AFI Catalog of Feature Films
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Song of Love
Alternate Title: A Love Story
Director: Clarence Brown (Dir)
Release Date:   Oct 1947
Production Date:   5 Nov 1946--30 Jan 1947
Duration (in mins):   117
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Cast:   Katharine Hepburn (Clara Wieck Schumann)  
    Paul Henreid (Robert Schumann)  
    Robert Walker (Johannes Brahms)  
    Henry Daniell (Franz Liszt)  
    Leo G. Carroll (Professor Wieck)  
    Else Janssen (Bertha)  
    Gigi Perreau (Julie [Schumann})  
    "Tinker" Furlong (Felix [Schumann])  
    Ann Carter (Marie [Schumann])  
    Janine Perreau (Eugenie [Schumann])  
    Jimmie Hunt (Ludwig [Schumann])  
    Anthony Sydes (Ferdinand [Schumann])  
    Eilene Janssen (Elise [Schumann])  
    Roman Bohnen (Dr. Hoffman)  
    Ludwig Stossel (Haslinger)  
    Tala Birell (Princess Valerie Hohenfels)  
    Kurt Katch (Judge)  
    Henry Stephenson (King Albert)  
    Konstantin Shayne (Reinecke)  
    Cecil Stewart (Conductor)  
    Leslie Denison (King Fredericus Augustus)  
    Eloise Hardt (Queen Maria)  
    Larry Simms (Prince Albert)  
    Francis Pierlot (Old musician)  
    Byron Foulger (Bailiff)  
    Frank Reicher (Mr. Fuerbach)  
    Wheaton Chambers (Mr. Heller)  
    Constance Purdy (Mrs. Hein)  
    Fred Nurney (Mr. Fehling)  
    Fred Essler (Mr. Hein)  
    Betty Blythe (Lady with opera glasses)  
    Bert Roach (Stage manager)  
    George Davis (Valet)  
    Helen Eby-Rock (Maid)  
    Clinton Sundberg (Dr. Richarz)  
    Andre Charlot (Pompous gent)  
    Josephine Whittell (Lady with pearls)  
    Jane Green (Queen)  
    Pierre Watkin (Duke of X)  
    Mary Forbes (Woman at party)  
    Winifred Harris (Woman at party)  
    Grandon Rhodes (Reinecke's companion)  
    Torben Meyer (Stage manager)  
    Harold Miller (Adjutant to Prince)  
    Lela Bliss (Mrs. Heller)  
    Ruth Robinson (Mrs. Geuerbach)  
    Edna Holland (Mrs. Fohling)  
    Guy D'Ennery    
    Helen Dickson    

