Bernard Herrmann, Super Genius

Written by Joe D on August 7th, 2012

Recently a new list of the 50 greatest films ever made was complied by experts. Usurping the past favorite Citizen Kane was a newly elected film, Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo. Two undeniably great motion pictures that have something in common, both of them were scored by Bernard Herrmann! Herrmann had worked with Welles in Radio back in NYC and went to Hollywood with his Mercurey Theater compatriots.

His first film score was Citizen Kane, his last was Taxi Driver, he died right after the Christmas Eve scoring session. The Taxi Driver score is one of the all time greats and it seemed Herrmann was heading into new uncharted waters with this score, if he had lived who knows what he would have come up with. The use of the harp and snare drum is so cool. I wonder if the snare was influenced by Gene Palma’s presence in the film, he is the Drummer Man, a fixture on midtown streets back in the 70’s, he’d call out the name of a jazz drummer “Louis Belson” and hit a representative lick.”Buddy Rich”, “Gene Krupa” one day his snare drum was stolen, he just played on a mailbox. NYC was full of characters back then.


But here listen to Herrmann’s theme from VERTIGO.


And here is the theme fromTAXI DRIVER.