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A Heart at Fire's Center: The Life and Music of Bernard Herrmann Paperback – 31 May 2002
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"Smith catches what many of us felt in those days, that Welles and Herrmann and colleagues seemed en route to the moon, bright spirits of a worried yet fervid decade. Smith then goes on to take us into every nook of Herrmann's career and many crannies of his private life."--Stanley Kauffmann, "The New Republic
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, Francois 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Smith explores the interrelationships between Herrmann's music and his turbulent personal life, using much previously unpublished information to illustrate Herrmann's often outrageous behavior, his working methods, and why his music has had such lasting impact.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 of 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 Smith separates myth from fact and draws upon heretofore unpublished material to illuminate Herrmann's life and influence.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. See all Product description
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Smith does an outstanding job of presenting Herrmann's life and times and music. Herrmann's acerbic, oft-times mercuric temperment would suffer no fools. His gift for remarkable orchestration, as one reviewer put it, would make reading a phone book sound great. Herrmann's as composer and conductor spanned radio presentations, concert halls, opera, classical music and the cinema.
Quite simply, Smith's biography of Herrmann a must-read for anyone interested in film scores, behind-the-scenes film-making, brilliant music and the genius that was Bernard Herrmann.
Author Smith has compiled a fascinating look at Herrmann, exposing the man's genius that went hand-and-hand with his tempetuosity. The book also reveals how Herrmann suited his music for the characters that were to be seen onscreen, crafting each note to the storyline and the director's wishes.
"A Heart at Fire's Center" is a must-read for those that admire the man, as well as for those that have an interest in the nuances and mandates of scoring for the movies.