It took seven years for a soundtrack album to be released with the songs and music from the 1950 animated feature, but it’s been a hit ever since in one form or another.
Walt Disney’s CINDERELLA
Music from the Original Motion Picture Sound Track
Original Release: Disneyland Records WDL-4007 (Mono)
LP Reissues: DQ-1207 (1959, 1963, 1980) Picture Disc #3017 (1981), (2015)
Cassette Reissue: 105-GP
CD Reissues: #60879-7 (1997), #61401-7 (2005), D-001412702 (2012), D-002066092 (2015)
Executive Producer: Jimmy Johnson. Produced for Records by Camarata. Musical Direction: Paul J. Smith, Oliver Wallace. Orchestrations: Joseph S. Dubin, Edward H. Plumb. Vocal Arranger: Lyn Murray. Running Time: 32 minutes (1957 edition); 22 minutes (1959 edition).
Performers: Ilene Woods (Cinderella); Verna Felton (Fairy Godmother); Mike Douglas (Prince); Jimmy Macdonald (Jaq, Gus); Eleanor Audley (Lady Tremaine); Rhoda Williams (Drizella); Lucille Williams, Clint McCauley, June Sullivan, Helen Seibert (Mice); Norma Zimmer (Soprano); Ethmer Roten (Flautist).
Songs: “Cinderella,” “A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes,” “Oh Sing Sweet Nightingale,” “The Work Song,” “Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo (The Magic Song),” “So This is Love” by Mack David, Al Hoffman, Jerry Livingston.
Instrumentals (1957 edition): “Cinderella Arrives at the Ball,” “The Twelve Strokes of Midnight,” “Search for the Glass Slipper,” “Locked in Her Room,” “Search Continues,” “Mice to the Rescue,” “Happy Finale” by Paul J. Smith, Oliver Wallace (including melodies by David, Hoffman and Livingston).
Instrumentals (1959 edition): “Cinderella Arrives at the Ball,” “Finale” by Paul J. Smith, Oliver Wallace (including melodies by David, Hoffman and Livingston).
Thanks to the enormous success from the moment it premiered in 1950, Cinderella jumpstarted the Walt Disney’s studio potential to continue making animated features after nearly a decade of “package features,” dabbles in live action and wartime government contracted films. Cinderella was also the first Disney animated feature bearing a score published by Disney’s recently-minted in-house music company.
However, because there was still no internal record company, there was no Cinderella soundtrack album in 1950. The only soundtrack albums for Disney features up to that time were Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Pinocchio and Dumbo (all on RCA Victor Records). The public could purchase no other Disney feature soundtracks until after Disneyland Records set up shop in 1956. The theatrical reissue of Cinderella in 1957 became the perfect opportunity to introduce a soundtrack album for the first time.
Iconic as “A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes,” “The Work Song,” Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo” have become, Cinderella doesn’t contain as many songs as Snow White, or even its successor, Peter Pan (the fourteen-song Alice in Wonderland is in a different musical category altogether), relying instead on reprises and interpolations of its tunes.
Only one song is heard just once in the film: “Oh Sing Sweet Nightingale,” which might seem superfluous to some, yet gently cements the relationship between Cinderella, her household and the audience. Other than this melody, every other song is dramatically linked to almost every minute of the action–though there are a few other purely instrumental themes, particularly for the royal settings. Because the songs are consistently woven within the score, the soundtrack album plays nicely as a consistent whole for 32 minutes.
There is one glaring typo on the 1957 cover, though. The singing voice of the Prince is listed as character actor Don Barclay. It was actually Mike Douglas, who went on to great success as a talk show host and was also the first co-host (with Joan Lunden) of the original Walt Disney World Very Merry Christmas Parade TV special. Unfortunately the misprint was carried over to subsequent vinyl reissues and was not corrected until the compact disc years.
The first vinyl edition of the Cinderella soundtrack was likely to have been its least successful, because Disneyland Records was still finding its way into the business. The “WDL” soundtrack series, such as the album pictured above, was intended for adult audiophiles, with subdued cover art and premium prices. The record label was not initially the success Walt and Roy had hoped it would be for its first few years, so division head Jimmy Johnson made major changes to the products, marketing and distribution.
In 1959, several soundtrack albums were shortened in running time, packaged in covers emphasizing the kid-friendly characters, reduced in price and sold as children’s records. The strategy worked. Even though Cinderella lost ten minutes–including the opening narration music and many of the background tracks from the later sections—the revised album (and its Storyteller book and record set) could be found in record stores almost everywhere. When the cover was redesigned in 1987, the excised material was not restored (as it had been for reissues of Bambi and Snow White), probably because the shorter one was selling fine just as it was.
Once Randy Thornton began restoring and expanding soundtracks for compact disc in the ‘90’s, it was time for collectors to get a long-awaited reward for their patience. First up was a 1997 single disc with all the music plus a demo of the “Disney’s Lost Chord” song, “I’m in the Middle of a Muddle.” 2005 brought a Special Edition with another demo, “Dancing on a Cloud,” an original song called “Beautiful” and a new version of “A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes,” both tied to marketing promotions.
For details on Lost Chords for Cinderella and other Disney features, see this previous Spin. All the Lost Chords demos and new stereo versions were included on the 2012 two-disc Collector’s Edition, which was then replaced by the current version, a 2015 Legacy Collection hardcover book and two-disc set with rare art, expert liner notes and all the above musical material. It’s also worth noting that the soundtrack material long missing from vinyl versions of Cinderella (plus additional tracks added by Randy Thornton) were released for the first time on vinyl in the form of a picture disc, which is also now available from the Disney Music Emporium. There’s been a lot of versions over the decades, in part because Cinderella is a rarely-disputed favorite among Disney music and film enthusiasts.