Dramatic Vocalise Database

Friedhofer, Hugo (1901–81)

Boy on a Dolphin (1957)

“A film that gave Friedhofer unusual scope in instrumentation was Boy on a Dolphin (1957), a romantic, exotic story filmed in the Aegean Islands and beautifully photographed by Milton Krasner. The film contained footage that allowed for aural descriptions of mountains, a harbor, a monastery, the Acropolis, cafés, street scenes, and several long sequences of diving for ancient treasure:

The nature of the film called for music written in an idiom which has been current for approximately fifty years. In other words, it is music essentially romantic and impressionistic in style. Anything in the nature of avant-garde experimentation would have been a shocking intrusion, completely out of harmony with the film itself. Some austere souls might even call it ‘lush,’ with no intention of using that adjective in a complimentary sense. I won’t waste my time in vehement protestations. Southern Europe, and particularly the Mediterranean area, is hardly an Arctic wilderness.

Friedhofer’s score for this film also incorporated Greek folk music with no attempt at absolute authenticity.

The countries bordering the Mediterranean have been swapping cultures for centuries now, and to determine what is purely regional, and what has been borrowed, would take years of delving into the subject. With only ten weeks in which to write the music for Boy on a Dolphin, the best I could hope to achieve was a stylization which would be theatrically effective, rather than a completely truthful recreation, which might very well have turned out to be dull no matter how authentic.” 1



Phaedra sees the boy on a dolphin

clip 2

clip 3


1 Tony Thomas, Music for the Movies, 2nd ed., expanded and updated (Los Angeles: Silman-James Press, 1997), 205.