Bernard Herrmann

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About Bernard Herrmann

The name Bernard Herrmann is synonymous with film music. Few moments are as iconic and revolutionary as the Bates Motel shower murder in Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho; Herrmann’s shrieking violins are inextricable from the frenzied effect of the scene. Known as a soundtrack innovator who scored some 50 movies, Herrmann nevertheless rejected the title of film composer, styling himself instead as a neo-Romantic. Born in 1911 in New York, he grew up playing his father’s gramophone and attending concerts at Carnegie Hall. In 1934, CBS Radio hired Herrmann as a composer, arranger, and conductor. One of the radio shows he scored was The Mercury Theatre on the Air, and when its maverick director, Orson Welles, embarked on a film career, he enlisted Herrmann as composer. Years after working on Welles' Citizen Kane, Herrmann was recruited by Hitchcock to score The Trouble with Harry, giving rise to one of the great director–composer partnerships, highlighted by Vertigo and North by Northwest. Although the scores overshadow Herrmann’s music for the concert hall and the stage, his lush 1951 opera, Wuthering Heights, with self-standing arias like “I Have Dreamt,” is worth exploring. Herrmann died in 1975, a day after completing the score for Martin Scorsese's Taxi Driver.

New York, NY, United States
June 29, 1911
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