Top of the World: Celebrating Bernard Herrmann with 10 Wonderful Scores!


Yesterday, the famous movie music composer Bernard Herrmann would have been 106 years old. He did not only share his brilliance in his collaborations with Alfred Hitchcock, but in all the movie scores he composed. It’s for that reason that he is a favourite among many cinephiles. He certainly was among those movie composers who perfectly knew how to musically illustrate the atmosphere of a film.


I didn’t have time to “celebrate” him yesterday as I was working, but I thought I should honour him today with one of my traditional top lists! So, let me introduce you my 10 most favourite Bernard Herrmann scores! Of course, that was a most difficult exercise as he was a master of music. I had to change the order of my top many times.

Before continuing, remember that these are my personal favourite ones, so it’s purely subjective. You obviously can’t contest my personal tastes. 馃槈

Ok, here we go!

10. Psycho (Alfred Hitchcock, 1960)

Ah! How can we forget this haunting music regrouping strings only?! The shower scene is not the most “melodious” Bernard Hermann moment, but probably the one people will remember the most.

9. Citizen Kane (Orson Welles, 1941)

As much as I’m not THAT much a fan of this film (despite the fact that it is considered the best movie of all times and blablabla), there are TWO things that I love enormously about it, one of them being the music (the other one being Joseph Cotten). I love how it is at the time very sinister or very joyful. Typical Herrmann!


8.The Man Who Knew Too Much (Alfred Hitchcock, 1956)

My favourite Hitchcock’s film! And certainly one of my favourite Bernard Herrmann scores! It’s so orchestral, I love it! You unfortunately won’t hear it in this clip, but, during the film, there are some notes that remind us a lot of Vertigo‘s score that Herrmann will compose two years later. Of course, we all remember Herrmann’s cameo in the film! 馃檪


7. Marnie (Alfred Hitchcock, 1964)

Without being Hitchcock’s best film, one can’t deny that this is among Herrmann’s best scores! Actually, it might be the best thing about this film. I absolutely love it.


6. Vertigo (Alfred Hitchcock, 1958)

When those notes start, you know you are in for something special! Somehow, I can always see Carlotta Valdes’s portrait when I hear this music or the famous dream sequence. A team work between Hitchcock and Hermann always creates prodigies! Another film that is considered “the best of all times” and, once again, Bernard Herrmann had the chance to be part of the team!


5. North by Northwest (Alfred Hitchcock, 1959)

As far as I can remember, North by Northwest has always been one of my very favourite music scores. It succeeds to so perfectly capture the attention of the viewers. Once again, one can perfectly visualize the film in his/her head while listening to this GREAT score!


4. Jane Eyre (Robert Stevenson, 1944)

I must be honest, I didn’t become familiar with that score until… well today. The reason is that I’ve seen the movie only once and quite a long time ago, so let’s say the music was not necessarily fresh in my memory! But when I was re-listening to some of the Herrmann scores, I discovered how great it was! I just can’t believe I haven’t took the time to listen to it more carefully before. It’s just ace! Somehow, I can visualize the movie in my head when I listen to it. It truly makes me want to watch it again! 4m14 – 4m30: this moment is absolutely terrifying, but great!


3. The Day the Earth Stood Still (Robert Wise, 1951)

That is THE sound of science-fiction! My favourite sci-fi film and very probably my favourite music score for a sci-fi film. In this score, we can hear both acoustic and electronic instruments, including two Theremins, which create those typical sounds from outer space.


2. Obsession (Brian de Palma, 1976)

It goes without saying, I am obsessed with this film score (ouuuu!). It’s just spellbinding. I especially love the first minutes of it. I can always see the scene where Cliff Robertson throws the suitcase with the money on the street or that unforgettable final scene… For a movie that is very similar to Vertigo, Bernard Herrmann was of course the ultimate choice for the music!
















  1. Taxi Driver (Martin Scorsese, 1976)

Ah, the last and ultimate Bernard Herrman’s score! From Citizen Kane (his first movie music score) to Taxi Driver (his last), he proved to be an absolute musical master. Taxi Driver‘s music is so mesmerizing and fits perfectly the dark New-Yorkian atmosphere of the film. It sort of makes me want to take saxophone lessons!

Well, that’s it! I hope you enjoyed! Of course, don’t hesitate to share your personal favourites in the comment section!

Cheers to Herrmann!



Top of the World: My top 20 Favourite Movie Scores


My friend Carol from The Old Hollywood Garden just posted her top 10 favourite movie scores聽that you can read here. I thought it was a marvellous idea and I’ve decided to do the same. Of course ,I wasn’t able to stick only to 10, so decided to go with a top 20 instead. And well, it was about time for me to make 聽a new top on this blog. Wasn’t it? 馃槈 While I’m writing this, the beautiful Casablanca score is playing. 馃檪

So, here we go:

#1: Spellbound (Mikl贸s R贸zsa)聽

Just like Ingrid Bergman was, Spellbound score is completely fascinating. I could listen to it for hours. It’s so bewitching.聽Mikl贸s R贸zsa perfectly composed it and knew how to include it in聽the film. Together, the moving 聽images and the soundtrack create聽a wonderful choreography. I just love love love this score. It hypnotises me.

