Bernard Herrmann (1911-1975)



Donald Macleod explores the life and work of Bernard Herrmann, best remembered for producing groundbreaking scores for film directors, ranging from Orson Welles and Alfred Hitchcock to Martin Scorsese.

In his own eyes, though, Herrmann saw himself simply as a 'composer', rather than a film composer and his catalogue supports that claim, as it includes a full length opera, chamber and symphonic music.

A brilliant and complex character, his formative years in New York helped establish a unique approach to music.

Donald focuses on Herrmann's early years, when, with his natural pushiness, coupled with a New York upbringing, he became known among the movers and shakers in the music business.

Through Aaron Copland's Young Composers' Group, he first heard the music of Charles Ives, a composer for whom he would have a lifelong enthusiasm.

The Murder from Psycho (excerpt)

National Philharmonic Orchestra

Bernard Herrmann (conductor)

Unicorn Kanchana UKCD 2021 Tr 17

Prelude and Love Scene from Vertigo

London Philharmonic Orchestra

London 443 895-2 Tr 4

Currier and Ives Suite


Donald Macleod explores the life and work of Bernard Herrmann, surveying the years he spent at CBS as a radio and TV composer and conductor.

Herrmann joined CBS in the 1930s, and as a relatively new broadcasting organisation, it offered him an exciting platform for his musical innovations.

He was in his element and happily met the challenges of live programming with startlingly original scores for numerous radio and TV broadcasts, including classics such as an adaptation of Aldous Huxley's Brave New World and The Twilight Zone.

Exuberance from The Walt Whitman Suite

CBS Orchestra

Cerberus Records CST 0210 S1, B1

The Brave New World Suite

Cerberus Records CST 0210 S2 B1

Little Girl Lost - Where are you? (The Twilight Zone)



Donald Macleod explores the life and work of Bernard Herrmann, concentrating on the impact Great Britain's writers, culture and landscape had on the composer.

He was a self-confessed Anglophile and numerous trips to England resulted in several important projects, including one of his most ambitious - an adaptation of Emily Bronte's novel Wuthering Heights.

Prelude to The Ghost and Mrs Muir

20th Century Fox Studio Orchestra

Bernard Herrmann (conductor)

Varese Sarabande VSD 5850 Tr 2

January (The Fantasticks)

Michael Rippon (bass)

National Philharmonic Orchestra

UKCD 2063 Tr 5

Rochester, Rochester's Past, the Fire, Duo - the Door, The Wedding - The Wife (Jane Eyre)

Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra

Adriano (conductor)

Naxos 8.223535 Trs 8, 10, 11, 18

Nelly will you keep a secret...

Isn't that Heathcliff? (Wuthering Heights, Act 2)

Catherine Earnshaw Morag Beaton (soprano)

Nelly Linton Elizabeth Bainbridge (mezzo-soprano)

Joseph Michael Rippon (bass)

Pro Arte Orchestra

UKCD 2050/51/52 CD2 Trs 6, 7, 8

Concerto Macabre (Hangover Square)

Philip Fowke (piano)

RTE Concert Orchestra

Proinnsias O Duinn (conductor)

Naxos 8.554323 Tr 7.

Donald Macleod on how Britain's writers, culture and landscape affected Bernard Herrmann.



Donald Macleod explores the fruitful years Bernard Herrmann spent in Hollywood.

He worked with innovative sci-fi producer Ray Harryhausen and enjoyed a hugely successful collaboration with film director Alfred Hitchcock for 11 years - until its abrupt end over the music for Torn Curtain.

Main titles to North by Northwest

London Studio Symphony Orchestra

Laurie Johnson (conductor)

UKCD 2040 Tr 1

Outer Space (The Day the Earth Stood Still)

National Philharmonic Orchestra

Bernard Herrmannn (conductor)

London 4438992

Track 11

A portrait of 'Hitch' (The Trouble with Harry)

London Philharmonic Orchestra

Bernard Herrmann (conductor)

London 4438952 Tr 5

Overture; The Duel with the Skeleton; Baghdad (The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad)

Track 2, Decca 421 266-2

Suite for Psycho

London 4438952 Tr 1

Prelude; The Radiogram/Hotel; Valse Lente (Torn Curtain)

The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra

Elmer Bernstein (conductor)

Warner BSK 3185 S1.

Donald Macleod explores Bernard Herrmann's collaboration with Alfred Hitchcock



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Donald Macleod's exploration of the life and work of Bernard Herrmann concludes with a look at the contradictory aspects of the composer's complex personality.

Herrmann was as complex as any of the characters in the films he wrote music for.

His life was full of contradictions and tensions that were never fully resolved.

He could be paranoid, irascible, abrasive and volatile but he remained a romantic at heart.

He could also be generous and compassionate but as a perfectionist in his chosen art was perhaps doomed never to be satisfied.

Twisted Nerve