Song Without End

Song Without End

VHS cover
Directed by Charles Vidor
George Cukor
Produced by William Goetz
Written by Oscar Millard
Starring Dirk Bogarde
Geneviève Page
Music by Morris Stoloff
Harry Sukman
Franz Liszt
Cinematography James Wong Howe
Distributed by Columbia Pictures
Release dates
  • August 11, 1960 (1960-08-11)
Running time
141 min.
Country United States
Language English
Box office $1,500,000 (US/ Canada)[1]

Song Without End, subtitled The Story of Franz Liszt (1960) is a biographical film romance made by Columbia Pictures. It was directed by Charles Vidor, who died during the shooting of the picture and was replaced by George Cukor. It was produced by William Goetz from a screenplay by Oscar Millard, revised (uncredited) by Walter Bernstein and based on screenwriter Oscar Saul's original 1952 script (uncredited).[2] The music score was by Morris Stoloff and Harry Sukman with music by Franz Liszt, and the cinematography by James Wong Howe and Charles Lang (uncredited).[2] The film also featured music of those contemporaries of Liszt whom he unselfishly championed by featuring them in his numerous performances (e.g., Richard Wagner, Hector Berlioz, among others).[3]

The film starred Dirk Bogarde as Franz Liszt, Capucine (in her acting debut) as Princess Carolyne zu Sayn-Wittgenstein, and Geneviève Page as Marie d'Agoult, with Patricia Morison as George Sand, Alexander Davion as Frédéric Chopin, Lyndon Brook as Richard Wagner, Albert Rueprecht as Prince Felix Lichnowsky, Erland Erlandsen as Sigismond Thalberg, Ivan Desny, Martita Hunt, Lou Jacobi, and Marcel Dalio.


Columbia Pictures had plans to film The Franz Liszt Story back in 1952. Studio head Harry Cohn hired his friend, acclaimed screenwriter Oscar Saul (A Streetcar Named Desire) for Saul to produce his own original screenplay with William Dieterle set to direct. When the studio delayed going forward with the project due to production and casting issues for three years, Oscar Saul backed out, and Columbia announced in 1955 that Gottfried Reinhardt had been commissioned to write a new screenplay. Finally in 1958, veteran producer William Goetz took over the project with Oscar Millard as his screenwriter. Charles Vidor, who had previously directed A Song to Remember (1945), a biopic of Frédéric Chopin, was assigned to direct using elements of all three screenwriters' scripts.

As nearly forty musical selections would be heard in the film, Morris Stoloff, head of Columbia's music department, began immediate work on the soundtrack. After selecting the pieces to be played, he engaged piano virtuoso Jorge Bolet, the Roger Wagner Chorale and the Los Angeles Philharmonic to perform the score. Harry Sukman was in charge of the music editing and adaptations that were required for the musical score. Musicologist, Abram Chasins was also a musical consultant on the film.[3] The recording of the music (by Earl Mounce) was completed prior to the start of production so that Bogarde could learn the finger movements necessary to make him appear to be playing the piano realistically in the film. Musical advisor Victor Aller spent three weeks rehearsing Bogarde in proper piano technique.


Two notable soundtracks were recorded in 1960, one by each of the composers of the Oscar-winning score. Colpix Records, a division of Columbia Pictures released Song Without End: Original Soundtrack Recording featuring the pianist Jorge Bolet playing seven of Franz Liszt's compositions. The Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra was conducted by Morris Stoloff. Orchestral selections included four selections from the film's repertoire, and two selections reminded listeners of Liszt's organ virtuosity (uncredited performer..accompanied by "The Song Without End" chorus). CP-506 (LP). The Franz Liszt Story featured the piano and orchestra of Harry Sukman. Liberty Records, LST-7151 (LP). Harry Sukman recorded ten of the Liszt compositions featured in the film. Eight of those selections were adaptations by Harry Sukman composed especially for the album.[4]

Academy Awards

The film won the Best Music score Academy Award for Morris Stoloff and Harry Sukman and the Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture (Musical).


  1. "Rental Potentials of 1960", Variety, January 4, 1961 p 47. Please note figures are rentals as opposed to total gross.
  2. 1 2 Turner Classic Movies Website, accessed March 31, 2009
  3. 1 2 Abram Chasins, "Song Without End," Colpix Records, 1960,(LP), Liner notes.
  4. William Goetz, The Franz Liszt Story, Liberty Records LST-7151, 1960, (LP), Liner Notes

External links

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