Just noticed that June 29 is the anniversary of Bernard Herrmann's birth in 1911. Next year, obviously, there should be major retrospectives of the composer's music -- the cinema scores, the concert works. And the opera. I'm glad to see that Herrmann's neglected "Wuthering Heights" will get a production next season from Minnesota Opera in observance of his centennial.
Most associated with Alfred Hitchcock films, Herrmann, who died in 1975, was a true genius in the highly specialized world of film scores. It's impossible to imagine the movies he scored for Hitchcock being as great without the musical soundtrack; Herrmann's scores were really as crucial to a film project as characters or plot.
Heck, his best scores became characters in the movie, nowhere more so than in "Vertigo," his most Wagnerian creation. I fondly remember doing a little "Vertigo" tour in San Francisco some years ago, checking out all the sites I could get to where the movie was made. The whole time, the rich music floated through my memory, especially when I walked around the Mission Dolores cemetery and Palace of the Legion of Honor, where indelible scenes were filmed.
I wish orchestras would embrace Herrmann's movie music in regular concerts, not just on Hollywood-theme pops nights. (The practice of playing live soundtracks, which the Baltimore Symphony did with "Psycho," for example, is a great way to honor the composer, too.) How cool it would be to sit in a concert hall and hear a great orchestra play the haunting themes from "Vertigo." . Here's an idea of what that can be like -- the "Scene d'amour," performed by the Los Angeles Philharmonic with Esa-Pekka Salonen conducting: