Open main menu

Song Without End, subtitled The Story of Franz Liszt (1960) is a biographical film romance made by Columbia Pictures. It was directed by Charles Vidor, who died during the shooting of the picture and was replaced by George Cukor. It was produced by William Goetz from a screenplay by Oscar Millard, revised (uncredited) by Walter Bernstein and based on screenwriter Oscar Saul's original 1952 script (uncredited).[3] The music score was by Morris Stoloff and Harry Sukman with music by Franz Liszt, and the cinematography by James Wong Howe and Charles Lang (uncredited).[3] The film also features music of those contemporaries of Liszt whom he unselfishly championed by featuring them in his numerous performances (e.g., Richard Wagner, Hector Berlioz, among others).[4]

Song Without End
Song Without End video cover.jpg
VHS cover
Directed byCharles Vidor
George Cukor
Produced byWilliam Goetz
Written byOscar Millard
StarringDirk Bogarde
Geneviève Page
Music byMorris Stoloff
Harry Sukman
Franz Liszt
CinematographyJames Wong Howe
Distributed byColumbia Pictures
Release date
  • August 11, 1960 (1960-08-11)
Running time
141 min.
CountryUnited States
Budget$3.5 million[1]
Box office$1,500,000 (US and Canada rentals)[2]

The film stars Dirk Bogarde as Franz Liszt, Capucine (in her acting debut) as Princess Carolyne zu Sayn-Wittgenstein, and Geneviève Page as Marie d'Agoult, with Patricia Morison as George Sand, Alexander Davion as Frédéric Chopin, Lyndon Brook as Richard Wagner, Albert Rueprecht as Prince Felix Lichnowsky, Erland Erlandsen as Sigismond Thalberg, Ivan Desny, Martita Hunt, Lou Jacobi, and Marcel Dalio.


Columbia Pictures had plans to film The Franz Liszt Story back in 1952. Studio head Harry Cohn hired his friend, acclaimed screenwriter Oscar Saul (A Streetcar Named Desire) for Saul to produce his own original screenplay with William Dieterle set to direct. When the studio delayed going forward with the project due to production and casting issues for three years, Oscar Saul backed out, and Columbia announced in 1955 that Gottfried Reinhardt had been commissioned to write a new screenplay. In 1958, veteran producer William Goetz took over the project with Oscar Millard as his screenwriter. Charles Vidor, who previously directed A Song to Remember (1945), a biopic of Frédéric Chopin, was assigned to direct using elements of all three screenwriters' scripts.

As nearly 40 musical selections were heard in the film, Morris Stoloff, head of Columbia's music department, began immediate work on the soundtrack. After selecting the pieces to be played, he engaged piano virtuoso Jorge Bolet, the Roger Wagner Chorale and the Los Angeles Philharmonic to perform the score. Harry Sukman was in charge of the music editing and adaptations that were required for the musical score. Musicologist Abram Chasins was a musical consultant on the film.[4] The recording of the music (by Earl Mounce) was completed before the start of production so that Bogarde could learn the finger movements necessary to make him appear to be playing the piano realistically in the film. Musical adviser Victor Aller spent three weeks rehearsing Bogarde in proper piano technique.

As for the image of the composer, the film makers made Dirk Bogarde look more like Elvis Presley, sticking not to historical accuracy, but to the popular trend of late 1950s.


Two notable soundtracks were recorded in 1960, one by each of the composers of the Oscar-winning score. Colpix Records, a division of Columbia Pictures released Song Without End: Original Soundtrack Recording featuring the pianist Jorge Bolet playing seven of Franz Liszt's compositions. The Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra was conducted by Morris Stoloff. Orchestral selections included four selections from the film's repertoire, and two selections reminded listeners of Liszt's organ virtuosity (uncredited performer..accompanied by "The Song Without End" chorus). CP-506 (LP). The Franz Liszt Story featured the piano and orchestra of Harry Sukman. Liberty Records, LST-7151 (LP). Harry Sukman recorded ten of the Liszt compositions featured in the film. Eight of those selections were adaptations by Harry Sukman composed especially for the album.[5]

Academy AwardsEdit

The film won the Best Music score Academy Award for Morris Stoloff and Harry Sukman and the Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture (Musical).


  1. ^ Beronius, G. (1959, Jul 19). Death triggers drama. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from
  2. ^ "Rental Potentials of 1960". Variety. 4 January 1961. p. 47. Retrieved 8 April 2019.
  3. ^ a b Turner Classic Movies Website, accessed March 31, 2009
  4. ^ a b Abram Chasins, "Song Without End," Colpix Records, 1960,(LP), Liner notes.
  5. ^ William Goetz, The Franz Liszt Story, Liberty Records LST-7151, 1960, (LP), Liner Notes

External linksEdit