Heart at Fire's Center: The Life and Music of Bernard Herrmann

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University of California Press, May 1, 2002 - 429 pages
4 Reviews
No composer contributed more to film than Bernard Herrmann, who in over 40 scores enriched the work of such directors as Orson Welles, Alfred Hitchcock, Fran ois Truffaut, and Martin Scorsese. In this first major biography of the composer, Steven C. Smith explores the interrelationships between Herrmann's music and his turbulent personal life, using much previously unpublished information to illustrate Herrmann's often outrageous behavior, his working methods, and why his music has had such lasting impact. From his first film ("Citizen Kane") to his last ("Taxi Driver"), Herrmann was a master of evoking psychological nuance and dramatic tension through music, often using unheard-of instrumental combinations to suit the dramatic needs of a film. His scores are among the most distinguished ever written, ranging from the fantastic ("Fahrenheit 451," "The Day the Earth Stood Still") to the romantic ("Obsession," "The Ghost and Mrs. Muir") to the terrifying ("Psycho"). Film was not the only medium in which Herrmann made a powerful mark. His radio broadcasts included Orson Welles's Mercury Theatre on the Air and "The War of the Worlds." His concert music was commissioned and performed by the New York Philharmonic, and he was chief conductor of the CBS Symphony. Almost as celebrated as these achievements are the enduring legends of Herrmann's combativeness and volatility. Smith separates myth from fact and draws upon heretofore unpublished material to illuminate Herrmann's life and influence. Herrmann remains as complex as any character in the films he scored a creative genius, an indefatigable musicologist, an explosive bully, a generous and compassionate man who desperately sought friendship and love. Films scored by Bernard Herrmann: "Citizen Kane, The Ghost and Mrs. Muir, Vertigo, Psycho, Fahrenheit 451, Taxi Driver, The Magnificent Ambersons, The Man Who Knew Too Much, North By Northwest, The Birds, The Snows of Kilimanjaro, Cape Fear, Marnie, Torn Curtain, " among others
 

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - Jamie638 - LibraryThing

This is an excellent biography of a multitalented man who is best known as a film music composer. He also wrote serious music and was the conductor of the CBS symphony orchestra for many years. He ... Read full review

Review: A Heart at Fire's Center: The Life and Music of Bernard Herrmann

User Review  - Steven - Goodreads

Bernard Herrmann was the first film composer I came to know by name, simply because the moody power of his music demanded attention even as it served the needs of the movie it supported. Some of ... Read full review

Contents

Prelude
1
New York 19111951
5
ONE
7
TWO
21
THREE
42
FOUR
59
FIVE
71
SIX
85
TWELVE
236
THIRTEEN
267
FOURTEEN
292
London 19711975
309
FIFTEEN
311
SIXTEEN
319
SEVENTEEN
336
Postlude
357

SEVEN
110
EIGHT
131
Hollywood 19511971
162
NINE
163
TEN
191
ELEVEN
219
The Music of Bernard Herrmann
365
Notes
377
Selected Bibliography
401
Index
405
Copyright

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Page v - Near the snow, near the sun, in the highest fields See how these names are feted by the waving grass And by the streamers of white cloud And whispers of wind in the listening sky. The names of those who in their lives fought for life, Who wore at their hearts the fire's centre. Born of the sun they travelled a short while towards the sun, And left the vivid air signed with their honour.

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About the author (2002)

I was raised in the Northern California town of Chico. I am the oldest of four boys raised in an intact two parent home. My youth was fairly typical except for my twisted sense of humor and inability to stay out of trouble. I have been married for the past 26 years to a wonderful patient wife, Mary Ellen who is a Drug and Alcohol counselor. I have two sons from my first marriage. I work as a gastroenterology technologist at a local medical center and play drums Throughout Northern California both in the recording studio and on stage with local musicians. I live a charmed life and feel blessed beyond measure.

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