Orphans of the Storm

(Griffith, 1921) Music composed and compiled by Louis F. Gottschalk and William Frederick Peters.

In Orphans of the Storm D. W. Griffith crossed A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens with The Two Orphans by Adolphe d’Ennery. The resultant story about two orphan girls (Dorothy and Lillian Gish) in Revolutionary Paris rivals an opera in complexity and spectacle. The film’s original musical accompaniment was composed and arranged by William Frederick Peters (1876-1938) and Louis Ferdinand Gottschalk (1864-1934) (not Louis Moreau Gottschalk) under the supervision of Griffith. Peters was the musical director for David Belasco, Mrs. Leslie Carter and Maude Adams. Trained in the U.S. and in Germany, he wrote a number of background scores for films. Gottchalk won his reputation initially by leading the company that introduced Lehar’s Merry Widow to American audiences. He also prepared the music for The Three Musketeers, Little Lord Fauntleroy, and Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. In addition to original compositions by these two men, the score for Orphans of the Storm contains a pastiche of popular and classical music from the opera, band and incidental music repertories.


Performing forces
11 players (violin I & II, cello, bass, flute/pic, clarinet I, trumpet I, trombone, percussion/tympani, piano, synthesizer)
Performing forces
44 players (strings: 7,7,6,5,4; flute/pic, oboe, clarinet I & II, bassoon, 2 trumpets, 2 Fr. horns, trombone, harp, piano, 2 percussion, tympani.)
Rehearsals Two 2 ½ hour rehearsals with orchestra
One 3 hour 10 minute technical rehearsal with film
One 3 hour 10 minute dress rehearsal with orchestra and film
Performance time 150 minutes plus 15 minute intermission
Film speed 21 frames per second
Film source Killiam Films (US) or British Film Institute (Europe)
DVD source
Kino International
artwork:Lidia Bagnoli