Wednesday would have been composer Bernard Hermann’s 100th birthday.
Hermann is considered by many to be the greatest film composer of all time. His style has been imitated many times over. Some of the greatest films ever made has Hermann’s stamp on it.
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 worked with other notable directors, such as Orson Welles’, François Truffaut and Martin Scorcese.
You would be surprized to know that from all of his notable works, he only received one Oscar win, in 1941 for the movie, “The Devil and Daniel Webster”.
In celebration of his centennial, here’s a list of some of my favorite works by Hermann, courtesy of YouTube.
Citizen Kane (1941) – In the opera scene, Susan Alexander Kane couldn’t hold a note on “Aria”. Soprano Kiri Te Kanawa sings the way it should have been sung in the movie.
North by Northwest (1959) – After listening to this musical score, who couldn’t imagine seeing Cary Grant being chased by a plane in the middle of nowheresville Iowa? Or how about holding on for your dear life on Mount Rushmore?
Vertigo (1958) – Next to Psycho, this was Hermann’s haunting and most powerful work. Not to mention the film being Alfred Hitchcock’s hidden masterpiece.
Psycho (1960) – After listening to this music, who could even think about going to a motel or taking a shower? Revolutionary work for horror music composers.
Mysterious Island (1961) – This work generates the adventure to the listener, the sheer embodiment of the film. It stays true to Jules Verne’s vision.
Cape Fear (1962 & 1991) – Both used in the original and the remake, Hermann shows the listener the tension and urgency of the film.
Twisted Nerve (1968) & Kill Bill, Vol 1. (2003) – Though I’ve never seen the film, “Twisted Nerve”, I did heard the music in Quentin Tarantino’s Kung Fu masterpiece. You can also hear it on a ringtone in Tarantino’s Grindhouse feature, “Death Proof”.
Obsession (1975) – My personal favorite work from Hermann. Brian dePalma used Hermann for his previous film, “Sisters”. The music emphasizes sorrow over a loss and hope for the future.
Taxi Driver (1976) – Created a few weeks before his death, this work captures the dark side of a once vibrant city and the inside of a disturbed soul.
For more information on his work, check out the Bernard Hermann Society webpage at www.bernardherrmann.org.