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Bernard Herrmann

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Album Review

Performed by the National Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by the composer. An early champion of new music, conducting premieres of several Charles Ives scores in the '30s, Herrmann completely changed the idea of the film score from heavily operatic and kitschy "incidental music" to using only the barest of melody-like gestures or patterns in pure theme-and-variations form. This procedure is fully demonstrated in this recording, in his score for Hitchcock's Vertigo (1958) with its shocking polytonal harmonies (Mercury 422 106-2, issued 1986), and even in his last score for Martin Scorsese's Taxi Driver (1976) (Varese Sarabande VSD-5279, issued 1986) where the patterns over jazz harmonies are as totally symmetrical, as in the work of John Coltrane (especially "Naima" and "Giant Steps") and Jon Gibson. The orchestration and extended harp arpeggios recall his music for Nicholas Ray's On Dangerous Ground (1951) (issued on videodisc, Image Entertainment 1989) and Robert Wise's The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951) (issued on videodisc, CBS Fox 1011-80) which sounds remarkably like a Philip Glass score. In interviews, Glass has stated his early interest in Herrmann's music. Herrmann's concert music is more traditional but still remarkable for its clarity of line (especially recommended is the Souvenirs de Voyage for clarinet and string quartet (1967) issued 1991 on Delos DE 3088). ~ "Blue" Gene Tyranny, Rovi

Customer Reviews

Falsely described-Not Bernard Herrmann conducted versions

These recordings are by the Prague Philharmonic not the National Philharmonic Orchestra. This package does include some wonderful scores but the interpertations are not as powerful as the ones conducted by Bernard Herrmann.

The master of menace

This is an excellent sampler of Bernard Herrman's work with various directors from Orson Welles to Hitchcock. I love listening to his music. It lulls me into a strange dreamy place. I was all my dreams could be scored by Bernard Herrmann.


Born: June 29, 1911 in New York, NY

Genre: Soundtrack

Years Active: '30s, '40s, '50s, '60s, '70s

Bernard Herrmann was arguably the most innovative film composer of the 1940s, '50s, and '60s, even though he actually rejected the term "film composer," preferring to call himself a composer who sometimes wrote film scores. That was an apt description for a musician who, in addition to his film work, also composed works in a variety of other forms including opera, symphony, musical comedy, and concert music, as well as writing extensively for radio and television, while maintaining a concurrent conducting...
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