Dramatic Vocalise Database

Friedhofer, Hugo (1901–81)

The Bishop’s Wife (1947)

The scores for The Bishop’s Wife and Joan of Arc (1948), both composed by Hugo Friedhofer (1902–81), are fundamentally intertwined. The very opening of the credits (“Samuel Goldwyn presents”) to The Bishop’s Wife begins with wordless chorus singing two successive chords, before the music continues with just the orchestra alone. These two chords also occur in Joan of Arc when Joan (Ingrid Bergman) magically identifies the disguised Dauphin (José Ferrer) in a crowd.1 Later in The Bishop’s Wife, Cary Grant, an angel in disguise, leads a blind man across a street filled with heavy traffic. As they cross, the approaching cars come to a sudden halt, accompanied by dramatic vocalization, signifying Grant’s supernatural status and ability.

(Nauman 2009, 244)

Friedhofer’s most charming score was written for The Bishop’s Wife, a 1948 Goldwyn picture in which Cary Grant appears as an angel and David Niven as a young bishop whose diligent efforts to raise money for a new cathedral are bringing him to the verge of an estrangement from his beautiful wife, Loretta Young. Grant, as Dudley, is a genial chap who performs all the required miracles but provokes jealousy in the bishop when the bishop’s wife apparently falls in love with their angelic guest. Friedhofer’s music is humorous and delightful. He uses a classical concerto grosso form for the opening and sparks it with the cheeky, earthy sounds of a saxophone for Dudley, the handsome, celestial visitor.” 2

Henry Koster directed both The Bishop’s Wife and The Robe (1953).

Hugo Friedhofer, orchestrator for Dark Victory (1939), composed scores for The Bishop’s Wife (1947), Joan of Arc (1948), and Boy on a Dolphin (1957), all of which include dramatic vocalization. He contributed to Steiner's Gone with the Wind (1939), although uncredited, and also was an orchestrator for The Sea Hawk (1940), The Sea Wolf (1941), Kings Row (1942), and The Constant Nymph (1943), all composed by Erich Korngold. In addition, Friedhofer, along with Fred Steiner, helped to complete the final score for The Greatest Story Ever Told (1965).



Opening Credits


1 For a detailed description of this scene, including a facsimile of the score, see Roy Prendergast, A Neglected Art: A Critical Study of Music in Films (New York: New York University Press, 1977), 217–18.

2 Tony Thomas, Music for the Movies, 2nd ed., expanded and updated (Los Angeles: Silman-James Press, 1997), 203.