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Warsaw Concerto

(Richard Addinsell)

This piano concerto composed by Richard Addinsell was written for the 1941 film Dangerous Moonlight, which later also became known as Suicide Squadron.  The film is about a shell-shocked combat pilot, played by Anton Walbrook, who is also a composer and piano virtuoso, and who is a refugee in England in WWII.  Although the actor’s hands are seen to be playing the piano in the film, it was actually an uncredited Hungarian pianist called Louis Kentner who is performing the music throughout.

Originally the film company had wanted Rachmaninoff to write a piece for them, but as he turned the offer down, they asked Richard Addinsell to write something that resembled the style of Rachmaninoff’s Second and Third Piano Concertos and his “Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini”. Although being credited to Richard Addinsell alone, the orchestration and arrangement of this piece was done by the British composer Roy Douglas.

The slow movement was taken from a rumba Richard Addinsell had written in his days as an undergraduate in the 1920s and with the assistance of Roy Douglas, who supplied the orchestration for the piece, it was made suitable for the needs of the studio requirements.

There have been over a hundred different recordings of the piece with sales exceeding three million, and the sheet music is one of the highest sellers of its type.  The piece was often referred to by Spike Milligan in his autobiographical Adolf Hitler: My Part in His Downfall, where he calls it “the bloody awful Warsaw Concerto”.

The music has been used as a theme in the popular song “The World Outside” which was recorded by The Four Aces.

Cincinnati Pops Recordings
Telarc 80175 (CD: Selections from Victory at Sea and Other Favorites)
Conductor – Erich Kunzel
Piano – William Tritt

Grand Rapids Symphony Orchestra
Centaur CRC 2433 (CD: Piano Pops)
Conductor – John Varineau
Piano – Rich Ridenour

Hollywood Bowl Symphony Orchestra
EMI 63661 (CD: Concertos Under the Stars)
Conductor – Carmen Dragon
Piano – Leonard Pennario

Melbourne Symphony Orchestra
DG 413 259-2 (CD: Warsaw Concerto)
Conductor – Patrick Thomas
Piano – Isador Goodman

Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
London 0289 414 348 – 2 1 (CD: Addinsell: Warsaw Concerto;Rachmaninov: Piano Concerto No. 2)
Conductor – Moshe Atzmon
Piano – Christina Ortiz

Decca 0289 468 506-2 (CD: Movie Adagios)
Conductor – Moshe Atzmon
Piano – Christina Ortiz

RTE Concert Orchestra
Naxos 6 36943 43232 7 (CD: Warsaw Concerto)
Conductor – Proinnsias O’Duinn
Piano – Philip Fowke