Dramatic Vocalise Database

Friedhofer, Hugo (1901–81)

Joan of Arc (1948)

The scores for The Bishop’s Wife (1947) and Joan of Arc, 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.
[See mm. 31–33 in the following example.]

In Joan of Arc, two places in particular emphasize the religious/numinous aspect. While in prison, Joan prays for forgiveness for feeling fear at the prospect of her execution by fire. Dramatic vocalization (including the two-chord motive previously mentioned) sounds as she hears something we cannot. Joan says, “You speak to me, and I denied you.” It is a redemptive moment, one of transformation and forgiveness. The voices we hear are symbolic of the voice of God she hears. Later, while burning on the stake, Joan speaks to God, accompanied by dramatic vocalization, again with the two-note chord sounding as she cries out, “Jesus.” An image of a bright light behind clouds appears on the screen with the final musical climax and the end of the movie.

(Nauman 2009, 244)

Victor Fleming also directed Gone with the Wind (1939) and The Wizard of Oz (1939).

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).

An analysis of the following “The Dauphin Revealed” clip from Roy Prendergast, Film music: A Neglected Art: A Critical Study of Music in Films (New York: New York University Press, 1977), 217–19:



The Dauphin Revealed

[0:34:50–0:35:26] Joan magically picks the real Dauphin out of the crowd.

Joan’s Prayer

[0:57:05–0:57:22] Joan prays to God before the first battle of the movie.

Joan’s Revelation

[2:12:45–2:14:06] Joan’s revelation in prison before her execution. Chorus as “voice of God.”

Joan at the Stake

[2:24:38–2:25:40] Joan burning on the stake. [Transformative vocalization—shining light of God, etc.]