FRANKENSTEIN (1931): it’s (a)live!

Photo: Norway – Festspillene I Bergen

USA, 1931, Horror/Science Fiction

James Whale’s film classic FRANKENSTEIN (1931), starring Boris Karloff, was released without a musical score, as were many films in those early days of the talkie. A number of critics, including Leonard Maltin, have remarked that FRANKENSTEIN is badly in need of music. Michael Shapiro’s 70-minute score is written to be played simultaneously with the screening of the film. For modern-day concert- and moviegoers, his haunting music adds significantly to the emotional impact of the film.

Michael Shapiro

Michael Shapiro was commissioned in 2002 by the Boris Koutzen Foundation to write this film score. The world premiere of this work, with live chamber orchestra and film, occurred in October 2002 at the Film Society of Lincoln Center’s Jacob Burns Film Center in New York. Since its premiere, it has received over 50 performances worldwide, including its European premiere at the Bergen International Festival in Norway, and at the Mariinsky Theater Film Annex in St. Petersburg, with major symphony orchestras in the United States, Canada, and the U.K., by Federal service bands such as the United States Navy Band in Washington, D.C., and the Royal Canadian Air Force Band (La Musique de Aviation royale canadienne) in Winnepeg, and university ensembles throughout the Americas.

Due to its worldwide popularity, Michael Shapiro’s FRANKENSTEIN is available in five versions.

Michael Shapiro

Chamber orchestra (16 musicians), adaptable by adding strings into a theater orchestra version (25-35 musicians)
Instrumentation: – – timp.1perc – pno/synth – str5tet

Full orchestra (70+ musicians)
Instrumentation: 2 (alt. picc.), 2,2,2 – 4,2,2,1 – piano/electronic keyboard with amp, harp – timp. , perc. (2) – strings

Wind Ensemble
Instrumentation: Flute 1, Flute 2 (doubles on Piccolo), Oboe 1 & 2, Bb Clarinet 1 & 2, Bb Bass Clarinet, Bassoon 1 & 2, Alto Sax 1 & 2, Tenor Sax, Baritone Sax, Horn in F 1 & 2, Bb Trumpet 1&2, Trombone 1 & 2, Tuba, String Bass, Timpani, Percussion 1, Percussion 2, Piano

Instrumentation: SATBariB plus chamber orchestra or full orchestra (libretto: excerpts from the Latin Requiem Mass)

Opera (5 singers, 15 musicians)
Instrumentation: soprano, contralto, tenor, baritone, and bass soloists plus chamber orchestra or theater orchestra (libretto: excerpts from the Latin Requiem Mass)

Duration: 71 min.