Ned Washington. The sheet music shown is “Follow the River.” I do not own this sheet music. The picture is a scan of the cover from a different source.
SEARCH FOR PARADISE – 1957
The fourth travelogue Cinerama production captures both the cinematic exploratory imagination and shows what a dream paradise might look like on earth. It was narrated by Lowell Thomas, who created the concept for the film as well as appearing in it. The film was the largest Cinerama production at the time, and the scoring was assigned to Dimitri Tiomkin. Songs were written by Tiomkin, lyrics by Ned Washington and Lowell Thomas, and sung by Metropolitan Opera star, Robert Merrill. Four songs were written for the score:
“Search for Paradise”
“The Happy Land of Hunza”
Shown here is the SEARCH FOR PARADISE theme. The other songs had the same cover artwork.
THE YOUNG LAND – 1959
THE YOUNG LAND is a Western about a race war between Americans and Mexicans. The title song is called “Strange are the Ways of Love.” It was written by Tiomkin and Ned Washington, and was sung during the opening and closing credits by Randy Sparks. It was also sung in Spanish within the film. The sheet music shown has a picture of Gogi Grant, saying that she recorded the song on RCA Victor #7294 records. The song was nominated for an Academy Award, but lost to “High Hopes” from A HOLE IN THE HEAD sung by Frank Sinatra and written by James Van Heusen and Sammy Cahn.
WILD IS THE WIND – 1958
The story is about a sheep rancher, who goes to Italy to marry his dead wife’s sister, and then brings her home to Nevada. After an introduction and music prelude, the main titles are presented with the title song sung by Johnny Mathis. The sheet music shown here is theme by Tiomkin and Ned Washington. In 2014, La La Land Records released a CD that claimed to be the complete score. This release, however, did not have the vocal of the theme as is on the film’s soundtrack. The main title theme, sung by Johnny Mathis, can be heard on the original Columbia Soundtrack LP CL 1090 released with the film in 1958. The WILD IS THE WIND theme was nominated for a Academy Award, but lost to the song “All the Way” from JOKER IS WILD sung by Frank Sinatra and written by James Van Heusen and Sammy Cahn.
THE OLD MAN AND THE SEA – 1958
Dimitri Tiomkin won his fourth Academy Award for the score to this film about an aging Cuban fisherman who is down on his luck. He catches a huge marlin, but failing strength and a relentless the sea are too much of a challenge. Shown here is the main theme played throughout the film. A song called “I Am Your Dream” is sung by a choir sparsely. The artwork for both pieces is the same, and I do not own the sheet music for the song.
RIO BRAVO – 1959
John Wayne is the big guy with the battered hat. Dean Martin is the ragged woman-wrecked castoff. Ricky Nelson is the rockin’ baby faced gunfighter. These are the good guys who fight the real bad guys in this wonderful Howard Hawks directed western. From a film score and song perspective, this film had everything. The sheet music shown, “Rio Bravo,” is the theme played during opening credits. It is also sung by Dean Martin at the end of the film in the closing credits. ”My Rifle, My Pony, and Me” is sung by Dean Martin and Ricky Nelson. The “Deguello” is played throughout the film to show the good guy’s hopelessness of the situation. Paul Francis Webster wrote the lyrics. The artwork for all three songs is the same.
THE ALAMO – 1960
The score from THE ALAMO ranks as one of Tiomkin’s greatest. He crafted a complex score based on the multiple plots and sub-plots. Folk-like music complementing the grandest of action sequences define this great film and its music.
Tiomkin wrote four songs that were used throughout, as thematic music, sung by a male and female chorus, and as orchestral arrangements. The four songs are pictured here as four separate pieces of sheet music with lyrics by Paul Francis Webster. They are:
“Ballad of the Alamo”
“The Green Leaves of Summer”
“Here’s to the Ladies”
“Here’s to the Ladies” was also sung by Chill Wills in the cantina scene. “Tennessee Babe” was also sung in a birthday scene by Ken Curtis. “The Green Leaves of Summer” was also sung by a male and female chorus, without orchestral accompaniment, in a beautiful and inspiring arrangement the night before the final battle as the defendants contemplate their last hours on earth.
Previously in this essay, I have only showed one cover when the cover artwork was the same for different songs in the same film. In the case of THE ALAMO, the cover artwork shown for each song was similar, but different, as the reader can see. It is interesting to note that only three songs are listed in the opening credits, not acknowledging “The Ballad of The Alamo.” I believe that this was a mistake, because “Ballad” was sung during the intermission as well as during the final scene along with “Tennessee Babe” and “The Green Leaves of Summer.” “Green Leaves of Summer” was the most popular of the four songs composed. It was nominated for the Academy Award for best original song, only to lose to “Never on Sunday” by Manos Hatzidakis.
