Now available in multichannel SACD as well as the CD recording!
Late in his brilliant career, Miklós Rózsa had begun rearranging portions of his scores to Ben-Hur, Quo Vadis, and King of Kings as choral suites. But Rózsa died in 1995, and the project was left to friends, pupils, and admirers—including Christopher Palmer, Julian Kershaw, Daniel Robbins, Joseph D. Price and Erich Kunzel—to bring the idea to fruition. With the assistance and encouragement of the composer's son, Nick Rózsa, Telarc is proud to present the world premiere of this magnificent music, performed by the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir under the direction of Erich Kunzel.
By the 1940s, the big Hollywood studios employed resident composers and music directors, among the most renowned of whom were Max Steiner, Dimitri Tiomkin, and Miklós Rózsa. Like Steiner and Tiomkin, Rózsa's roots were European. He was born in Budapest in 1907, the son of a well-to-do industrialist father and a musically gifted mother. He studied music at a very early age and by thirteen he had set his heart on music as a career.
"His entry into film music occurred in 1936-1937, when director Jacques Feyder, having admired his work, engaged him to score Knight Without Armour," says Michael Murray in the liner notes. "Though Rózsa would later recall that he 'hadn't the faintest notion of what should be done,' and that he had seen few motion pictures, he wrote a score in which no trace of inexperience showed, a score that was moreover replete with graceful melody and deft orchestration. The film was a commercial and artistic success, and it launched him on a career whose brilliance has never yet been surpassed."
While signed to MGM, Rózsa wrote the monumental film scores heard in this recording—Quo Vadis (1951), Ben-Hur (1959), and King of Kings (1961)—as well as other epics such as Ivanhoe, Julius Caesar and El Cid. In 1963, after fourteen years with MGM, Rózsa returned his attention to works for the concert hall, among them a piano concerto, a cello concerto, and his orchestral Notturno ungherese.
The 360-member Mormon Tabernacle Choir has appeared at thirteen of the world's fairs and expositions, performed at the inaugurations of five U.S. presidents, and sung for numerous worldwide telecasts and special events. The choir is led by Craig Jessop, who was appointed music director and conductor of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir in December 1999, after having served as the Choir's associate director since 1995.
Erich Kunzel is the most successful Billboard Classical Crossover recording artist in history. He has seventy-six Cincinnati Pops' Telarc releases, fifty-three of which have appeared on either the Classical Crossover or Classical Billboard charts. On top of his commitment to the Pops, Kunzel is chairman of the Greater Cincinnati Arts and Education Center, an organization with which he plans to fulfill his personal dream to build a new School for the Creative and Performing Arts adjacent to Music Hall.