Tuesday, July 31, 2012
AccuRadio Song Of The Day-Bernard Herrmann
Song:Theme From Taxi Driver
Album:Taxi Driver: Original Soundtrack Recording
Bernard Herrmann is one of the greatest and most influential film music composers. Along with guys like Max Steiner and Franz Waxman, Herrmann invented sophisticated music for films. It's not something the Hollywood studios put much thought into themselves. Herrmann is best known for his scores for Alfred Hitchcock films of the 50s. But he composed many innovative scores over the years. Taxi Driver was his final film as Herrmann died just as he finished it. He was born June 29, 1911 in New York City. Herrmann suffered from Sydenham's Syndrome, a neurological that affected personality development. It made him very high strung and later in Hollywood difficult to work with. Herrmann learned to play violin and studied music at New York University. In 1934, he started as a conductor for CBS Radio. It was here that he met Orson Welles and composed music for Mercury Theatre radio dramas. When Welles moved to Hollywood to direct Citizen Kane, he brought Herrmann with him. Citizen Kane was Herrmann's first film score. And though Citizen Kane is considered a classic today, back then the studios wanted to burn the negative at the behest of William Randolph Hearst. So Herrman didn't win an Oscar for Citizen Kane. He won an Oscar for William Dieterle's The Devil and Daniel Webster. He continued to work for CBS while composing scores. He worked for 20th Century Fox in the late 40s and composed for films like The Ghost and Mrs. Muir and The Day The Earth Stood Still with it's innovative use of the electronic instrument the theremin. What is a theremin? Think The Beach Boys' Good Vibrations. Herrmann's films for Hitchcock included The Trouble With Harry, Vertigo and Psycho. Psycho was very influential on how music was written for horror films for decades. Herrmann split with Hitchcock over the score for Torn Curtain. In the 60s, the studios wanted hit songs from film music. Herrmann resisted this trend but agreed to write a pop score for Hitchcock. But he couldn't actually do it so Hitchcock fired him. Herrmann also wrote scores for Ray Harryhausen films like The 7th Voyage Of Sinbad. And he wrote music for Rod Serling's Twilight Zone TV series. Herrmann's career was winding down when he wrote the score for Brian DePalma's 1973 film Sisters. DePalma recommended Herrmann to Martin Scorsese for Taxi Driver. The score is a departure for Herrmann because of the jazz elements in the score. The sax is played by veteran session musician Tom Scott. But the bottom line is the score suits the film perfectly. And that's what made Bernard Herrmann a great composer. Herrmann was finishing production of the score when he died of a heart attack in his sleep on Dec. 24, 1975 at age 64. Herrmann was getting ready to work on his next film which was to be Larry Cohen's God Told Me To. His arranger David Blume finished Taxi Driver and the soundtrack is available as a budget CD. Bernard Herrmann's influence on film music is immeasurable and his music stands up very well without the visuals. Here's Bernard Herrmann's Theme From Taxi Driver as it appeared in the opening credits of the film.