Bernard Herrmann

Biography

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
Browse 1-25 of 66 Available Recordings
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  • 1.
    Esa-Pekka Salonen: The Complete Sony Recordings
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 88985471842 Release Date: 05/04/2018   Number of Discs: 61
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Gustav Mahler,  Béla Bartók,  Anton Bruckner  ... 
    Performer:  Yefim Bronfman,  Alexys Schwartz,  Joshua Bell,  Phyllis Bryn-Julson  ... 
    Conductor:  Esa-Pekka Salonen
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra,  Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra,  Swedish Radio Chorus  ... 
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  • 2.
    Herrmann: Souvenirs de voyage; Tredici: Magyar Madness / Lethiec, Fine Arts Quartet
    Label: Naxos   Catalog: 8559796 Release Date: 11/11/2016   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Bernard Herrmann,  David Del Tredici
    Performer:  Michel Lethiec
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Fine Arts Quartet
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  • 3.
    Music from the Motion Pictures / Griffiths, Brandenburgisches, Staatsorchester Frankfurt
    Label: Klanglogo   Catalog: 1518 Release Date: 11/11/2016   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Alfred Newman,  Elmer Bernstein,  Richard Addinsell,  Malcolm Arnold  ... 
    Performer:  Anastasia Voltchok,  Veriko Tchumburidze
    Conductor:  Howard Griffiths
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  • 4.
    Shuffle. Play. Listen / Haimovitz, O'Riley
    Label: Pentatone   Catalog: 5186546 Release Date: 02/12/2016   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Bernard Herrmann,  Leos Janácek,  Bohuslav Martinu,  Igor Stravinsky  ... 
    Performer:  Matt Haimovitz,  Christopher O'Riley
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  • 5.
    Salut Salon Live
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 553013 Release Date: 11/13/2015   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Leonard Bernstein,  Felix Mendelssohn,  Camille Saint-Saëns,  Astor Piazzolla  ... 
    Performer:  Lara Jones,  Jule Hinrichsen,  Phoebe Scott
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Salut Salon!
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  • 6.
    The Genius of Film Music
    Label: Lpo   Catalog: 86 Release Date: 09/11/2015   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Alfred Newman,  Alex North,  Nino Rota,  Franz Waxman  ... 
    Conductor:  John Mauceri
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Philharmonic Orchestra
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  • 7.
    Herrmann, Gershwin, Waxman... / Nash Ensemble
    Label: Hyperion   Catalog: 68094 Release Date: 06/09/2015   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Bernard Herrmann,  George Gershwin,  Franz Waxman,  Aaron Copland
    Performer:  Ian Brown
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Nash Ensemble
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  • 8.
    From Broadway to Hollywood / Richard Glazier
    Label: Sophie Productions   Catalog: 1 Release Date: 06/01/2015  
    Composer:  Bronislaw Kaper,  Bernard Herrmann,  Lalo Schifrin,  Frederick Loewe  ... 
    Performer:  Richard Glazier
    DVD: $18.99
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  • 9.
    Five Sax At The Movies
    Label: Orlando Records (Classical)   Catalog: 16 Release Date: 05/12/2015   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Leroy Shield,  Nino Rota,  Ennio Morricone,  Michael Giacchino  ... 
    Performer:  Rupert Struber,  Jacek Obstarczyk,  Mariam Vardzelashvili,  Zoltan Kiss
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Five Sax
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  • 10.
    Die 12 Cellisten Der Berliner Philharmoniker: Recordings 1978-2010
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 620749 Release Date: 01/27/2015   Number of Discs: 8
    Composer:  Francis Poulenc,  Gabriel Fauré,  Maurice Ravel,  Claude Debussy  ... 
    Performer:  David Delacroix,  Jocelyn B. Smith,  Hans-Dieter Lorenz,  Franz Schindelbeck  ... 
    Conductor:  Simon Halsey
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Twelve Cellists of the Berlin Philharmonic,  Berlin Radio Chorus members
    CD: $62.49
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  • 11.
    Phase 4 Stereo - Stereo Concert Series
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 002188302 Release Date: 10/27/2014   Number of Discs: 41
    Composer:  John Philip Sousa,  Charles A. Zimmerman,  Francis S. Van Boskerck,  George Norton  ... 
    Performer:  Stanley Black,  David Parkhouse,  Alan Loveday,  Robert Merrill  ... 
    Conductor:  Rodney Bashford,  Stanley Black,  Bernard Herrmann,  Edward Downes  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Grenadier Guards Band,  London Festival Orchestra,  London Festival Recording Ensemble  ... 
    CD: $168.99
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  • 12.
    Music for Alfred Hitchcock / Mauceri, Danish National Symphony
    Label: Toccata Classics   Catalog: 241 Release Date: 08/12/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Bernard Herrmann,  Franz Waxman,  Dimitri Tiomkin,  Arthur Benjamin  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Danish National Symphony Orchestra,  Danish National Choir
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  • 13.
