Bernard Herrmann — the composer of such classics as Citizen Kane, Vertigo, Psycho and North by Northwest — is today more revered and influential than even during his lifetime. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences and The Film Music Foundation deemed his legacy important enough to launch an oral-history project focusing on this key American composer. So far we have done nearly four hours of interviews with biographer Steven Smith, director Larry Cohen, editor Paul Hirsch, conductor Richard Kaufman, the composer’s daughter Dorothy Herrmann, and Foundation executive Les Zador. They are all available here, at the Foundation’s website. More interviews are expected to be done in December.
With the opening of The Post, Steven Spielberg’s new newspaper drama with its score by the legendary John Williams, I thought it might be a good time to look back at past movies with a newspaper setting and the music that accompanied them (and added a bit of information and commentary for each). So for this week’s online Variety, I found YouTube videos of music from Citizen Kane, Sweet Smell of Success, The Front Page, All the President’s Men, The Paper and Spotlight. Comments from composers Elmer Bernstein, David Shire and Howard Shore are included.
I was delighted to be included in Daniel Griffith’s two new documentaries on the creation of television’s classic Twilight Zone series. Along with my old friends Steven Smith (Bernard Herrmann’s biographer) and Matt Roush (TV Guide critic), it’s a pleasure to be discussing the origins and history of the Twilight Zone themes by Herrmann and French composer Marius Constant. There are a lot of terrific “extras” in this set, which includes both the classic series and its 1980s update.
On Saturday, I was honored to host the San Francisco Symphony’s “Night at the Oscars” concert, which included excerpts — played “live to picture” — from classic film scores including Erich Wolfgang Korngold’s Adventures of Robin Hood, Max Steiner’s Gone With the Wind, Miklos Rozsa’s Ben-Hur, Bernard Herrmann’s Citizen Kane, and Harold Arlen and Herbert Stothart’s Wizard of Oz.
It was great fun to share the podium with conductor Constantine Kitsopoulos and to work with legendary TV and concert producer John Goberman. We had some laughs and the audience really loved the music. We even got a nice review.
I include this because it’s extraordinary to think that my byline is alongside those of Terry Southern, Dennis Hopper and John Gregory Dunne in this Hollywood-themed issue of the quarterly journal on art and culture — once described by The New York Times as “one of the most revered literary magazines of the postwar era.” I was invited to write an essay on the relationship between director Alfred Hitchcock and composer Bernard Herrmann, and although my original 4,000-word piece was trimmed back to two pages, at least I got paid and they spelled my name correctly. This issue was dated Summer 1994; Grand Street ceased publication in 2004.