Bernard Herrmann

Wuthering Heights

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Written between 1943 and 1951, this opera in four acts shows that Herrmann used similar techniques in his music for the concert stage as in his scores for film (although the melodic ideas tend to be longer in his concert music). In fact, several of the musical ideas in the opera were also used in his 1944 score for the movie Jane Eyre. Similar to the music for opening credits in films, the "Prologue" of this neo-romantic style opera introduces three principal motifs (cells): (1) a mourning, sighing phrase (after a tympani and brass intro) played by the woodwinds associated with both "the tragedy and the restless spirit of Cathy"(Hermann); (2) a phrase on cellos and basses associated with the place Wuthering Heights; and (3) a clarinet phrase associated with Cathy. "The formal design of the opera may be said to be that of a great circle, for the music of the prologue and that of the epilogue is the same. Both depict the 20-year vigil of Heathcliff" (Herrmann). The vocal lines are guided by the pace and elaborate language of Lucille Fletcher's libretto based directly on lines from Emily Brontë's famous novel, nevertheless the prose-style vocal music never lapses into traditional recitative but successfully maintains a "heightened form of lyrical speech" (Herrmann).

Track Listing - Disc 1

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
Wuthering Heights, opera
1 2:55
2 2:34
3 1:38
4 4:13
5 7:30
6 1:19
7 2:21
8 8:14
9 5:40
10 2:51
11 2:46
12 3:04
13 3:46
14 2:06
15 6:01
16 3:33
17 5:48
18 2:05
blue highlight denotes track pick