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 51-67 of 67 Available Recordings
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  • 51.
    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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  • 52.
    Psycho - Great Hitchcock Movie Thrillers / Herrmann, Black, Gibson
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 436797 Release Date: 07/20/1999   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Bernard Herrmann,  Miklós Rózsa,  Charles Gounod
    Conductor:  Bernard Herrmann,  Stanley Black,  Sir Alexander Gibson
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Philharmonic Orchestra,  London Festival Orchestra,  Royal Opera House Covent Garden Orchestra
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  • 53.
    I Want Magic! / Renee Fleming
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 460567 Release Date: 09/15/1998   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Gian Carlo Menotti,  Douglas Moore,  André Previn,  Samuel Barber  ... 
    Performer:  Renée Fleming
    Conductor:  James Levine
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Metropolitan Opera Orchestra,  New York Voices
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  • 54.
    Hollywood Nightmares / Mauceri, Hollywood Bowl Orchestra
    Label: Philips   Catalog: 442425 Release Date: 08/30/1998   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Franz Waxman,  Igor Stravinsky,  John Williams,  Jerry Goldsmith  ... 
    Conductor:  John Mauceri
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Hollywood Bowl Symphony Orchestra
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  • 55.
    Warsaw Concerto - Piano Concertos From The Movies / Fowke
    Label: Naxos   Catalog: 8554323 Release Date: 05/12/1998   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Richard Rodney Bennett,  Jack Beaver,  Nino Rota,  Miklós Rózsa  ... 
    Performer:  Philip Fowke
    Conductor:  Prionnsias O'Duinn
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Dublin RTE Concert Orchestra
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  • 56.
    The Only Opera Cd You'll Ever Need
    Label: Rca   Catalog: 68823 Release Date: 10/14/1997   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Engelbert Humperdinck,  Gioachino Rossini,  Ruggero Leoncavallo,  Richard Wagner  ... 
    Performer:  Anna Moffo,  Helen Donath,  Roberta Peters,  Robert Merrill  ... 
    Conductor:  Kurt Eichhorn,  Erich Leinsdorf,  Lorin Maazel,  Eugene Ormandy  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Munich Radio Symphony Orchestra,  Metropolitan Opera Orchestra,  Orchestra  ... 
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  • 57.
    Psycho / Mcneely, Royal Scottish National Orchestra
    Label: Varese Sarabande   Catalog: 5765 Release Date: 07/29/1997   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Bernard Herrmann
    Conductor:  Joel McNeely
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Scottish National Orchestra
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  • 58.
    Concerto Macabre - The Bernard Herrmann Collection
    Label: Koch International Classics   Catalog: 7609 Release Date: 10/15/1996   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Bernard Herrmann
    Performer:  David Buechner
    Conductor:  James Sedares,  Isaiah Jackson
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Phoenix Symphony Orchestra,  Berlin Symphony Orchestra,  New Zealand Symphony Orchestra
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  • 59.
    Herrmann: The Film Scores - Vertigo, Psycho, Etc / Salonen
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 62700 Release Date: 10/01/1996   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Bernard Herrmann
    Conductor:  Esa-Pekka Salonen
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra
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  • 60.
    The Great Fantasy Adventure Album / Kunzel, Cincinnati Pops
    Label: Telarc   Catalog: 80342 Release Date: 04/26/1994   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Miklós Rózsa,  John Williams,  Michael Kamen,  Patrick Doyle  ... 
    Conductor:  Erich Kunzel
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cincinnati Pops
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  • 61.
    Herrmann: The Devil And Daniel Webster / James Sedares
    Label: Koch International Classics   Catalog: 7224 Release Date: 03/22/1994   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Bernard Herrmann
    Performer:  Kenneth Young
    Conductor:  James Sedares
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  New Zealand Symphony Orchestra
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  • 62.
    Label: Unicorn-kanchana   Catalog: 2063 Release Date: 12/28/1993   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Bernard Herrmann
    Performer:  John Amis,  Michael Rippon
    Conductor:  Bernard Herrmann
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  • 63.
    The Great Waltz / John Mauceri, Hollywood Bowl Orchestra
    Label: Philips   Catalog: 438685 Release Date: 10/12/1993   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Dimitri Tiomkin,  Johann Strauss Jr.,  Richard Rodney Bennett,  Richard Strauss  ... 
    Conductor:  John Mauceri
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Hollywood Bowl Symphony Orchestra
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  • 64.
    Herrmann, Waxman: Sinfonietta; Rosza / Jackson, Berlin SO
    Label: Koch International Classics   Catalog: 7152 Release Date: 01/05/1993   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Franz Waxman,  Miklós Rózsa,  Bernard Herrmann
    Conductor:  Isaiah Jackson
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Symphony Orchestra
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  • 65.
    American Chamber Music / Chamber Music Northwest
    Label: Delos   Catalog: 3088 Release Date: 12/11/1992   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Charles Ives,  Quincy Porter,  David Diamond,  Bernard Herrmann
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Chamber Music Northwest
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  • 66.
    Citizen Kane - Classic Film Scores Of Bernard Herrmann
    Label: Rca   Catalog: 707 Release Date: 03/08/1991   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Bernard Herrmann
    Performer:  Joaquín Achúcarro,  Dame Kiri Te Kanawa
    Conductor:  Charles Gerhardt
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  National Philharmonic Orchestra
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  • 67.
    Chiller / Kunzel, Cincinnati Pops
    Label: Telarc   Catalog: 80189 Release Date: 08/10/1989   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Henry Mancini,  Jerry Goldsmith,  John Addison,  Bernard Herrmann  ... 
    Conductor:  Erich Kunzel
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cincinnati Pops
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