Bernard Herrmann was born in 1911 to immigrant parents. As a child, he showed a profound interest in music and sought to become a classical composer. However, his lackluster performance in school, coupled with his impatience to satisfy his ambition, led him to work in radio. His associations with other up-and-coming musicians/artists made it possible for him to gain employment at CBS wherein he served as head conductor for the CBS Orchestra. Because of the work he composed during his tenure there, Hollywood beckoned and Herrmann did his first score for Orson Welles's "Citizen Kane."
Following the success of the music for the classic film, the composer was sought for other film work, having to jockey between his CBS responsibilities, his desire to craft an original opera based on Bronte's "Wuthering Heights," and his marriage. Also, his volatile temper did not help in his relationships with peers, as well as his marital situation.
During the late 1940's to the early 60's, Herrmann had his greatest output of movie scores, composing some of that time period's most memorable and innovative scores, starting with his work at 20th-Century Fox ("The Ghost and Mrs. Muir," "Anna and the King of Siam," and "The Snows of Kilamanjaro") to works for Hitchcock ("The Trouble with Harry," "The Man Who Knew Too Much," "Psycho," "North by Northwest," and "Marnie"), fantasy creator Ray Harryhausen ("The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad," "The Three World's of Gulliver," "Mysterious Island," and "Jason and the Argonauts"), and French director Francois Truffaut (Ray Bradbury's "Fahrenheit 451"). Although Herrmann never won an Oscar, he was nominated several times, receiving a posthumous nod for Martin Scorcese's "Taxi Driver" in 1976.
This report prepared by Reginald D. Garrard