A grateful nod to Bernard Herrmann and his Wagnerian 'Vertigo' score
Just noticed that June 29 is the anniversary of Bernard Herrmann's birth in 1911. Next year, obviously, there should be major retrospectives of the composer's music -- the cinema scores, the concert works. And the opera. I'm glad to see that Herrmann's neglected "Wuthering Heights" will get a production next season from Minnesota Opera in observance of his centennial.
Most associated with Alfred Hitchcock films, Herrmann, who died in 1975, was a true genius in the highly specialized world of film scores. It's impossible to imagine the movies he scored for Hitchcock being as great without the musical soundtrack; Herrmann's scores were really as crucial to a film project as characters or plot.
Heck, his best scores became characters in the movie, nowhere more so than in "Vertigo," his most Wagnerian creation. I fondly remember doing a little "Vertigo" tour in San Francisco some years ago, checking out all the sites I could get to where the movie was made. The whole time, the rich music floated through my memory, especially when I walked around the Mission Dolores cemetery and Palace of the Legion of Honor, where indelible scenes were filmed.
I wish orchestras would embrace Herrmann's movie music in regular concerts, not just on Hollywood-theme pops nights. (The practice of playing live soundtracks, which the Baltimore Symphony did with "Psycho," for example, is a great way to honor the composer, too.) How cool it would be to sit in a concert hall and hear a great orchestra play the haunting themes from "Vertigo." . Here's an idea of what that can be like -- the "Scene d'amour," performed by the Los Angeles Philharmonic with Esa-Pekka Salonen conducting: