By Leonard Maltin | Leonard Maltin December 10, 2009 at 3:35AM
I don’t generally review songbooks, but this sturdy paperbound book is more than a routine collection of sheet music: it includes a fine historical essay, wonderful photos, and shows a high degree of taste and dedication to detail. Editor Cary Ginell has amassed an impressive number of such volumes covering the Great American Songbook, Broadway shows, and Hollywood musicals; his That’s Entertainment collection is one of the heftiest in the...
in the series. The Oz book includes a comprehensive essay on the background of the film and its composers—not just E.Y. Harburg and Harold Arlen but Herbert Stothart, who is so often ignored in superficial discussions of this movie. What’s more, the piano and vocal parts replicate precisely what is heard on the movie soundtrack. On the one hand, that means we don’t get the verses Harburg and Arlen wrote for the standard sheet-music release of the songs, but on the other hand, it includes all of the Munchkinland suite, the deleted “Jitterbug” number, and many of Stothart’s wonderful music cues (“Miss Gulch,” “Crystal Gazing,” “Toto Returns,” and the unforgettable “March of the Winkies,” with its unforgettable refrain, “O-ee-yah! Eoh—ah!”) As a bonus, Ginell has included two songs from the 1903 Broadway musical version of The Wizard of Oz with lyrics by L. Frank Baum himself.
In a note on sources, Laura Lynn Broadhurst of the Rutgers University Department of Music explains how difficult it is to obtain definitive renditions of this material, since MGM sent most of its original music manuscripts to a landfill several decades ago. She writes, “The vast majority of the surviving piano-vocal manuscripts of the Oz songs date from a rather early phase of the movie’s production—that is, before the songs had been arranged and orchestrated. Consequently, many of these manuscripts do not correspond exactly to the familiar performance of the songs in the final motion picture... Therefore, this 70th anniversary collection offers all of the film’s songs and selected background music in newly reconstructed versions that are faithful to the celebrated performances we have come to know and love in the movie.” Even if you don’t play the piano you may enjoy having this attractive volume in your library. (Alfred Music Publishing)