Bernard Herrmann


Born: June 29, 1911; New York, NY   Died: December 24, 1975; Los Angeles, CA  
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 Read more 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. Read less

There are 78 Bernard Herrmann recordings available.

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Bernard Herrmann

The City
The Rainstorm
The Madhouse
The Murder
The Water
The Swamp
The Stairs
The Knife
The Cellar
The Embassy
The Film
The Old Street
The Safe
Five Weeks
The Charwoman
The Pursuit
The Boat
Prelude - Rain - Thatcher Library - Manuscript Reading and Snow Picture - Mother's Sacrifice - Charles Meets Thatcher
Galop - Dissolve Thatcher Reading Document - Second Manuscript - Thanks - Bernstein's Narration - Kane's New Office - New Hornpipe Polka - Carter's Exit - Chronicle Scherzo - Bernstein's Presto
Kane's Return - Collecting Statues - Valse Presentation - Sunset Narrative - Theme and Variations
Kane meets Susan - Susan's Room - Mother Memory - The Trip - Geddes's Departure - Kane Marries
Salammbo's Aria
Leland's Dismissal - New Dawn Music - Xanadu - Jigsaws - Second Xanadu
Kane's Picnic - Susan Leaves - El Rancho - The Glass Ball - Finale
The Start
The Cliffs
The Chasm And The Valley
The Stone Arrow
The Mission
The Circle
The Church
The Quarrel
The Wooden Cross
The Mine
The Feather
The Shrine
The Smoke Signals
The Revolver
The Wild Party
Leah's Vigil
Fuller's Devotion
The Departure
The Indian
Fuller's Plan
The Apache
Daly's Death
Fuller's Death
The Watchers
Night Scene
The High Rocks
The Chase
The Cards
The Ridge
The Return
The Sharpshooter
The Dealer - Murder and Fire - Confession
Netta - The Spell - The Murder - Fame
The Cat - Netta's Death - The Bonfire - Recovery
Jane's Departure
Jane Alone
Dreaming - Vanity
Elegy - Jane's Sorrow
Time Passage - The Letter
Thornfield Hall - Valse Bluette
The Piano - Promenade
Rochester's Past - The Fire
Duo - The Door
Mr. Mason
The Room - The Rattle
The Garden
Song (Jane's Confession) - The Storm
The Wedding - The Wife
Jane's Farewell (Rochester's Confession)
Jane's Return
And God created great whales (Chorus)
Call me Ishmael ? And in the wild conceits (Ishmael)
Hymn: The ribs and terrors in the whale ? With speed he flew to my relief ? My song for ever shall record (Chorus)
At last anchor was up, the sails were set (Ishmael)
Send everyone aft; mastheads there! Come down! (Ahab)
Yonder, by the ever-brimming goblet's rim ? I, the wearer, see not its far flashings ? Dry heat upon my brow? ? Gifted with the high perception ? Good night -...good night (Ahab)
Hist, boys! Let's have a jig! ? Oh! Jolly is the gate (Drunken Sailor) ? Oh! Thou big white God aloft there (Pip)
It was a clear steel-blue day (Ishmael) ? Oh, Starbuck! It is a mild, mild wind ? Aye, toil how we may ? Starbuck! (Ahab)
There she blows! There she blows! (Sailor) ? Starbuck, some men die at ebb tide (Ahab) Oh! My captain, my captain! Go not! Go not! (Starbuck)
Lower away! Stand by the crew! ? I turn my bod from the sun ? Sink all coffins and all hearses (Ahab)
Thus, I give up the spear! (Ahab) ? And I only am escaped alone to tell thee (Ishmael)
The City
The Rainstorm
The Madhouse
The Murder
The Water
The Swamp
The Stairs
The Knife
The Cellar
I. Prelude: Slowly
II. Scherzo: Presto
III. Adagio -
IV. Interlude: Largo
V. Variations
I. Andante pastorale - Allegro
II. Berceuse
III. Andante tranquillo quasi barcarolla
The Ruins
The Red Sea and Childhood
The Nile and Temple
The Chariot Ride
Party's End
The Rebuke
The Deed
The Harp and Couch
The Perfection of Love
The Homecoming
The True Pharaoh
The Tomb
The Holy War
Dance Macabre
Memory Waltz
The Silence
The Fall
The Awakening
Interlude I
Interlude II
The Letter
The Farewell
The River
The Hyena
Witch Doctor
The Death-watch

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