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Long before the Grinch ever gave a thought to stealing Christmas, the fertile and inexhaustible imagination of Theodor Seuss Geisel (Dr. Seuss) conceived a different but equally memorable villain: Dr. Terwilliker. The autocratic and maniacal piano teacher known as Dr. T. holds 500 young boys captive in his castle-like Happy Finger Institute in order to present a concert featuring 5,000 fingers on a giant piano of his own invention. The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T. (1953) is the only live-action film featuring an original story, script and lyrics by Dr. Seuss. It is a cult favorite, but its extensive musical score has never been available in any authorized (or complete) form—until now.
The music for The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T. was written by Frederick Hollander, whose “Falling In Love Again” from The Blue Angel is one of the most famous songs ever written for film. The 17 diverse songs Hollander composed for Dr. T. encompass lyric ballads, mock-operatic recitative, Gershwinesque swing and up-tempo Broadway; he also wrote two extensive ballet sequences for the film. Heinz Roemheld and Hans J. Salter added additional dramatic underscore, based on Hollander’s themes.
The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T. was heavily edited prior to release, with only 6 songs remaining in the picture. With this 3CD release, Film Score Monthly has lovingly recreated the authors’ complete original conception of the music—a painstaking restoration effort that involved many years of scouring the globe for the best-sounding copies of rare acetate discs (the only surviving music masters from the production). All of Hollander’s songs, both ballet sequences in their entirety and most of the underscore (including much that wasn’t used in the final film) are presented on the first disc and the beginning of disc 2.
But that isn’t all—the rest of disc 2 features alternate versions and additional material, including orchestra-only tracks of several of the songs (Karaoke Seuss, anyone?). Disc 3 comprises archival piano recordings played by Hollander himself, revealing some of his early ideas for the music; pre-production piano recordings made for rehearsal purposes; and all the major song and dance sequences exactly as they are heard in the finished film.
This long-awaited release of the Dr. T. soundtrack is the result of several producers, including Mike Matessino, Neil Bulk, FSM's Lukas Kendall, as well as popular entertainer Michael Feinstein (whose peerless devotion to promoting and preserving American theatrical song is well-known). The 40-page booklet—with colorful and irreverent Seuss-inspired graphics designed by FSM’s Joe Sikoryak—includes film stills, publicity materials and production photos. Alan Lareau, who is writing a biography of composer Hollander, wrote the informative essay and detailed track analysis.
This labor of love, which rescues and regenerates a significant work that has never before been fully heard in any form, is a must-buy for children of all ages!