Thursday, June 30, 2011

Happy Birthday Herrmann!

This being the 100th birthday of the late Bernard Herrmann, at least for another hour or so on this coast, it seems worth noting again that he's an exceptional film composer. The links have rotted from this four-year-old post about his Hitchcock film overtures but my affection for them remains the same; I wish the copyright holders would just put those opening credits on Vevo and let them stand freely as short film pieces, which they do pretty well.

Vertigo remains my favorite of Herrmann's film scores, narrowly beating out Psycho and Taxi Driver, so it's intriguing to hear it serving as a spacey femme fatale signifier in the obligatory, batshit-goofy prologue to Lady Gaga's recent "Born This Way" video. (In fact, based on the slow statement of the main theme I believe it comes from Esa-Pekka Salonen's recording of Herrmann suites with the L.A. Philharmonic, a disc that I've gotten a ton of mileage out of although its extreme tempos have worn on me a bit.) As a pop appearance of a Herrmann score it's not nearly as charming as the Psycho sample in Busta Rhymes' "Gimme Some More" from a dozen or so years ago, but it points to a continuing place in the popular imagination for Herrmann's work, or at least for the orchestral cinema music which he exemplifies.


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