June 29: The late great Bernard Herrmann was born in 1911
Bernard Herrmann (June 29, 1911 – December 24, 1975) was an American composer known for his work in film.
An Academy Award-winner (for The Devil and Daniel Webster, 1941; later renamed All That Money Can Buy), Herrmann is particularly known for his collaborations with director Alfred Hitchcock, most famously Psycho, North by Northwest, The Man Who Knew Too Much, and Vertigo. He also composed scores for many other movies, including Citizen Kane, The Day the Earth Stood Still, The Ghost and Mrs. Muir, Cape Fear, and Taxi Driver. He worked extensively in radio drama (composing for Orson Welles), composed the scores for several fantasy films by Ray Harryhausen, and many TV programs, including Rod Serling’s The Twilight Zone and Have Gun–Will Travel.
Herrmann is still a prominent figure in the world of film music today, despite his death 40 years ago. As such, his career has been studied extensively by biographers and documentarians. His string-only score for Psycho, for example, set the standard when it became a new way to write music for thrillers (rather than big fully orchestrated pieces). In 1992 a documentary, Music for the Movies: Bernard Herrmann, was made about him. Also in 1992 a 2½ hour long National Public Radio documentary was produced on his life — Bernard Herrmann: A Celebration of his Life and Music (Bruce A. Crawford). In 1991, Steven C. Smith wrote a Herrmann biography titled A Heart at Fire’s Center, a quotation from a favorite Stephen Spender poem of Herrmann’s.
His music continues to be used in films and recordings after his death. “Georgie’s Theme” from Herrmann’s score for the 1968 film Twisted Nerve is whistled by one-eyed nurse Elle Driver in the hospital corridor scene in Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill Vol. 1 (2003). The opening theme from Vertigo was used in the prologue to Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way” video, and during a flashback sequence in the pilot episode of FX’s American Horror Story, which also featured “Georgie’s Theme” in later episodes as a recurring musical motif for the character of Tate. Fellow film composer Danny Elfman adapted Herrmann’s music for Psycho for use in director Gus Van Sant’s 1998 remake and borrowed from Herrmann’s “Mountaintop/Sunrise” theme, from Journey to the Center of the Earth, for his main Batman theme. On their 1977 album Ra, American progressive rock group Utopia also adapted “Mountaintop/Sunrise,” in a rock arrangement, as the introduction to the album’s opening song, “Communion With The Sun.” And most recently, Ludovic Bource used the love theme from Vertigo literally in the last reels of 2011’s The Artist.
Also check out this great documentary on Youtube:
Howard Goodall’s Twentieth Century Greats – Bernard Herrmann