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 27 Available Recordings
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  • 1.
    The  Four Faces Of Jazz
    Label: Dutton Laboratories/Vocalion   Catalog: 8148 Release Date: 10/11/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Kurt Weill,  Bernard Herrmann,  George Gershwin,  Igor Stravinsky  ... 
    Performer:  David Parkhouse
    Conductor:  Bernard Herrmann
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Festival Recording Ensemble
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  • 2.
    Creepy Classics: Halloween's Greatest Hits
    Label: 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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  • 3.
    Gershwin / K. & M. Labeque, Chailly, Maazel, Cleveland Orchestra [7-CD Collector's Edition]
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 001546202 Release Date: 04/19/2011   Number of Discs: 7
    Composer:  George Gershwin,  Robert Russell Bennett
    Performer:  Katia Labčque,  Marielle Labčque,  Ralph Votapek,  Peter Jablonski  ... 
    Conductor:  Riccardo Chailly,  Arthur Fiedler,  Vladimir Ashkenazy,  John Mauceri  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cleveland Orchestra,  Boston Pops,  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra  ... 
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  • 4.
    Holst: The Planets, Perfect Fool, Moorside Suite / Herrmann, Boult, Howard, Fennell
    Label: Eloquence   Catalog: 4802323 Release Date: 01/25/2011   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Gustav Holst
    Performer:  Julia Bogorad,  Kathryn Greenbank
    Conductor:  Bernard Herrmann,  Sir Adrian Boult,  Christopher Hogwood,  Frederick Fennell  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Philharmonic Orchestra,  St. Paul Chamber Orchestra,  Eastman Wind Ensemble  ... 
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  • 5.
    Bernard Hermann: Film Classics
    Label: Eloquence   Catalog: 4803784 Release Date: 11/19/2010   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Bernard Herrmann
    Conductor:  Bernard Herrmann
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  National Philharmonic Orchestra,  London Philharmonic Orchestra
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  • 6.
    Cinema Spectacular / Bernard Herrmann
    Label: Eloquence   Catalog: 4803787 Release Date: 11/19/2010   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Constant Lambert,  Arnold Bax,  Arthur Benjamin,  Ralph Vaughan Williams  ... 
    Conductor:  Bernard Herrmann
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  National Philharmonic Orchestra,  London Philharmonic Orchestra
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  • 7.
    Rozsa: Ben Hur, Quo Vadis, Julius Caesar / Rozsa, Herrmann, National Philharmonic
    Label: Eloquence   Catalog: 4803790 Release Date: 11/19/2010   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Miklós Rózsa
    Conductor:  Miklós Rózsa,  Bernard Herrmann
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  National Philharmonic Orchestra,  National Philharmonic Chorus London,  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra  ... 
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  • 8.
    Bax: Coronation March, November Woods, Tintagel
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 473080 Release Date: 01/28/2010   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Arnold Bax
    Conductor:  Sir Adrian Boult,  Sir Neville Marriner,  Bernard Herrmann,  Sir Malcolm Sargent
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Philharmonic Orchestra,  Academy of St. Martin in the Fields,  National Philharmonic Orchestra  ... 
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  • 9.
    Phase 4 Stereo - Great British Film Music / Herrmann, Et Al
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 448954 Release Date: 09/30/2008   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Sir Arthur Bliss,  Sir William Walton,  Ralph Vaughan Williams,  Arthur Benjamin  ... 
    Conductor:  Bernard Herrmann
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  National Philharmonic Orchestra
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  • 10.
    Phase 4 Stereo - The Great Hitchcock Movie Thrillers
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 443895 Release Date: 10/22/2007   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Bernard Herrmann
    Conductor:  Bernard Herrmann
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Philharmonic Orchestra
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  • 11.
    Great Film Music Of Bernard Herrmann
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 443899 Release Date: 09/11/2007   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Bernard Herrmann
    Conductor:  Bernard Herrmann
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  National Philharmonic Orchestra
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  • 12.
    Phase 4 Stereo - Herrmann: Music From Great Film Classics
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 448948 Release Date: 08/29/2007   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Bernard Herrmann
    Conductor:  Bernard Herrmann
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Philharmonic Orchestra,  National Philharmonic Orchestra
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  • 13.
    Ives: Symphony No 2, Orchestral Set 2 / Stokowski, Herrmann
    Label: London/Decca Weekend Classics   Catalog: 433017 Release Date: 08/20/2007   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Charles Ives
    Conductor:  Bernard Herrmann,  Leopold Stokowski
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra
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  • 14.
    Scott: Piano Concertos No 1 & 2, Early One Morning
    Label: Lyrita   Catalog: 251 Release Date: 04/10/2007   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Cyril Scott
    Performer:  John Ogdon
    Conductor:  Bernard Herrmann
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Philharmonic Orchestra
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  • 15.
