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Wednesday
Jun292011

A Centennial Shout-Out (Shriek Out?) To Bernard Hermann

You know what was more shocking than Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds (1963) not having a film score? That Hitch' always had Bernard Hermann at the ready and still went without one.

The internet often does a spectacularly bad job of noting important history (it's all future-future-future which an occassional "now") so you wouldn't know that today marks the 100th anniversary of one of the most important film composers who ever lived!

What would the cinema even sound like without Hermann's shrieking violins from Psycho (1960) for instance? Different surely, and lesser though perhaps it would be a relief if people stopped ripping it off and moved on. Supposedly Hitchcock didn't even want them at first.

Some other notable films include Citizen Kane (debut), The Ghost and Mrs Muir, Cape Fear, North by Northwest and Taxi Driver (1976), his last, which he just barely completed before his death on Christmas Eve of 1975.

True to the odd odd form of Oscar's music branch, Hermann was never nominated for his frequent collaborations with Hitchcock, though those scores remain the best remembered work of his career. He received five nominations in total. In a strange twin coincidence his first two nominations (a double dip for 1941) were for his first two films (Citizen Kane and The Devil and Daniel Webster) and his last two nominations (a double dip for 1976 posthumously) were for his two last scores (Taxi Driver and Obsession). He won his only Oscar for The Devil and Daniel Webster (1941) right at the start.


Listen to one of his film scores while you work today! Do you have a favorite?

Related Post: Hit Me With Your Best Shot "PSYCHO"

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Reader Comments (2)

I would have to say that as far as Hermann scores go, North By Northwest takes it for me, but the score I'm most grateful to him for is Stephen Sondheim's Sweeney Todd, which was written as a stylistic homage to Hermann. It is a testament to Herman's immense skill that such inspiration could be drawn from his work. Every score he wrote was impeccably crafted, and it is this precision and skill that makes him probably the most influential, but maybe even more importantly, one of the most enjoyable composers in the history of film.

June 30, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterTB

TB -- somehow i didn't know this and Sweeney Todd is indeed a work of genius. knowing it was inspired by another genius makes it more delicious. thanks for commenting. i was sad that no websites celebrated this centennial

June 30, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterNathaniel R
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