THE UNFORGIVEN – 1960
The UNFORGIVEN was a gritty Western tackling hateful prejudice. Tiomkin’s task was to balance family loyalty over outside bigotry, and he did this with a beautiful, sweeping theme. On the sheet music shown, THE UNFORGIVEN theme is called “The Need for Love” with lyrics by Ned Washington. In the opening credits, this song is not mentioned, nor is it used in the film. The theme from the film is the music in the sheet music, and is used throughout the film in various orchestral arrangements. The song was probably written for the film in hopes of an Academy Award nomination, but might have been rejected by the director John Huston or the producer James Hill.
THE SUNDOWNERS – 1960
1960 was a busy year for Dimitri Tiomkin, scoring three important films. This film took place in the wild open spaces of 1920s Australia. His main theme, shown here, uses harmonica, accordion, and xylophone and is used throughout the film in varying ways as the basis of the score.
RAWHIDE – 1959 to 1966
RAWHIDE was a CBS TV production, televised with a total of 217 episodes. Dimitri Tiomkin and Ned Washington wrote the extremely popular main theme, which can still be heard today in various forms such as movies and TV commercials due to its powerhouse notes! The theme was sung by Frankie Lane and the sheet music shown contains his picture, as opposed to the series stars. I do not own this sheet music. The picture is a scan of the cover from another source.
THE GUNS OF NAVARONE – 1961
Carl Forman’s association with Dimitri Tiomkin began in 1945, and continued until THE GUNS OF NAVARONE. Their most important collaboration, between screenwriter/producer and composer, was for the film HIGH NOON in 1952. GUNS is a classic example where everything went right, emerging as an engrossing and suspenseful World War II classic. The sheet music shown here is the main theme, and is used throughout the film in varying orchestral versions along with other themes. The theme has lyrics written by Paul Francis Webster, but not shown on the sheet music and not used in the film. The most famous version of the song was performed by Mitch Miller and his Sing Along Chorus, as a popular version of the song.
“Yassu” was a song performed in the film a couple of times. The translation of this Greek title is “farewell.” It was a gorgeous melody which appeared as an orchestral piece during an almost love scene. It was again used at the end of the film by a male and female chorus, slowly and beautifully bidding farewell to the picturesque Aegean Islands and the end of the film. “Yassu” was never published as sheet music.
The opening credits mentions that “songs” are by Tiomkin and Webster, but there is only one song, Yassu, and the credits do not mention the song by name.
TOWN WITHOUT PITY – 1961
Kirk Douglas starred in this gripping drama about four soldiers who raped a girl during the post occupation of Germany after World War II. Tiomkin wrote a jazzy score with a title song called “Town Without Pity.” The theme song, shown here, was sung by Gene Pitney during the opening and closing credits, as well as in several scenes during the film. In addition, it was used as source music in some bar-room scenes. The song was nominated for an Academy Award, but lost to “Moon River” from BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY’S written by Henry Mancini and Johnny Mercer.
THE LAST SUNSET – 1961
This film was scored by Ernest Gold, but the main theme was written by Dimitri Tiomkin. The story is about a complicated love triangle between Kirk Douglas, Rock Hudson, and Dorothy Malone. The song written by Tiomkin and Ned Washington is called “Pretty Little Girl in the Yellow Dress” and is shown here. What is interesting about the music in the film is that, although not scored by Tiomkin, the song is used predominately in the film both as vocal and instrumental orchestrations. It was sung by Kirk Douglas several times and was used instrumentally as the bases of the score. In other words, the score is credited to Ernest Gold but it was almost completely Tiomkin’s music. Warren Sherk wrote an article for the Official Dimitri Tiomkin Web Site, in which he describes in detail why the music and song were written as they were. Part 1 of his article was written in December 2018, and part 2 was written in March 2019.
55 DAYS AT PEKING – 1963
The film is a stunning Hollywood epic, a powerful production with a cast of thousands that packs the screen with action and romance. It was produced by Samuel Bronston, and was the beginning of a scoring relationship between Bronston and Tiomkin that lasted for three films in the 1960s.
Two pieces of sheet music were published with the same artwork. Shown here is the “Peking Theme” and was also called “So Little Time” when used with lyrics by Paul Francis Webster. The other sheet music is titled “55 Days at Peking.” This theme is also referred to “Moon Fire” on the CD album liner notes, but that name is not on the sheet music.
