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Bernard Herrmann Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (4) | Mini Bio (1) | Spouse (3) | Trivia (13) | Personal Quotes (5) | Salary (2)

Overview (4)

Date of Birth 29 June 1911New York City, New York, USA
Date of Death 24 December 1975North Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, USA  (heart attack)
Nickname Benny
Height 5' 8" (1.73 m)

Mini Bio (1)

The man behind the low woodwinds that open Citizen Kane (1941), the shrieking violins of Psycho (1960), and the plaintive saxophone of Taxi Driver (1976) was one of the most original and distinctive composers ever to work in film. He started early, winning a composition prize at the age of 13 and founding his own orchestra at the age of 20. After writing scores for Orson Welles's radio shows in the 1930s (including the notorious 1938 "The War of the Worlds" broadcast), he was the obvious choice to score Welles's film debut, Citizen Kane (1941), and, subsequently, The Magnificent Ambersons (1942), although he removed his name from the latter after additional music was added without his (or Welles's) consent when the film was mutilated by a panic-stricken studio. Herrmann was a prolific film composer, producing some of his most memorable work for Alfred Hitchcock, for whom he wrote nine scores. A notorious perfectionist and demanding (he once said that most directors didn't have a clue about music, and he blithely ignored their instructions--like Hitchcock's suggestion that Psycho (1960) have a jazz score and no music in the shower scene). He ended his partnership with Hitchcock after the latter rejected his score for Torn Curtain (1966) on studio advice. He was also an early experimenter in the sounds used in film scores, most famously The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951), scored for two theremins, pianos, and a horn section; and was a consultant on the electronic sounds created by Oskar Sala on the mixtrautonium for The Birds (1963). His last score was for Martin Scorsese's Taxi Driver (1976) and died just hours after recording it. He also wrote an opera, "Wuthering Heights", and a cantata, "Moby Dick".

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Michael Brooke <michael@everyman.demon.co.uk>

Spouse (3)

Norma Shepherd (27 November 1967 - 24 December 1975) (his death)
Lucy Anderson (August 1949 - 1964) (divorced)
Lucille Fletcher (2 October 1939 - 1948) (divorced) (2 children)

Trivia (13)

Not one of Herrmann's scores for Alfred Hitchcock was nominated for an Academy Award. However, his scores for Psycho (1960) and Vertigo (1958) were ranked #4 and #12 by the American Film Institute for their list of the top 25 film scores in American cinema.
Among his early radio work, he scored Orson Welles' infamous "War of the Worlds" broadcast.
Was known to be a staunch Anglophile.
Regarded The Ghost and Mrs. Muir (1947) as his favorite of his own film scores. Some of the main thematic material in the score turned up in Herrmann's only opera, "Wuthering Heights."
Was supposed to score Brian De Palma's film Carrie (1976), but he died just before that movie's post production was started, so the job was taken over by Pino Donaggio.
Conductor for CBS Radio's "Crime Classics" (1953-1954).
Was the #1 inspiration and role model to composer Danny Elfman.
Pictured on one of six 33ยข USA commemorative postage stamps in the Legends of American Music series, honoring Hollywood Composers, issued 21 September 1999. Issued in panes of 20 stamps. Others honored in the set were Max Steiner, Dimitri Tiomkin, Franz Waxman, Alfred Newman, and Erich Wolfgang Korngold.
His second wife was the cousin of his first wife.
The last film he ever saw was Larry Cohen's God Told Me To (1976). Herrmann was Cohen's original choice to score the film because of his work on It's Alive (1974), but he died in his sleep that night, hours after it was screened for him. The film was dedicated to Herrmann in his honor.
Composed the original opening theme for The Twilight Zone (1959). Near the end of the first season, it was replaced by the more familiar theme composed by Marius Constant.
Alfred Hitchcock was so pleased by Herrmann's music for Psycho (1960) that he doubled his contracted fee for the score.

Personal Quotes (5)

Your views are as narrow as your tie.
In California, they like to pigeonhole you. From the time I began working for Hitchcock [Alfred Hitchcock], they decided I was a big suspense man. On other occasions, I've had fantasies of bittersweet romantic stories. I think I'd enjoy writing a good comedy score, but I've never had the luck to be offered such films. Mancini [Henry Mancini] gets the cheerful ones.
I wrote the main title to Psycho (1960) before Saul Bass even did the animation . . . After the main title, nothing much happens for 20 minutes or so. Appearances, of course, are deceiving, for in fact the drama starts immediately with the titles . . . I am firmly convinced, and so is Hitchcock [Alfred Hitchcock], that after the main titles you know something terrible must happen. The main title sequence tells you so, and that is its function: to set the drama. You don't need cymbal crashes or records that never sell.
[Good film music] . . . can invest a scene with terror, grandeur, gaiety or misery . . . \propel narrative swiftly forward, or slow it down.
[Alfred Hitchcock] only finishes a picture 60 percent. I have to finish it for him.

Salary (2)

Citizen Kane (1941) $10,000
Psycho (1960) $34,500

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