    For The Hopeless Romantic
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 000387702 Release Date: 01/11/2005   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Sergei Rachmaninov,  Edvard Grieg,  Gabriel Fauré  ... 
    Performer:  Raymond Leppard,  Jean-Yves Thibaudet,  Heinz Holliger,  Julian Lloyd Webber  ... 
    Conductor:  Raymond Leppard,  Neeme Järvi,  Ernest Ansermet,  Iona Brown  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  English Chamber Orchestra,  Cleveland Orchestra,  Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra  ... 
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  • 16.
    Gershwin: Piano Concerto, Etc / Szidon, Josefowicz, Williams
    Label: Universal   Catalog: 000218202 Release Date: 04/13/2004   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  George Gershwin
    Performer:  Roberto Szidon,  Leila Josefowicz,  John Novacek,  David Parkhouse
    Conductor:  John Williams,  Edward Downes,  Riccardo Chailly,  Bernard Herrmann
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Boston Pops,  London Philharmonic Orchestra,  Cleveland Orchestra  ... 
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  • 17.
    Debussy - Greatest Hits
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 000069302 Release Date: 08/12/2003   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli,  Pascal Rogé,  Julian Lloyd Webber
    Conductor:  Giuseppe Sinopoli,  Pierre Boulez,  Ernest Ansermet,  John Williams  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra,  Cleveland Orchestra,  Suisse Romande Orchestra  ... 
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  • 18.
    Essential Gershwin - 20 Of His Greatest Masterpieces
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 472780 Release Date: 02/11/2003   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  George Gershwin
    Performer:  Barbara Hendricks,  Marielle Labčque,  Katia Labčque,  Patti Austin  ... 
    Conductor:  John Mauceri,  Arthur Fiedler,  Bernard Herrmann,  Riccardo Chailly  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Hollywood Bowl Symphony Orchestra,  Boston Pops,  London Festival Orchestra Ensemble  ... 
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  • 19.
    Bliss: Introduction And Allegro, Concerto For Cello & Orchestra, Meditiations
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 470186 Release Date: 05/20/2002   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Sir Arthur Bliss
    Performer:  Alfredo Campoli,  Robert Cohen
    Conductor:  Sir Arthur Bliss,  Bernard Herrmann,  Elgar Howarth,  Barry Wordsworth
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra,  National Philharmonic Orchestra,  Philip Jones Brass Ensemble  ... 
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  • 20.
    For Your Life - For A Rainy Day
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 470237 Release Date: 10/02/2001   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Sir Edward Elgar,  Edvard Grieg,  Fritz Kreisler  ... 
    Performer:  Raymond Leppard,  Joshua Bell,  Iona Brown,  Carmel Kaine  ... 
    Conductor:  Raymond Leppard,  Sir Georg Solti,  Sir Neville Marriner,  Gianandrea Gavazzeni  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  English Chamber Orchestra,  Chicago Symphony Orchestra,  Academy of St. Martin in the Fields  ... 
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  • 21.
    Aromatherapy 01: Nocturne/Various
    Label: Eloquence   Catalog: 4667032 Release Date: 04/30/2001   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Frédéric Chopin,  Claude Debussy,  Edvard Grieg,  Sir Edward Elgar  ... 
    Performer:  Joseph Cooper,  Ilana Vered,  Radu Lupu
    Conductor:  Bernard Herrmann,  Stanley Black,  Raymond Agoult
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Philharmonic Orchestra,  London Symphony Orchestra,  New Symphony Orchestra of London
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  • 22.
    40 Famous Marches
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 466241 Release Date: 02/08/2000   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  George Frideric Handel,  Sir Arthur Bliss,  Sir William Walton,  Carl Nielsen  ... 
    Performer:  Peter Hurford,  Simon Preston,  Carlo Curley
    Conductor:  Richard Bonynge,  Bernard Herrmann,  Roger Norrington,  Herbert Blomstedt  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  English Chamber Orchestra,  National Philharmonic Orchestra,  London Philharmonic Orchestra  ... 
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  • 23.
    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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  • 24.
    Phase 4 Stereo - Music From Great Shakespeare Films
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 455156 Release Date: 11/11/1997   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Sir William Walton,  Dmitri Shostakovich,  Miklós Rózsa
    Conductor:  Bernard Herrmann
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  National Philharmonic Orchestra
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  • 25.
    Pan-americana - The Violin Artistry Of Louis Kaufman
    Label: Cambria   Catalog: 1078 Release Date: 08/01/1996   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Harold Triggs,  Darius Milhaud,  Camargo Mozart Guarnieri,  Everett Helm  ... 
    Performer:  Annette Kaufman,  Louis Kaufman,  Theodore Saidenberg,  Artur Balsam
    Conductor:  Bernard Herrmann
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Columbia Symphony Orchestra
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