#2. How the West Was Won (Alfred Newman)

For a long time this was my favourite movie score (until I discover Spellbound‘s one). I think the perfect word to describe it would be “EPIC”. It kind of gives you strength when you listen to it.

#3. Sunset Boulevard (Franz Waxman)

When the film starts, you are immediately captivated by it and that’s because of the brilliant and thrilling score composed by Franz Waxman. It greatly reflects the tension in this film.

#4. Roman Holiday (George Auric)聽

This one is not often cited as a favourite, but you have to listen carefully to it to discover that it’s such a beautiful music. It sounds like it was composed for a fairy tale. Well, Roman Holiday is almost one, but still isn’t one. We can, for sure, perfectly associate it to Audrey Hepburn’s character: a princess.

#5. Lawrence of Arabia (Maurice Jarre)

Isn’t that one of the most well known movie score? First time I watched the film and heard that score, I immediately recognized it. When you hear it, you can imagine Lawrence of Arabia or blue-eyes Peter O’Toole cross the magnificent desert on his camel.

#6. Rebecca (Franz Waxman)

Rebecca’s聽score cleverly聽starts the film with those images of the growing vegetation around Manderley. We are then led to Joan Fontaine’s voice saying one of the most famous opening line “Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley Again” (Daphn茅 Du Maurier).

#7. The Inn of the Sixth Happiness (Malcolm Arnold)

This glorious score is one of the many reasons why this film is so powerful. It makes a perfect team with Ingrid Bergman’s performance and 聽 makes us appreciate how great orchestral music is.

#8. Casablanca (Max Steiner)

Well, looks like Ingrid Bergman knew how to be part of movies with great music! Did she inspire the composers? Max Steiner composed a magnificent score, mixing it with La Marseillaise. And how can we forget that tune, “As Time Goes By”?

#9. Ben Hur (Mikl贸s R贸zsa)

That is another EPIC score for sure. I think it reflects perfectly the era聽in which the film takes place, the Roman Empire. It’s the perfect score for this type of film.

#10. Schindler’s List (John Williams)

John Williams most well-known collaboration with Steven Spielberg is certainly “Jaws”, but Schindler’s List score is by far聽the most touching one. This sad and poetic music illustrates perfectly the mood of the film, just like its quality.

#11. Taxi Driver (Bernard Hermann)

Bernard Hermann was well-known for its several collaborations with Alfred Hitchcock, but we have to admit that his Taxi Driver‘s score is one of his聽best. Sadly, it was his last one, but it ended 聽his聽career in an unforgettable way. I adore the opening titles of this film; when we see the cab coming out of the smoke and the music starts. A unique moment.

#12. How to Steal a Million (John Williams)

John Williams before Steven Spielberg. The film was released in 1966 and its certainly not this one that makes John Williams a star, but we have the right to enjoy it. This enchanted music remains the work of a genius.

#13. Les Vacances de Monsieur Hulot (Alain Roman)

What I like about this score is that it’s so relaxing. It makes you think of summer vacations. It makes you want to be on the beach, swimming, or doing nothing. Well, I think that was the objective. The music in this film plays a great role. It marks the beginning of the days and it seems to be the only music that exist in this world.

#14. Rain Man (Hans Zimmer)

Well, my list wouldn’t be one without a Hans Zimmer’s score. In my opinion, he is one of the most brilliant contemporary movie composers. I don’t know what I like specifically about this score. It’s kind of bewitching聽I guess. I also love the film 聽as well and when I listen to this score, I always say to myself “Why am I not the one who directed this film?”

# 15. The Third Man (Anton Karas)

What I like about this score is that it doesn’t sound like it was composed for a film. There’s also something very “modern” about it. It adds a great dimension to聽The Third Man.

#16. North by Northwest (Bernard Hermann)

Now, this wouldn’t be a 聽top of mine without a Hitchcock-Hermann collaboration. North by Northwest score was once my favourite one, that’s why it’s my choice. Well, also because it’s a truly great score!

#17. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (Enio Morricone)

Ok, let’s all whistle together! 馃榾 Once we’ve heard this score, we can’t forget it. I remember there was a time I was ALWAYS listening to it.


#18. The Devil’s Brigade (Alex North)

Just like the film is not very famous, it’s not Alex North’s most famous score either, but it remains a clever one. Here, we dive聽in a聽more聽military music. This moment when the Canadian arrives, marching聽on this music is simply the best part of the film.

#19. Airport (Alfred Newman)

Alfred Newman started his career in film in 1930 and 40 years later he was still able to prove us that he still was an excellent movie composer with Airport. Sadly, it was his last movie score, but one we can’t forget.

#20. Gone With the Wind (Max Steiner)

Gone With the Wind‘s beautiful score brings us into the world of Scarlett O’Hara. When you listen to it, it gives you chills, but makes you feel good and strong at the same time.

Well, that’s it. I’d be curious to know your choices!

You know, listening to those marvellous scores just makes me want to WATCH FILMS! That’s what I’m about to do now.