One of the greatest film composers of all time would have been 100 today.
Bernard Herrmann is best known for his long term collaboration with Alfred Hitchcock, but his career was a remarkable one that saw him score for directors such as Orson Welles, Fred Zinneman, Nicholas Ray, François Truffaut, Brian De Palma and Martin Scorsese.
Groundbreaking in so many ways, Herrmann’s distinctive score marked him out as a composer to watch and he won an Oscar for his second film, William Dieterle’s The Devil and Daniel Webster (1941).
His work with Hitchcock began with The The Trouble with Harry (1955) and was followed up when the director remade his own movie The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956) – Herrmann even makes a cameo appearence as the conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra during the sequence at the Royal Albert Hall.
Arguably the most famous director and composer team ever, Herrmann’s scores for Vertigo (1958), North By Northwest (1959) and Psycho (1960) are gold-plated classics and on The Birds (1963) he created an innovative sound design instead of a traditional soundtrack.
The latter film provided a fitting epitaph with its brilliant use of percusion, strings and saxophone. Scorsese dedicated the finished picture to him.
Back in 1988, KIOS-FM broadcast a 2 hour radio documentary on Herrmann’s life and career by Bruce Crawford and Bob Coate, and you can listen to it in three parts here: www.bernardherrmann.org/articles/present-celebration-broadcast
You can also watch part of a documentary on him here:
NPR also broadcast an interview with Professor Jack Sullivan about his book Hitchcock’s Music back in 2007:
And finally, this photo is a classic: