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Bernard Herrmann


mm123
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He's generally regarded as the greatest composer of movie music. In a class by himself. I collect records by Herrmann if I can get them cheaply & easily. People think music has to sound like the genre it is used. Not true. Herrmann made music for every type of movie & it all sounds the same. You could use it on any other movie & it works perfectly. I found a record of Herrmann doing HAVE GUN WILL TRAVEL 10 min.& other Western theme tv shows. The other shows are ETHAN ALLEN 10 min.which was only a pilot & was never made into a tv show. & a Western Suite 20 min.of other bits of music he made for CBS-TV 1957-63

 

It cost me $.30 to buy this record & It has not yet been issued on cd. None of the music sounds western. It is all the same as Sinbad, Jason, etc. fantastic sounds with harps, loud thundering drums - brass etc.

 

It seems this is a rare record. I guess I got lucky. :)

 

 

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For those of you who may be considering buying cds of Hermann scores, a big problem arose when there was a buck to be made. After he died in 1975 there was a ton of new issues of Herrmann scores that were made by other people. I got one dirt cheap on cassette for North By Northwest & it is just off.

I usually don't pay much for this anyway but my take on this whole Film music thing is if the music is removed from the film it loses its meaning/ reason for being. Maybe I'm wrong. I hear & its just a rumor that Herrmann made a score for Torn Curtain & Hitchcock turned it down & hired somebody else. The movie might have been ok with Herrmann's score on it. But the way it is now it is just a dead movie. DOA.

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Herrmann USED to sound repetative to me, since many of his scores after *The Day The Earth Stood Still* sounded like small reworkings of that score. I was more impressed by his score of *Citizen Kane* than any others.

 

Sepiatone

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I think Hitchcock felt threatened because Herrmann was very serious about his craft. On my record HAVE GUN WILL TRAVEL it says "Composed & Orchestrated by" so he dd not actually record the record. It was made in 1984. What they did was listen to the tapes CBS had & get the sheet music & rerecord what he did for CBS in Stereo.

Why I went looking for records that day. I have an acetate - its a floppy 7" disc for SWING ERA a record set made by Capitol Records for Time-Life. They rerecorded the swing band songs in stereo using the records & sheet music as a guide. I was only able to find one Swing Era record. But they had a ton of records 3 for a dollar so I went back 3 times & looked thru the entire store.

I also got a Bonnie & Clyde Soundtrack & a very unusual record: George Raft doing his part of "They Drive By Night" & they enclose a script in which you are supposed to read out loud. But it was just the record. No script. You can tell a 50's record because its made out of heavy plastic.

I also found a Sinatra 12" 78rpm single with "Stormy Weather" on one side & "Ol Man River" on the other.

Back to Have Gun Will Travel... Album produced for Cerberus Records by Richard Jones

1. Have Gun Will Travel (main title)

2. The Street - The Card

3. The Fight

4. Travel

5. The Rocks

6. The Return

7. Captured - Reunited

8. End Title

They used the end title for season 1. After which they created a theme song by Johnny Western

ETHAN ALLEN

1. Main Title - The Arrest

2. The Meeting

3. Call To Duty - The Fight

4. The Tories

5. Albany

6. Rural Grotesque

7. The Jail

8. The Escape

9. End Title

 

WESTERN SUITE

1. Prelude

2. The Ambush

3. Tranquil Landscape

4. Dark Valley

5. The Meadows

6. Bad Man

7. Gunfight

8. Rain Clouds

9. Sun Clouds

 

I have listened to it once already. Every time I make coffee or food I put it on while stuff is happening. Thats how I do it.

 

Have Gun Will Travel "The classic CBS TV western series made a striking impact when it premiered in 1957. The dark tales of the dressed in black, Shakespeare quoting, gun for hire named Paladin were a strong contrast to the "Good Guys" and "Singing Cowboys" that Hollywood had overpopulated the airwaves.

The Producers wanting to further avoid western cliches, hired Bernard Herrmann to write the main title & score for the pilot, & typically Herrmann delivered the unexpected. Suddenly gone were the twangy guitars and reassuring ballads of the other television cowboys, and Paladin appeared in violent four note bursts of brass & percussion."

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> {quote:title=mm123 wrote:}{quote}He's generally regarded as the greatest composer of movie music.

mm, I am not sure who it is that you are referencing to that regard Hermmann as the greatest composer of movie music, but I think you will get arguments on that. Others who might be up for that title:

 

Max Steiner

Alfred Newman

Erich Wolfgang Korngold

Miklos Rozsa

Franz Waxman

 

or more recently:

 

John WIlliams

Jerry Goldsmith

John Barry

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filmlover,

true enough, all those composers you named are great {with a special fondness for Rozsa} but surely Herrmann would be in the all-time top ten of great film composers. His sound was his own and unique to films, especially at that time.The mood and atmosphere he brought to any film he composed for added to that film immeasurably.

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> {quote:title=cinemanut wrote:}{quote}filmlover,

> true enough, all those composers you named are great {with a special fondness for Rozsa} *but surely Herrmann would be in the all-time top ten of great film composers.* His sound was his own and unique to films, especially at that time.The mood and atmosphere he brought to any film he composed for added to that film immeasurably.

