.For The Record Sunday. By Sam Smythe

Today we have a truly special treat, an article written about a composer, by my favorite composer and husband, Sam Smythe!

What’s playing on Stella Blue today?


Bernard Herrmann’s Music for Radio and Television with selections from The Walt Whitman Suite, Brave New World, Collector’s Item and The Landmark Theme.

This treasure, found deep in the stacks of Counterpoint, is itself almost a collector’s item featuring some of Herrmann’s rare and often forgotten works. Perhaps best known for his collaboration with Alfred Hitchcock, Bernard Herrmann began his career in the days of radio programs where stories came to life in the imagination of the listener. Before the shrieking shower scene music of Psycho, or the sweepingly chilling music of Vertigo Herrmann was guiding his audiences through worlds of science fiction and mystery on the CBS Radio Workshop.  While not a minimalist in the truest sense of the word, he certainly had gift for utilizing small amounts of musical material and reusing and modulating it through repetition that never leaves the listener wanting.

As a composer myself, I was excited to hear these works which were so reminiscent of Herrmann’s later scores. The opulent strings of Marnie, the ethereal vibraphones and bells of Fahrenheit 451, the dissonant arpeggios of Vertigo, the experimental electronic elements of The Day the Earth Stood Still and of course brooding woodwinds and muted horns can all be found in these selections.

Bernard Herrmann’s unique sound and genius musical vision makes him one of my all-time favorite composers and definitely worth a listen on this grey Sunday afternoon.


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