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Bernard Herrmann

June 29, 1911 - December 24, 1975
born in New York, NY, composed during the Modern period
The man whose name is for many synonymous with film music was born prematurely to Abraham and Ida Herrmann. Abraham, an optometrist, came from an intellectual family, while Ida was highly religious; the family's handsome brownstone was the scene of frequent arguments. At the age of five Herrmann began to suffer from Sydenham's syndrome, a neurological disorder that can affect personality development. A calm environment is needed for recovery, but Herrmann did not enjoy one. He grew up to be a nervous and aggressively touchy person who tended to alienate friends and associates.

He was also incessantly creative, composing music at an early age. At age 13 he won a hundred-dollar prize for an orchestral composition, and this settled him on a musical career. He studied with Percy Grainger at New York University, composing much music that he later destroyed. At 20 he debuted as a conductor on Broadway, leading a ballet of his own in a musical revue called "Americana." He also founded the New Chamber Orchestra.

In 1934 Herrmann began conducting and scoring for the CBS radio network. He developed a gift for quick evocation of a situation or psychological state with very short musical gestures such as a repeating note pattern, a chord, or a shift in color. Herrmann worked for Orson Welles, the young director of the Mercury Theater radio drama series. When Welles went to Hollywood to direct his debut film, Citizen Kane, he took along several Mercury Theater regulars, including Herrmann, who scored the film. With the Citizen Kane score Herrmann virtually invented a new, American film sound that stood in contrast with lush, European-derived styles.

Herrmann remained with CBS, becoming conductor of the CBS Symphony Orchestra in 1940. He championed new British and American music, giving millions their first exposure to such composers as Walton and Ives. Herrmann won an Academy Award for his second film score, that for William Dieterle's The Devil and Daniel Webster. Almost alone among Hollywood composers, he did all his orchestration himself, devising such novel effects as the electronic group employed in The Day the Earth Stood Still or the massed harps of Beneath the Twelve-Mile Reef. He was noted for building his scores on ostinato patterns, often based on an unstable chord. The emotional tension thus produced made Herrmann an ideal collaborator for the master of suspense, Alfred Hitchcock.

Herrmann's collaboration with Hitchcock began with the remake of The Man Who Knew Too Much, just after CBS eliminated its orchestra in 1955. Although of his 68 film scores, only eight were written for Hitchcock (Herrmann also supervised the naturalistic soundtrack for The Birds), the two were among history's greatest director-and-composer teams. Herrmann's all-string score to Psycho, with its nerve-raw shrieking violins for the knife attack scenes, was widely imitated.

Angrily leaving Hollywood when producers moved toward melodious scores that could yield a hit tune as an additional profit point, Herrmann moved to London, still composing film scores for Hitchcock admirers such as François Truffaut, Martin Scorsese, and Brian DePalma. He also stepped up his concert and recording activities, committing to tape his performances of many of the classical pieces he had continued to write over the years. These include a masterly symphony and an opera version of Wuthering Heights.

Herrmann died in Hollywood, passing away unexpectedly in his sleep on Christmas Eve after a scoring session for Scorsese's Taxi Driver, whose jazz-oriented music hinted at an intriguing change in direction. Commentators regard him as the greatest of American film composers or even as the greatest of any nationality, and interest in his music of all genres has shown unceasing growth since his death. ~ Joseph Stevenson, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: Film Music By Bernard Herrmann

1. Psycho, Film Score: Suite For Strings

2. Citizen Kane, Film Score: Overture

3. The Day The Earth Stood Still, Film Score: Suite

4. Jason And The Argonauts, Film Score: Prelude

5. The Ghost And Mrs. Muir, Film Score: Main Title / Finale

6. Seventh Voyage Of Sinbad, Film Score: Main Title

7. Vertigo, Film Score: Scène D'amour

8. North By Northwest, Film Score: North By Northwest

9. Cape Fear, Film Score: Suite

10. Marnie, Film Score: Marnie

11. Twisted Nerve, Film Score: Theme And Variations

12. Mysterious Land, Film Score: Prelude / The Balloon

13. Night Piece, Suite From "Taxi Driver," For Saxophone & Orchestra (arr. By Christopher Palmer): [Unspecified Excerpt]

x

Track List: Bernard Herrmann: The Essential Film Music Collection

Disc 1
Title: Citizen Kane, Film Score

1. Citizen Kane, Film Score: Overture

Title: The Ghost And Mrs. Muir, Film Score

2. The Ghost And Mrs. Muir, Film Score: Main Title / Finale

3. The Ghost And Mrs. Muir, Film Score: Nocturne

Title: On Dangerous Ground, Film Score (1951)

