Thursday, September 3, 2009

A Symbiosis Formed by Two Composers Born a Generation Apart

Bernard Herrmann was born in 1911, Stephen Sondheim in 1930; both in New York.
History knows both of these men well; Hermann as one of Film's great composers, and Sondheim as one of Broadway's legends.
Hermann is well-remembered for his scores in such classics as Psycho, Vertigo, North by Northwest, Citizen Kane (cited by many as the greatest film yet made), Taxi Driver, The Magnificent Ambersons; and other films, many in association with the fabled Alfred Hitchcock.
Sondheim is still among us and is revered by thousands as the composer of the music for such Broadway classics as A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, A Little Night Music, Sweeney Todd, and others, not to mention his writing the lyrics for Bernstein's West Side Story.
And with all of this notoriety, a little known event bound these two giants together:
When Sondheim was a teenager, about fifteen years of age, he went to see a movie titled Hangover Square, released, I think, circa 1945.
The young man was fascinated by the musical score, which contained a one - movement piece called Concerto Macabre. He went back once again to see this movie, as the music compelled him to do so - a young Bernard Herrmann had written this music as one of his earlier endeavors in movie music.
Sondheim relates to us that the tension and color endemic to the music in this lesser known horror movie remained with him, and this aspect is best represented in his horror classic Sweeney Todd, which he states was influenced by Herrman's incarnation in Hangover Square.
And so; two composers, born a generation apart, never in view of one another, united to form a kind of commonality in the horror genre which helped to create one of Broadway's modern classics.



Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home