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Classical Notes

Herrmann at the movies

Posted at 2:38 PM on April 6, 2011 by Alison Young

Screeching strings lash out abve a pulsating beat in time with thevslash of a butcher knife. it's the soundtrack for one of the most famous scenes in movie history, a moment so classic, it's hard now to believe that Alfred Hitchcock originally planned there to be no music whatsoever.

The music for "Psycho" - along with scores for nearly every Hitchcock film, Orson Welles "Citizen Kane," Martin Scorsese's "Taxi Driver" and Francois Truffaut's "Farenheit 451" were written by one man - a genius in creating the most terrifying atmospheres and some of the most tender too - Bernard Hermann.

Directors knew who they were dealing with and gave him a good deal of latitude. Herrmann writes:

"I have the final say, or I don't do the music. The reason for insisting on this is simply, compared to Orson Wells a man of great musical culture, most other directors are just babes in the woods. If you were to follow their taste, the music would be awful. And Hitchcock, you know, is very sensitive; he leaves me alone. It depends on the person. But if I have to take what a director says, I'd rather not do the film. I find it's impossible to work that way."

The Minnesota Opera presents Herrmann's only opera "Wuthering Heights" in its first major revival beginning April 16th. The opera was written in Minneapolis in 1951 and this year marks the centenary of Herrmann's birth, so it's fitting to stage this forgotten classic.

And getting in on the act throughout town, Take Up Productions is screening some of the best films. Take in at least one!