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.