Monahan, Mark. "Music that makes a man a killer" The Daily Telegraph 1 July 2006. 1 December 2008.
In this article Mark Monahan pays homage to Bernard Herrmann, without whose contributions Monahan feels cinema would be unimaginable. Born in New York to Russian Jewish Immigrants, Herrmann studied at NYU and made his conducting debut on Broadway at only 20 years old. In 1934 he began composing and conducting for CBS radio where he met Orson Welles who helped launch his career as a musical score artist in 1941 with Citizen Kane. Hermann has a wide range of film credits including The Magnificent Ambersons, Cape Fear, Jason and the Argonauts. After working on Kane, Herrmann worked on Hangover Square (1941), The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951), and On Dangerous Ground (1952), before teaming up with Alfred Hitchcock, creating what Monahan calls “one of the most fruitful collaborations in the history of cinema”. One of Herrmann’s most famous musical scores is the one he created for Psycho, where employed a strings-only orchestra and solidified his legacy with the powerful and unforgettable musical shrieks of the shower scene. In 1966 Herrmann and Hitchcock parted ways after a disagreeing over the musical score for Hitchock’s next project, and their collaboration ended. After that Herrmann worked in both the French and American new waves, and ended his career in 1976 with Martin Scorsase’s Taxi Driver (1976).
The musical score is an integral part of any film. Just as editing guides the viewer’s attention, the musical score sets the tone of a scene or sequence and gives the audience privileged access to the narrative based on the musical foreshadowing. In this article Monahan recognizes the power and brilliance behind Herrmann’s scores, as they not only complement the action but also are the action, and allow the viewer entry and insight into the inner lives of the characters. Herrmann’s scores permeate characters psyches and surroundings, and as Monahan points out, when combined with Kane’s images, the effect is nothing short of brilliant. The opening scene, which Monahan discusses, is perhaps where Herrmann’s score is most powerful, as it works in conjunction with Welles’s visuals and sets up the film’s themes of Rosebud (and loss of innocence) and ambition (Kane’s ultimate downfall). Herrmann uses these concepts and creates leitmotifs, which are heard throughout the film. In the opening sequence for example, as the camera ascends upon Xanadu, Kane’s estate, Herrmann uses low brass and woodwind to create an effect that is both eerie and ominous, giving insight into the private life behind Kane’s sacred fortress and setting up the film’s musical theme. Herrmann’s powerful score is one of the most psychologically defining aspects of the film and constitutes a powerful and lends support to its claim as one of the greatest films of all time.