Bernard Herrmann

Great Film Music

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This CD contains five seminal film scores, played by the National Philharmonic Orchestra and conducted by the composer. For Journey to the Center of the Earth (1959) Herrmann evoked "the mood ... of inner Earth by using only instruments played in low registers": winds, including the Renaissance serpent, brass, percussion, many harps, one Cathedral organ and four electronic organs "to suggest ascent and descent, as well as the mystery of Atlantis." Many of the thrilling sounds are prophetic of later new music styles. The ending is a horrifying, steadily ascending mass of sound, leading to bright chords which signal freedom. The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad (1958) is for conventional orchestra, although several xylophones are employed for the skeletons. Only seven of the cues from The Day The Earth Stood Still (1950) are performed here, but they are the main ones, with theremins and other electronics. Truffaut's Fahrenheit 451 (1966) was scripted from Ray Bradbury's 1953 novel about a future in which books are burned (books catch fire at 451 degrees Fahrenheit). Meanwhile, each "book person" secretly commits to memory one classic. The mysterious Prelude has the composer's signature stereo harp arpeggios plus glockenspiel and high strings. Fire Engine is a march, "aimless music for an aimless life." One fireman, Montag, falls in love with a reader as we hear the lovely rubato waltz The Bedroom. The film ends with a bi-tonal single chord hanging in the air suggesting an uncertain future. Gulliver's Travels (1961) is an orchestral suite from Harryhausen and Schneer's The Three Worlds of Gulliver. For the three worlds (veiled satires on English social classes), Herrmann created (1) a large orchestra which depicts (tongue in cheek) eighteenth-century pomp and circumstance, (2) a minature world of music-box-like harps and celeste, and (3) a giants' world with low tubas and winds.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
Journey to the Centre of the Earth, film score
1 2:13
2 2:05
3 1:03
4 2:45
5 2:53
6 2:02
7 2:02
Seventh Voyage of Sinbad, film score
8 2:14
9 2:13
10 4:00
The Day the Earth Stood Still, film score
11 1:58
12 2:23
13 0:42
14 1:55
15 1:18
16 1:58
17 1:27
Fahrenheit 451, film score
18 1:39
19 1:17
20 1:50
21 1:53
22 4:06
The Three Worlds of Gulliver, film score
23 2:26
24 2:02
25 1:19
26 3:21
27 1:27
28 0:39
29 2:00
30 2:24
31 3:02
32 2:54
33 1:25
34 1:48
35 1:05
blue highlight denotes track pick