    Saxophone Cinema
    Label: Md&g (Dabringhaus & Grimm)   Catalog: 101852 Release Date: 06/24/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Ennio Morricone,  John Barry,  Bernard Herrmann,  Michael Nyman  ... 
    Conductor:  Milan Turkovic
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Selmer Saxharmonic
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  • 14.
    Broadway to Hollywood / Richard Glazier
    Label: Centaur Records   Catalog: 3347 Release Date: 04/29/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Bronislaw Kaper,  Bernard Herrmann,  George Gershwin,  Frederick Loewe  ... 
    Performer:  Richard Glazier
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  • 15.
    American Journey / Murray, Heisser, Orchestre Poitou Charentes
    Label: Mirare   Catalog: 244 Release Date: 04/08/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Samuel Barber,  Leonard Bernstein,  George Gershwin,  Bernard Herrmann  ... 
    Performer:  Tai Murray,  Jean-François Heisser
    Conductor:  Jean-François Heisser
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orchestre Poitou Charentes
    CD: $23.99
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  • 16.
    Play It Again: Classic Sound Of Hollywood
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 303384 Release Date: 04/01/2014   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Franz Waxman,  Dimitri Tiomkin,  Daniele Amfitheatrof,  Erich Wolfgang Korngold  ... 
    Conductor:  Charles Gerhardt,  Maurice Jarre,  Esa-Pekka Salonen,  Elmer Bernstein  ... 
    CD: $16.99
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  • 17.
    Label: Lim   Catalog: 69 Release Date: 11/19/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Miklós Rózsa,  John Williams,  Recorded Sound,  Michael Kamen  ... 
    Performer:  Paul Piller,  Timothy Berens,  Heather MacPhail,  John Birge  ... 
    Conductor:  Erich Kunzel
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  • 18.
    100 Greatest Film Themes, Take 3
    Label: Silva Screen   Catalog: 1398 Release Date: 05/07/2013   Number of Discs: 6
    Composer:  Marvin Hatley,  Charles Chaplin,  Frank Churchill,  Paul Dukas  ... 
    Performer:  Keith Ferreira,  David Shannon,  Helen Hobson,  Emma Kershaw  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Music Works,  The Wire-Haired Terriers Athletic Social Club,  N.Y. Jazz Orchestra
    CD: $63.99
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  • 19.
    Cellocinema / Cello Project
    Label: Genuin Classics   Catalog: 12220 Release Date: 09/25/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Nino Rota,  Tom Waits,  Bernard Herrmann,  Carlos Gardel  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cello Project
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  • 20.
    The Golden Age Of Hollywood Vol 2 / Serebrier, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
    Label: Royal Philharmonic Orchestra   Catalog: 22 Release Date: 02/28/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Bernard Herrmann,  Max Steiner,  Erich Wolfgang Korngold,  Elmer Bernstein  ... 
    Performer:  Clio Gould,  Jamie Talbot
    Conductor:  José Serebrier
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
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  • 21.
    Herrmann: Jane Eyre / Adriano, Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra
    Label: Naxos   Catalog: 8572718 Release Date: 01/31/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Bernard Herrmann
    Conductor:  Adriano
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bratislava Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra
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  • 22.
    Classical Hits Of The Cinema
    Label: Erato   Catalog: 30756 Release Date: 01/24/2012   Number of Discs: 5
    Composer:  Alfred Newman,  Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky,  Gustav Mahler,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart  ... 
    Performer:  Frank Peter Zimmermann,  Piotr Anderszewski,  Christian Zacharias
    Conductor:  Paul Bateman,  Lorin Maazel,  Andrew Litton,  Piotr Anderszewski  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra,  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra,  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $19.99
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  • 23.
    Herrmann: Battle Of Neretva, The Naked And The Dead / Stromberg, Moscow Symphony Orchestra
    Label: Cd Baby   Catalog: 26134606 Release Date: 01/09/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Bernard Herrmann
    Conductor:  William T. Stromberg
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Moscow Symphony Orchestra
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  • 24.
    The Golden Age Of Hollywood
    Label: Royal Philharmonic   Catalog: 17 Release Date: 11/15/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Jerome Moross,  Bernard Herrmann,  Dimitri Tiomkin,  Erich Wolfgang Korngold  ... 
    Performer:  Phil Todd,  Roderick Elms
    Conductor:  Royal Philharmonic Orches,  José Serebrier
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  • 25.
    Herrmann: Moby Dick; Sinfonietta / Schonwandt, Danish National Symphony Orchestra
    Label: Chandos   Catalog: 5095 Release Date: 10/25/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Bernard Herrmann
    Performer:  Uffe Henriksen,  Poul Emborg,  Rasmus Gravers,  Richard Edgar-Wilson  ... 
    Conductor:  Michael Schonwandt
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Danish National Symphony Orchestra,  Danish National Choir
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