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
The Film Music of Bernard Herrmann - Citizen Kane & Hangover Square / Gamba
Release Date: 02/23/2010   Label: Chandos  
Catalog: 10577   Number of Discs: 1
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Herrmann: Moby Dick; Sinfonietta / Schonwandt, Danish National Symphony Orchestra
Release Date: 10/25/2011   Label: Chandos  
Catalog: 5095   Number of Discs: 1
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Browse 26-50 of 67 Available Recordings
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  • 26.
    Creepy Classics: Halloween's Greatest Hits
    Label: Dg Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 001594802 Release Date: 09/20/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Charles Gounod,  John Williams,  Jerry Goldsmith,  Bernard Herrmann  ... 
    Performer:  Simon Preston
    Conductor:  Sir Alexander Gibson,  John Williams,  John Mauceri,  Bernard Herrmann  ... 
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  • 27.
    Citizen Kane: Classic Film Scores Of Bernard Herrmann
    Label: Rca   Catalog: 81264 Release Date: 03/01/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Bernard Herrmann
    Performer:  Dame Kiri Te Kanawa,  Joaquín Achúcarro
    Conductor:  Charles Gerhardt
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  National Philharmonic Orchestra
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  • 28.
    Herrmann: Psycho Suite, Echoes, Souvenirs De Voyage / Tippett Quartet
    Label: Signum Classics   Catalog: 234 Release Date: 02/22/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Bernard Herrmann
    Performer:  Julian Bliss
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Tippett String Quartet
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  • 29.
    Label: Silva Screen   Catalog: 1309 Release Date: 07/13/2010   Number of Discs: 6
    Composer:  Pete Moore,  Bernard Herrmann,  David Raksin,  Henry Mancini  ... 
    Performer:  Gareth Williams,  Mark Ayres
    Conductor:  Evan Jolly,  Paul Bateman,  Nic Raine,  Bill Ashton  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Ensemble
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  • 30.
    Journey To The Stars / Mauceri, Hollywood Bowl Orchestra
    Label: Philips   Catalog: 446403 Release Date: 07/13/2010   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Sir Arthur Bliss,  Karl-Birger Blomdahl,  John Williams,  Louis Barron  ... 
    Conductor:  John Mauceri
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Hollywood Bowl Symphony Orchestra,  Hollywood Bowl Symphony Chorus
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  • 31.
    The Film Music of Bernard Herrmann - Citizen Kane & Hangover Square / Gamba
    Label: Chandos   Catalog: 10577 Release Date: 02/23/2010   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Bernard Herrmann
    Performer:  Martin Roscoe,  Orla Boylan
    Conductor:  Rumon Gamba
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Philharmonic Orchestra
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  • 32.
    Midsummer Night / Kate Royal
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 68192 Release Date: 06/02/2009   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Erich Wolfgang Korngold,  Bernard Herrmann,  Benjamin Britten,  André Messager  ... 
    Performer:  Kate Royal
    Conductor:  Edward Gardner
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  English National Opera Orchestra
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  • 33.
    Vintage Cinema / Kunzel, Cincinnati Pops
    Label: Telarc   Catalog: 80708 Release Date: 10/28/2008   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Elmer Bernstein,  Miklós Rózsa,  Bernard Herrmann,  Leonard Bernstein  ... 
    Conductor:  Erich Kunzel
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cincinnati Pops
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  • 34.
    American Classics - Four American Quartets - Evans, Glass, Antheil, Herrmann / Fine Arts
    Label: Naxos   Catalog: 8559354 Release Date: 07/29/2008   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Bernard Herrmann,  George Antheil,  Philip Glass,  Ralph Evans
    Performer:  Ralph Evans,  Efim Boico,  Yuri Gandelsman,  Wolfgang Laufer
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Fine Arts String Quartet
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  • 35.
    Spectacular World Of Classic Film Scores / Gerhardt, National PO
    Label: Rca   Catalog: 2792 Release Date: 04/30/2008   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Bernard Herrmann,  Dimitri Tiomkin,  Franz Waxman,  Miklós Rózsa  ... 
    Performer:  Dame Kiri Te Kanawa
    Conductor:  Charles Gerhardt
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  National Philharmonic Orchestra
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  • 36.
    Bernard Herrmann: The Snows Of Kilimanjaro, 5 Fingers
    Label: Naxos   Catalog: 8570186 Release Date: 03/25/2008   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Bernard Herrmann
    Conductor:  William T. Stromberg
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Moscow Symphony Orchestra
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  • 37.