Summary: In Dresden, Germany, in 1839, pianist virtuoso Clara Wieck performs at a command performance of the King. After completing a piano concerto by noted composer Franz Liszt, Clara introduces "Traumerei," a piece composed by her lover, an unknown composer named Robert Schumann. Backstage, Clara is chastised by her overbearing father and teacher, Prof. Wieck, for playing the composition, but Clara replies that she is in love with Schumann. When Schumann asks for the underage Clara's hand in marriage, Wieck forbids the union, declaring that Schumann is unworthy of his famous daughter. Defying her father, Clara petitions the court for permission to marry. Just as the judge is about to rule in her father's favor, Liszt defends the marriage and praises Schumann's talent, thus winning the court's consent. As a wedding gift, Schumann writes a composition for his bride titled "Dedication." Years later, Schumann has failed to attain recognition as a composer and is forced to support his family by giving music lessons. Overburdened with seven young children, Clara has stopped playing the piano to rear her brood. On New Year's Eve, Johannes Brahms, a promising young composer, comes to study with Schumann. Although Brahms is instantly smitten by Clara, Schumann invites him to move into the family's home. At their New Year's party, the family and their guests follow tradition by telling their fortunes with melted tin soldiers. When Schumann's molten glob of metal congeals into the shape of a coffin, the room falls silent. Soon, Brahms becomes an indispensable member of the family, helping with the chores and the children and even convincing the housekeeper, Bertha, who has quit in frustration, to return to work. Strain and overwork start to effect Schumann's mind, though, and he begins to suffer chronic headaches. To help with the family's finances, Clara briefly returns to the concert stage, causing Schumann increased feelings of failure and unworthiness. While Schumann throws himself into completing his opera Faust , Clara declines a lucrative offer to continue on the concert stage. Slipping further into depression, Schumann begins to compose morose, disturbing music, prompting Clara to worry that he may suffer the same fate as his sister, who committed suicide after suffering a nervous breakdown. When Schumann's opera is rejected, Clara hides the bad news from her husband and Brahms turns to Liszt for help. Interceding on his friend's behalf, Liszt convinces Reinecke, the owner of a concert hall, to open his season with Faust . No longer able to bear his unrequited love for Clara, Brahms leaves the Schumann home. While conducting the debut of his opera, Schumann suffers a mental breakdown and is subsequently committed to a mental institution. When, during a visit from Clara, Schumann offers to play his "new" composition, "Traumerei," Clara knows all is lost. Schumann dies shortly thereafter, and five years later, Brahms, now having achieved fame and fortune, comes to visit Clara. Surprised to find Clara still in mourning and having forsaken the piano, Brahms lectures her about her late husband's determination. Resentful, Clara rejects Brahms invitation to join him in Cologne for the debut of his new symphony, but later changes her mind. In Cologne, Brahms is so thrilled to glance up and see Clara in the audience that he whisks her out of the hall in the middle of the concert. Taking her to a wine garden, Brahms proposes to Clara, but when a gypsy violinist plays the strains of "Dedication," Clara realizes that she is still in love with her husband and must preserve his legacy by playing his music throughout the world. Returning to the stage in Dresden, she reprises "Traumerei" for the King. 

Production Company: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp. (Loew's Inc.)
Production Text: A Clarence Brown Production
Distribution Company: Loew's Inc.  
Director: Clarence Brown (Dir)
  Al Raboch (Asst dir)
Producer: Clarence Brown (Prod)
Writer: Ivan Tors (Scr)
  Irmgard Von Cube (Scr)
  Allen Vincent (Scr)
  Robert Ardrey (Scr)
Photography: Harry Stradling (Dir of photog)
Art Direction: Cedric Gibbons (Art dir)
  Hans Peters (Art dir)
Film Editor: Robert J. Kern (Film ed)
Set Decoration: Edwin B. Willis (Set dec)
Costumes: Irene (Cost supv)
  Walter Plunkett (Women's cost)
  Valles (Men's cost)
Music: Bronislau Kaper (Mus dir)
  William Steinberg (Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Symphony Orchestra cond)
  Laura Dubman (Mus adv)
Sound: Douglas Shearer (Rec dir)
Special Effects: Warren Newcombe (Spec eff)
Make Up: Jack Dawn (Makeup created by)
  Sydney Guilaroff (Hair styles des by)
Stand In: Artur Rubinstein (Piano solos for Katharine Hepburn, Paul Henreid and Robert Walker)
Country: United States

Music: Piano Concert No. 1 and "Mephisto Waltz" by Franz Liszt; "Traumerei," "Dedication," "Carnival" and "Arabesque" by Robert Schumann; Hungarian Dance No. 5 by Johannes Brahms.
Songs: "As Years Go By," music and lyrics by Charles Tobias and Peter DeRose, based on Hungarian Dance No. 4 by Johannes Brahms.
Composer: Johannes Brahms
  Peter DeRose
  Franz Liszt
  Robert Schumann
  Charles Tobias
Source Text: Based on the play Song of Love, the Life of Robert and Clara Schumann by Bernard Schubert and Mario Silva (unproduced).
Authors: Mario Silva
  Bernard Schubert

Copyright Claimant Copyright Date Copyright Number Passed By NBR:
Loew's Inc. 12/7/1947 dd/mm/yyyy LP1234 Yes