4. On Dangerous Ground, Film Score (1951): Suite

Title: The Day The Earth Stood Still, Film Score

5. The Day The Earth Stood Still, Film Score: Suite

Title: The Snows Of Kilimanjaro, Film Score

6. The Snows Of Kilimanjaro, Film Score: Romance

7. The Snows Of Kilimanjaro, Film Score: The Memory Waltz

Title: The Trouble With Harry, Film Score

8. The Trouble With Harry, Film Score: A Portrait Of Hitch

Title: The Man Who Knew Too Much, Film Score

9. The Man Who Knew Too Much, Film Score: Prelude

Title: The Naked And The Dead, Film Score

10. The Naked And The Dead, Film Score: Prelude

Title: Vertigo, Film Score

11. Vertigo, Film Score: Prelude And Rooftop

12. Vertigo, Film Score: Scène D'amour

Title: Seventh Voyage Of Sinbad, Film Score

13. Seventh Voyage Of Sinbad, Film Score: Main Title

Disc 2
Title: North By Northwest, Film Score

1. North By Northwest, Film Score: Prelude

2. North By Northwest, Film Score: Conversation Piece

Title: The Three Worlds Of Gulliver, Film Score

3. The Three Worlds Of Gulliver, Film Score: Overture

Title: The Twilight Zone, Series Theme (first Year)

4. The Twilight Zone, Series Theme (first Year): Twilight Zone (Themes)

Title: Psycho, Film Score

5. Psycho, Film Score: Suite For Strings

Title: Mysterious Land, Film Score

6. Mysterious Land, Film Score: Prelude / The Balloon

7. Mysterious Land, Film Score: Giant Bees / The Giant Crab

Title: Cape Fear, Film Score

8. Cape Fear, Film Score: Suite

Title: Jason And The Argonauts, Film Score

9. Jason And The Argonauts, Film Score: Prelude

Title: Marnie, Film Score

10. Marnie, Film Score: Prelude & Farewell

Title: Torn Curtain, Film Score

11. Torn Curtain, Film Score: Suite

Title: Fahrenheit 451, Film Score

12. Fahrenheit 451, Film Score: Excerpt

Title: Work(s)

13. Work(s): Theme & Variations

Title: Obsession, Film Score

14. Obsession, Film Score: Excerpt

Title: Night Piece, Suite From "Taxi Driver," For Saxophone & Orchestra (arr. By Christopher Palmer)

15. Night Piece, Suite From "Taxi Driver," For Saxophone & Orchestra (arr. By Christopher Palmer): Night Piece For Saxophone And Orchestra

x

Track List: Citizen Kane (Score Re-Recording Of 1941 Film)

Title: Citizen Kane, Film Score
x

Track List: Mysterious Island

Title: Mysterious Island, Film Score

1. Mysterious Island, Film Score: Fanfare

2. Mysterious Island, Film Score: Prelude

3. Mysterious Island, Film Score: Civil War

4. Mysterious Island, Film Score: Escape To The Clouds

5. Mysterious Island, Film Score: The Island

6. Mysterious Island, Film Score: The Giant Crab

7. Mysterious Island, Film Score: The Granite House

8. Mysterious Island, Film Score: The Phorarhacos

9. Mysterious Island, Film Score: Pirates

10. Mysterious Island, Film Score: Nemo/the Grotto

11. Mysterious Island, Film Score: The Cephalopod

12. Mysterious Island, Film Score: Escape From The Island

x

Track List: Day The Earth Stood Still (Film Score)