 

 

 

 

 

 

As darkblue pointed out, saying he is in the top ten places him somewhat different than the "greatest." The others I mention could easily all find a place in the top ten, too. Herrmann had a distinctive sound and he could handle different genres, but when I think of Herrmann, I think of lots of low, deep-tone sounds on the whole (SInbad, Taxi Driver, Hangover Square) . He could go to the opposite with lots of violins (Psycho and North by Northwest). I would probably put him around #5 in the top ten.

 

Personally (and that is all this can be is a personal choice), I would select Miklos Rozsa. First off, I think he wrote the greatest film score of all time...Ben-Hur. Besides Biblical epics, he could do psychological thrillers, film noir, adventure, and more.

 

I think Korngold could rank as #2 because of the grandness of his scores (Adventures of Robin Hood and others). Max Steiner composed hundreds of scores, from King King to Bette Davis films to Bogart to Errol Flynn, and so many, many more.

 

And on and on the list goes. Everybody to their own.

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Greatest composer for Hollywood movies? This discussion ignores:

 

Maurice Jarre

Ennio Morricone

Nino Rota

 

And composers who have written film scores:

 

Aaron Copland

Sergei Prokofiev

Dmitri Shostakovitch

 

But for a pure soundtrack composer, yes, I would say Herrmann is the best.

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Herrmann has sold more records than those people combined. He had a very unique style, very downbeat & way out. He touched a core in listeners. Swept them up. & the lucky part was that he arrived at the moment his talents were needed most. Hollywood was breaking out of the 30's conformity into a more expressive period. After he died there was such a demand for his music, that there was a ton of bogus Herrmann records out there & bootlegs of records made from the sound strip on the films. I have a few bogus ones & a few bootlegs. He made very few records himself. :)

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Lest we forget:

 

Leonard Bernstein

Elmer Bernstein

Randy Newman

David Raskin

Henry Mancini

Neil Hefti

David Amram

 

 

As I stated earlier, Herrmann had a distinctive style that was oft repeated in many scores. The novice might walk away thinking Herrmann was a "one trick pony". His earlier( pre-'50's) work was much better, in my opinion.

 

As to who was the "best" does remain a personal opinion. As for me, the jury is still out.

 

Sepiatone

 

 

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What about Elmer Bernstein? He wrote for epics (The Ten Commandments), westerns (The Magnificent Seven), adventure (The Great Escape), jazz (The Man With the Golden Arm), drama (To Kill a Mockingbird), and comedy (Animal House).

 

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Sepiatone mentioned Neal Hefti. I know he's famous for his comedies, but he scored a 1966 western ("Duel at Diablo") which is one of a kind.

 

The electric guitar main theme and his music for a pitched battle between Indians and cavalry are remarkable.

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>FBT:

>Why isn't Jerry Goldsmith in there?

 

I thought I was clear in my post, intending to bring attention to composers who were as good as Herrmann, but didn't work in American films (after all, Americans aren't the only ones who wrote great music for film), and composers who wrote scores, but whose main work was elsewhere.

 

Though Herrmann was the best composer of film scores, Prokofiev, Shostakovitch, Copland, and Bernstein (Leonard) wrote music that was more important.

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I just watched an early episode of Gunsmoke & sure enough, Herrmann's music was on there. At the end it said Music By Bernard Herrmann. I think on the HAVE GUN WILL TRAVEL record, the Western Suite is Gunsmoke but they were not allowed to mention the show. After that episode, the next one had a very lighthearted music. No composer credit.

Other movie composers made good music, there is no denying that. But none of them made as many good ones or had as much an impact as Herrmann. After Herrmann at no. 1 there is a long drop until no. 2.

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> {quote:title=mm123 wrote: }{quote}

> Other movie composers made good music, there is no denying that. But none of them made as many good ones or had as much an impact as Herrmann. After Herrmann at no. 1 there is a long drop until no. 2.

mm123, you keep making statements that should be followed by an "in my opinion." Because that's all it is...just your opinion. To say that no other composers had as many good ones (by that, I suppose you mean "scores") or had as much of an impact as Herrmann is a stretch. And saying that there is a long drop from first place to second is not only ludicrous but arrogant. For example, you said in an earlier post, "Herrmann has sold more records than those people combined." Do you have a link to that? I find it impossible to believe that a composer like Aaron Copland was ever outsold by Herrmann, when you consider he wrote many major American classic orchestral pieces not in movies. And someone like James Horner has likely sold more of one album than any film composer with Titanic.

 

My first thought was that would be a hard thing to prove when someone like Max Steiner scored over 300 movies, while Herrmann scored only about 50. In Steiner's corner, there is Gone With The Wind, King Kong, Now Voyager, Casablanca, and do many more. He was nominated 24 times to Herrmann's 5.

 

Now, please know, I am a major fan of Herrmann and can list quite a few good scores...but so, too, for each Herrmann you list, I could easily do likewise with majestic scores by Miklos Rozsa: Spellbound, The Thief of Bagdad, Ben-Hur, El Cid, The Killers, Sahara, Double Indemnity, The Lost Weekend, Quo Vadis, Lust for Life, King of Kings, Time After Time, etc.

 

But I will cut you a little slack by me being a nice guy by letting you know you should also pick up the soundtrack to Kill Bill Vol. 1

 

Edited by: filmlover on Apr 16, 2013 10:24 PM

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