    Vertigo - Original Soundtrack
    Label: Mercury   Catalog: 422106 Release Date: 11/27/2007   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Bernard Herrmann
    Conductor:  Muir Mathieson
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Sinfonia of London
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  • 38.
    Phase 4 Stereo - The Great Hitchcock Movie Thrillers
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 443895 Release Date: 10/12/2007   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Bernard Herrmann
    Conductor:  Bernard Herrmann
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Philharmonic Orchestra
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  • 39.
    Music for Movies - Bernard Herrmann
    Label: Kultur Video   Catalog: 4176 Release Date: 09/25/2007   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Bernard Herrmann
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  • 40.
    Great Film Music Of Bernard Herrmann
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 443899 Release Date: 08/29/2007   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Bernard Herrmann
    Conductor:  Bernard Herrmann
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  National Philharmonic Orchestra
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  • 41.
    Phase 4 Stereo - Herrmann: Music From Great Film Classics
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 448948 Release Date: 08/22/2007   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Bernard Herrmann
    Conductor:  Bernard Herrmann
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Philharmonic Orchestra,  National Philharmonic Orchestra
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  • 42.
    Jane Eyre (1944)
    Label: 20th Century Fox (Dvd)   Catalog: 2242576 Release Date: 04/24/2007   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Bernard Herrmann
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  • 43.
    Tracked - Vivaldi, Barber, Etc / Andy Findon
    Label: Quartz Records   Catalog: 2029 Release Date: 01/10/2006   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Malcolm Arnold,  Vittorio Monti,  Marc Findon,  Ethelbert Nevin  ... 
    Performer:  Andy Findon,  Julia Findon,  Kuljit Bhamra,  Ronnie Findon  ... 
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  • 44.
    Good Movie Music - Walton, Morricone, Et Al / Kapp, Et Al
    Label: Ess.a.y Recordings   Catalog: 1089 Release Date: 09/27/2005   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Elmer Bernstein,  Virgil Thomson,  Bernard Herrmann,  Ennio Morricone  ... 
    Conductor:  Richard Kapp
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Virtuosi
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  • 45.
    Film Music Classics - Herrmann & Newman: The Egyptian
    Label: Naxos   Catalog: 8557702 Release Date: 02/22/2005   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Bernard Herrmann
    Conductor:  William T. Stromberg
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Moscow Symphony Orchestra,  Moscow Symphony Choir
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  • 46.
    Bernard Herrmann Film Scores
    Label: Milan   Catalog: 36095 Release Date: 10/26/2004  
    Composer:  Bernard Herrmann,  Arthur Benjamin
    Performer:  Mccarthy,  Claire Henry
    Conductor:  Elmer Bernstein
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
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  • 47.
    The Most Frightening Music In The Universe
    Label: Denon Records   Catalog: 17433 Release Date: 09/21/2004   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Bernard Herrmann,  Dmitri Shostakovich,  Igor Stravinsky  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orchestra
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  • 48.
    The Instruments Of The Orchestra / Jeremy Siepmann
    Label: Naxos   Catalog: 8558040-46 Release Date: 12/03/2002   Number of Discs: 7
    Composer:  Antonio Vivaldi,  Johannes Brahms,  Georg Philipp Telemann,  Sergei Prokofiev  ... 
    Performer:  Takako Nishizaki,  Idil Biret,  Tedi Papavrami,  Maria Kliegel  ... 
    Conductor:  Stephen Gunzenhauser,  Antoni Wit,  Richard Edlinger,  Takuo Yuasa  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Capella Istropolitana,  Polish Radio Symphony Orchestra,  Ulster Orchestra  ... 
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  • 49.
    Now Playing On Marco Polo / Various
    Label: Marco Polo   Catalog: 8225237 Release Date: 09/17/2002   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Max Steiner,  Franz Waxman,  Bernard Herrmann,  Victor Young  ... 
    Conductor:  William T. Stromberg
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Moscow Symphony Orchestra
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  • 50.
    Chamber Music of Herrmann & Moross
    Label: Albany Records   Catalog: 301 Release Date: 08/24/1999   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Jerome Moross,  Bernard Herrmann
    Performer:  Terry King,  Lawrence Wheeler,  John Jensen,  Kenneth Goldsmith  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Texas Festival Chamber Ensemble
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