Analysis of Musical Selections from “The Wizard of Oz”
One of the greatest family musicals of all time, The Wizard of Oz is a musical fantasy film produced by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) in 1939. It was mainly directed by Victor Fleming. The Wizard of Oz is based on the 1900 fairytale novel, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum. The musical film stars Judy Garland as Dorothy Gale, Ray Bolger as the Scarecrow, Jack Haley as the Tin Man, Bert Lahr as the Cowardly Lion, and Frank Morgan as the Wizard. All of these actors were among those providing vocals for the key songs in the soundtrack.
The Wizard of Oz is noted for its musical selections. Music and lyrics were written by Harold Arlen and E.Y. Harburg in 1938 and 1939. One of the musical’s most famous songs, “Over the Rainbow”, even won the Academy Award for Best Music Song. Splendidly sung by Judy Garland, “Over the Rainbow” is a slow tempo ballad, written in A-A-B-A form. Each A section starts out “Somewhere over the rainbow…” and continues by describing a fairytale state, such as “…a land in a lullaby” or “…dreams come true.” The verses have a flowing feeling to them with the expansive element of the lyrics. This is contrasted by the quick movement of words in the bridge (“Where troubles melt like lemon drops away above the chimney tops”). The melody has a grand feel to it, largely because of the octave leap in the first two notes (“Some-where”). This is an example of text painting, as it “leaps” over the rainbow. The tonality is G major with minor chords intermingled, thus creating drama and emotion. The music is scored for traditional pit orchestra instrumentation with woodwinds, brass, percussion, piano and strings.
Herbert Stothart, who composed the musical’s background score, also won the Academy Award for Best Original Score. At times, Stothart’s incidental music borrows from classical composers, such as during the opening scene. Robert Schumann’s “The Happy Farmer, Op. 68, No. 10”, played...