Title: The Day The Earth Stood Still, Film Score

1. The Day The Earth Stood Still, Film Score: Prelude And Outer Space

2. The Day The Earth Stood Still, Film Score: Radar

3. The Day The Earth Stood Still, Film Score: Danger

4. The Day The Earth Stood Still, Film Score: Klaatu

5. The Day The Earth Stood Still, Film Score: Gort

6. The Day The Earth Stood Still, Film Score: Visor

7. The Day The Earth Stood Still, Film Score: Telescope

8. The Day The Earth Stood Still, Film Score: Escape

9. The Day The Earth Stood Still, Film Score: Solar Diamonds

10. The Day The Earth Stood Still, Film Score: Arlington

11. The Day The Earth Stood Still, Film Score: Lincoln Memorial

12. The Day The Earth Stood Still, Film Score: Nocturne

13. The Day The Earth Stood Still, Film Score: Flashlight

14. The Day The Earth Stood Still, Film Score: Robot

15. The Day The Earth Stood Still, Film Score: Space Control

16. The Day The Earth Stood Still, Film Score: Elevator

17. The Day The Earth Stood Still, Film Score: Magnetic Pull

18. The Day The Earth Stood Still, Film Score: Study

19. The Day The Earth Stood Still, Film Score: Conference

20. The Day The Earth Stood Still, Film Score: Jeweler

21. The Day The Earth Stood Still, Film Score: XII. 30

22. The Day The Earth Stood Still, Film Score: Panic

23. The Day The Earth Stood Still, Film Score: Glowing

24. The Day The Earth Stood Still, Film Score: Alone

25. The Day The Earth Stood Still, Film Score: Gort's Rage

26. The Day The Earth Stood Still, Film Score: Nikto

27. The Day The Earth Stood Still, Film Score: Captive

28. The Day The Earth Stood Still, Film Score: Terror

29. The Day The Earth Stood Still, Film Score: Prison

30. The Day The Earth Stood Still, Film Score: Rebirth

31. The Day The Earth Stood Still, Film Score: Departure

32. The Day The Earth Stood Still, Film Score: Farewell

33. The Day The Earth Stood Still, Film Score: Finale

x

Track List: Bernard Herrmann: The Twilight Zone (Television Series Score Re-recording)

Disc 1
Title: The Twilight Zone

1. The Twilight Zone: Main Title

10. The Twilight Zone: The Mirror

22. The Twilight Zone: The House

Disc 2
x

Track List: North By Northwest: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack

Title: North By Northwest, Film Score
x

Track List: The Ghost And Mrs. Muir: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack

Title: The Ghost And Mrs. Muir, Film Score

Comments

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ctreves
Dis dudz muzic Sunday lke n ALIEN singn!!!!! Aaaaaah!!! Dere comn 2 gt us!
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How come this channel only plays Melanie Martinez and halsey?
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Edgar Allan Poe master of horror
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usquam1
Fahrenheit 451 is what really sold me! I wish that I could have met him. He was as much a genius as any composer with Wagner the exception.
Report as inappropriate
Such beauty and genius...whe r e are the genius film scorers of today? Not exactly thick on the ground. Looking out at my late October Louisiana sunset and listening to the Vertigo theme...near mystical in ways I can't explain.
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ksmith0926
Vertigo wouldn't be the same without Hermann.
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r.pugh20009
Even Hitchcock was in awe when Herrmann came up with the shrieking violins. Hitchcock had intended to shoot the shower scene with no music
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Hitchcock is the master of cinematograp h y
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loversspit.k w
herrmann is thee man
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kathimccord
Hermann's music is the BEST...imagi n e the PSYCHO shower scene without those slashing violins!
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alfred hitch is the master.
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ALMOST AS CELEBRATED AS HIS MUSICAL WORK ARE THE ENDURING LEGENDS OF HERRMANN'S COMBATIVENES S AND VOLATILITY. AS COMPLEX AS ANY CHARACTER IN THE FILMS HE SCORES, HERRMANN REMAINS A CREATIVE GENIUS, AN INDEFAGITABL E MUSICOLOGIST , AN EXPLOSIVE BULLY, A GENEROUS AND COMPASSIONAT E MAN WHO DESPERATELY SOUGHT FRIENDSHIP AND LOVE.
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lightintheat t i c v i k k i
i love twisted nerve
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mike2641
Interesting! I hope that everyone's Sunday and Halloween are going great and I hope that they have a great week!
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hcarey5129
did he use Yanacek music in Vertigo?
Report as inappropriate
I wonder if he was able to have a fulfilling personal life. The bio hinted that he had a personality disorder in part because his early childhood was tumultuous.
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Great bio but wasn't The Trouble With Harry (1955) Herrmann's first collaboratio n with Hitchcock and not The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956)? Just saying.
Report as inappropriate
Incredible, so desolate, then again it fills you with such emotion.
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One of the greatest film composers.
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pmelfman79
Amazing talent.
Report as inappropriate
Bernard Herrmann: the one and only. The absolute best.
Report as inappropriate
One of the finest albums to listen to extended pieces from the Master Bernard Herrmann, is the wonderful FANTASY FILM WORLD OF BERNARD HERRMANN, conducted by himself. THAT is the album that you must get into this project ! ! ! !

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