Georges Auric: Roman Holiday Main Theme

Context

Distinguished French film composer Georges Auric wrote the soundtrack for the 1953 American Romantic Comedy, Roman Holiday. Starring big names such as Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck, the film has been described as “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”. 

The film follows the story of a royal princess (Hepburn) out to see Rome on her own, with a reporter (Peck) following her and engaging with her. The themes of the film centre around press activity, trust, romance and friendship. The script was written by John Drighton and Dalton Trumbo. The film was nominated for a range of awards, with Hepburn winning an Academy Award for Best Actress. 

 

The Music

The main theme from Roman Holiday is perhaps the most memorable on Auric’s soundtrack. From the rich string orchestrations to flourishing woodwind, this sparkling main theme is easily memorable. Opening with whirling woodwinds and sparkling percussion, the strings take the main theme. 

As the winds join the strings, Auric’s textures become richer, perhaps nodding at the romantic side of the film. Dramatic string suspension creates variation on the theme, whilst also keeping the harmonic language colourful and interesting. As the music begins to slow somewhat, the music bursts into animated life.

Led by the trumpets, the bouncy new theme is fun-filled and shows a different side to the film – perhaps the comedy element. The jumpy melody is passed around the whole orchestra, with each section putting their own spin on it. A lyrical theme makes a comeback, with an alternating line in the strings adding to the development of it. 

The main theme comes to a rousing conclusion as the orchestra reiterates the animated melody lines. A brass flourish nods to the lower end of the orchestra to play the last exciting four notes of the theme. 

 

Final Thoughts

From rich romantic writing to the more energetic development section, the main theme to Roman Holiday takes you on a short orchestral holiday before the film begins!

 

Happy Reading!

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