Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 6 vs Korngold: Robin Hood Suite

Another example of me hearing a close correlation between two pieces of music, does anyone else hear any similarity?

So, some time ago someone gave us a collection of 24 vinyl records, namely: Funk & Wagnalls Family Library of Great Music. We have already worked our way to the second disc, Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 6 (quite Saturday mornings with an uninterrupted hour free are rare here- and this one occurred on Friday due to the teacher walkout). While cooking and eating a tasty if not exactly healthy breakfast, I could not help but picture scenes from the 1938 Warner Brothers classic THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD. The kid agreed, but in a way that suggested it was the best way to get me to shut-up. (He also asked several times if we could postpone listening and put on the sports channel to hear the Diamondbacks pregame show.)

There were times I could picture specific scenes. During a string heavy part I was picturing the scene where the Merry Men tie vines to the trees and otherwise prepare for the arrival of Gisbourne, Marion, and the collected taxes for Richard’s ransom. During a brassy section, I was reminded of Robin and Will Scarlett rescuing Much from Gisbourne after he killed the dear near the beginning of the film. There was other music that brought to mind Robin strolling into the castle with the stag on his shoulders—and even the little bit of acting when Flynn jabbed the man at arms with the antler of the stag. There is a flurry of music that is perfect for the fight scene that follows shortly thereafter- - - but honestly I can’t recall if the music is similar or not. I just know that when that music started playing I could picture the hero rolling over backward, knocking down a row of attackers with a bench, climbing up a sconce to reach a balcony as well as him shooting arrows from the balcony.

The record is of the Berlin Symphony Orchestra conducted by Walter Jurgens and has both a 1966 and a 1970 copyright date. I believe the ’66 date is European (Milan, Italy), and the ’70 date is U.S.A. pressing for F & W. I don’t know who played the theme from Robin Hood, but presumably the Warner Brother’s orchestra. Korngold had apparently left Austria where he was conducting opera to compose the music and the Nazi’s annexed Austria and seized his home while he was in Hollywood winning an Oscar.

Can anyone else hear a similarity, or is my ignorance making all music in the Romantic style sound alike to me?

I can hear some stylistic similarity between the third movement of the Tchaikovsky 6th and the march heard over the opening credit of The Adventures of Robin Hood. They’re both bright, swaggering, brassy marches in a late Romantic vein.

A couple of YouTube clips for comparison:


They’re sort of similar, but use different thematic material (and Korngold is a bit more “modern” sounding).

I’m pretty familiar with the Tchaikovsky symphony, but it’s been a LONG time since I watched the movie or listened to Korngold’s score; there may be some other interesting points of similarity that I don’t recall.

Thank you for the reply and the links. I specifically believe the Tchaikovsky starting about 6:51 could very well have inspired the Korngold starting about 0:25 in the links you provided.

Of course, there may be a dozen other pieces of music I am not aware of that also sound similar, but it seems likely to me Korngold had recently listened to the Tchaikovsky when he was composing the RH Suite, and might have been influenced by him—consciously or unconsciously. I further believe that the feeling of the two works are similar enough that you could easily place parts of the Tchaikovsky over scenes of The Adventures of Robin Hood, and the only difficulty would be getting them to start and end in the same time frame (the musical theme may be longer or shorter than the scene length), or the climatic instant may not occur at the right time. For example if both scene and the music selected (from symphony #6) are three minutes long- the music may be most dynamic and impressive at 1:36 and 2:48-3:00, but the action on screen might show the most danger at 1:56 and resolution and a more romantic turn toward the end of the three minutes. I guess what I am trying to say, is that in the unlikely situation where one had rights to use the images from the movie for free—but not the rights to use the music, that person could easily use the Tchaikovsky (which is presumably in public domain by now) to score the film with minimal loss of effect.