arr. Gregg Nestor
Sayonara (Warner Brothers, 1957) is based on James A. Michener's bestselling novel of two opposing cultures. Marlon Brando portrayed a sensitive character; however, it is Myoshi Umeki (Katsumi) and Red Buttons’ Oscar-winning performances (Best Supporting Actress/Actor) as the star-crossed lovers caught in the anti-Japanese prejudice by the American army in Tokyo during the Korean War, that were Waxman’s inspiration for the “Katsumi Love Theme”.
Waxman was reluctant at first to accept the assignment to compose the score for Sayonara because Irving Berlin had already written the title song. However, director Joshua Logan gave him complete artistic freedom. Waxman created one of his most poignant scores and one of his most memorable melodies, which became an international standard. Irving Berlin graciously congratulated Waxman not only on the arrangement of his song in the film, but on the beauty of the “Katsumi” Love Theme.
After a brief introduction, the solo flute introduces the theme, accompanied by incidental figures in the music strongly evoking the film’s Japanese settings. The work eventually modulates to the key of B Major, this time set against flowing harmonies and pizzicato accompaniment before its quiet and soulful conclusion.
“Katsumi Love Theme” was recorded by the arranger and Gordon Halligan, flute, as part of the CD You Must Remember This.