“So Little Time” was recorded by Andy Williams as a 45 RPM single. This version is used as the exit music in the road show presentation. “So Little Time” was nominated for an Academy Award, but lost to “Call Me Irresponsible” from the film PAPA’S DELICATE CONDITION by Jimmy Van Heusen and Sammy Cahn.
FALL OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE – 1964
The film is an action-packed look at the beginning of the fall of the Roman Empire. It depicts the greed and grandeur that was Rome. With a budget of $20 million and a stunning 1/3 mile replica of the Roman Forum, it was one of the most lavishly produced historical epics. If THE ALAMO is considered Tiomkin’s last, greatest Western score, then FALL OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE has to be the last, greatest score of his career. The main title music is called “The Fall of Love.” It is used throughout the film along with many other themes. The sheet music shown is the song with words by Ned Washington. Tiomkin had the words translated into Italian and those are sung beautifully by a large, mixed chorus during the intermission. There is one other scene late in the film where the song was edited into a scene instead of using Tiomkin’s original arrangement written for that scene.
In addition to the “Fall of Love” sheet music, a compilation of themes was also published and called Music Highlights by Dimitri Tiomkin from Fall of the Roman Empire. The cover artwork for this compilation was the same as that of the song. The selections included were:
“The Fall of Love”
“Nights in Rome”
“The Dawn of Love”
CIRCUS WORLD – 1964
The wondrous world of a circus in the early 1900s is the setting for the third and final collaboration between Samuel Bronston and Dimitri Tiomkin. Their close professional relationship might have continued except that the poor box office performance of CIRCUS WORLD and 55 DAYS AT PEKING bankrupted the company.
The sheet music shown is the theme from the film called “Circus World.” It is a beautiful, haunting song that sets the stage for the challenges experienced by John Wayne’s circus company.
The selections included are:
“Toni and Giovanna”
“Buffalo Gal” (adapted and arranged by Tiomkin)
“ Little Giovanna”
“John (Duke) Wayne March”
“Bois De Boulogne”
Note that the “John Wayne March” was titled as a tribute to the extremely close professional relationship between Tiomkin and Wayne. It is a beautiful, bombastic march used for several circus parade scenes. I do not know of another example where a song title honors an actor.
36 HOURS – 1965
36 HOURS is an unusual World War II espionage thriller involving a German plot to under-mind the allied plans for the invasion of Europe in 1944. The main title sequence uses a theme predominate in the score consisting of pulsating, military music. The sheet music shown is called “Theme from 36 Hours.” It is also subtitled “A Heart Must Learn to Cry.” The sheet music shown is not the main theme, but a song written to reflect the female lead’s inability to love. The song was recorded by an unknown studio singer and chorus. The lyrics were written by Paul Francis Webster, but not used in the film.
THE WAR WAGON – 1967
John Wayne and Kirk Douglas work to rob an armored wagon filled with a large shipment of gold. Dimitri Tiomkin was up for his last western in his long career. The sheet music shown is called “Ballad of the War Wagon.” The lyrics were written by Ned Washington and sung in the main titles by Ed Ames. The theme was used many times, both in orchestral and vocal versions. It was even used as source music in a piano piece in a saloon. As a side note, THE WAR WAGON sheet music was the rarest and most expensive I have ever purchased. I have only seen it for sale once in good enough condition to buy, and I did.
This essay has covered forty of Dimitri Tiomkin’s films and the associated original, published sheet music. Except where noted, I own all the sheet music displayed and discussed. I am not saying this article represents every piece of Tiomkin’s sheet music published. These are what I have been able to find from my collection as well as various other sources. There could be other sheet music by Tiomkin that I am not aware of, and I would appreciate knowing about them and seeing scans of the artwork.
Please note that there are many examples of Tiomkin sheet music published later because of his immense popularity. The best example of this would be The Dimitri Tiomkin Anthology published in 2009 by Hal Leonard Corporation, which contained fifty themes and songs. In that compilation of Tiomkin’s work, many selections were originally published at the time of the film’s release and are represented in the above essay.
Phil Lehman is a lifelong fan of composer Dimitri Tiomkin. Over his lifetime he has collected all of the composer’s music soundtracks and nearly all of the sheet music for published songs. Lehman corresponded with Dimitri during his lifetime and continues to correspond with Olivia Tiomkin. He provides the “Tiomkin on TCM” monthly listings for this website.