PCA NO: 12252
Physical Properties: b&w:
  Sd: Western Electric Sound System

 
Genre: Biography
  Drama
  Drama
 
Subjects (Major): Johannes Brahms
  Composers
  Concerts
  Franz Liszt
  Marriage
  Mental illness
  Nervous breakdown
  Pianists
  Clara Wieck Schumann
  Robert Schumann
  Unrequited love
 
Subjects (Minor): Caf├ęs
  Dresden (Germany)
  Fathers and daughters
  Financial crisis
  Housekeepers
  Kings
  New Year's Eve
  Sanitariums

Note: The working title of this film was A Love Story . The opening credits roll over a sequence in which "Clara" (Katharine Hepburn) is seen playing the piano in a command performance for the King of Bavaria. The order of the opening cast credits differs slightly from that of the closing credits. The film is prefaced by the following disclaimer: "In this story of Clara and Robert Schumann, of Johannes Brahms and Franz Liszt, certain necessary liberties have been taken with incident and chronology. The basic story of their lives remains a true and shining chapter in the history of music." Robert Schumann (1810-1856) met his prospective wife Clara Wieck (1819-1896) when he boarded with the Wieck family while studying the piano with her father. When Robert fell in love with Clara, who, at the time, was a sixteen-year old piano virtuoso, her father opposed the union, forcing the underaged Clara to petition the court to marry. Granted permission, the couple married the day before Clara's twenty-first birthday. Although biographical sources note that Clara loved touring and was a composer in her own right, her musical career was cut short by the arrival of the couple's eight children. In the early 1840's, Robert began to suffer from mental illness and was committed to an asylum after a suicide attempt in 1854. After Robert's death, Clara performed, taught and edited her husband's letters, becoming known as a champion and interpreter of his music. Johannes Brahms (1833-1897) met Robert Schumann in 1853. Schumann championed the young composer and arranged for the publication of his first songs and piano sonatas. Although Brahms was a constant visitor to the Schumann house, he never lived with the family. Brahms never overcame his passion for Clara, who was fourteen years his senior, and remained devoted to her until her death in 1896.
       According to an Apr 1945 HR news item, M-G-M acquired the rights to Bernard Schubert's and Mario Silva's play in 1939, intending to produce it on Broadway. When the deal fell through, the studio decided to produce the property as a film in which Clara Schumann's role was to be tailored for Ingrid Bergman. According to an M-G-M publicity item contained in the AMPAS Library, Hepburn, whose piano playing, like that of her two co-stars, was dubbed by Artur Rubenstein, learned to play Schumann's "Carnival" for this picture. In addition to the songs listed in the credits, various selections from the music of Schumann, Liszt and Brahms were heard throughout the film. A Dec 1946 HR news item notes that Cologne's Gurzenich concert hall, the world's oldest concert hall, which was leveled by the Nazis, was recreated on the M-G-M lot for the film, encompassing a three story sound stage, 75 by 175 feet. HR news items in HR and LAT add that four of the Schumanns' grandchildren sued Loew's Inc. for $9,000,000 on the grounds that this film was "libelous, invaded their right of privacy and misappropriated a property right." The suit was dismissed. In his Oct 1954 decision, New York State Supreme Court Justice William C. Hecht, Jr. wrote: "The allegations of the complaint affirmatively admit that Robert Schumann and his sister were insane as depicted in defendant's motion picture." 

Bibliographic Sources:   Date   Page
Box Office   26 Jul 1947.   
Daily Variety   21 Jul 1947.   
Film Daily   21 Jul 47   p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter   12 Apr 45   p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter   5 Nov 46   p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter   18 Dec 46   p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter   31 Jan 47   p. 17.
Hollywood Reporter   21 Jul 47   p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter   25 Oct 1954.   
Independent Film Journal   4 Jan 47   p. 34.
Los Angeles Times   22 Oct 1954.   
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest   26 Jul 47   p. 3745.
New York Times   10 Oct 47   p. 31.
Variety   23 Jul 47   p. 10.

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.
 
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