Call for Essays About Any Aspect of Popular Culture, Present or Past

Christopher O'Riley Performs Bernard Herrmann's Prelude to 'Psycho'

Bookmark and Share
Text:AAA
Monday, Mar 5, 2012
by Christopher O'Riley
Classical pianist and composer Christopher O'Riley curates Mixed Media selecting favorites of his work and others.

2011 marked the 100th Anniversary of the birth of film composer, Bernard Herrmann, known for his iconic musical (and pure music concrete in the case of Hitchcock’s The Birds) landscapes/backdrops for films like Citizen Kane, Cape Fear, Taxi Driver (his last) and memorable and numerous Alfred Hitchcock works. Psycho has long been a favorite film of mine, and Herrmann’s score is perhaps more indelibly inscribed on my memory than even the violently etched black-and-white images Hitchcock created.
  
In scoring Psycho for strings-only, Herrmann mentioned the intent on keeping a ‘black-and-white’ texture in the spareness of his chosen ensemble. In transcribing a 20-minute suite of pieces for piano, I chose the ebony-and-ivory continuation of that thought. In music so rich, it is astonishing, when putting the notes down on the keyboard, to find the musical materials of Herrmann’s work so bare-motivic, archetypal, and ultimately economic. Though I haven’t yet recorded the sequence commercially, it’s become a staple of my concert repertory especially in this, the Herrmann Centenary. This live performance was captured at a live taping of my NPR radio program, From the Top, hosted by the EG Conference last spring in Monterey, and shot and edited expertly by Reid Mangan.


Related Articles
By PopMatters Staff
31 Jan 2013
From classics to contemporary television, the typical titles and the surprising outsider choices, the year in home video was just as divisive, and delightful, as the rest of our meaningful media.
29 Oct 2012
There was a time when Alfred Hitchcock was considered a mere populist entertainer. Like Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton and others before him, his early work didn’t click with intellectual minds -- they found nothing to praise in his lurid stories of murder, mystery and shocks.
By Christopher O'Riley
5 Mar 2012
Classical pianist and composer Christopher O'Riley curates Mixed Media selecting favorites of his work and others.
By Christopher O'Riley
2 Mar 2012
Classical pianist and composer Christopher O'Riley curates Mixed Media selecting favorites of his work and others.
Comments
Now on PopMatters
PM Picks
Announcements
PopMatters' LUCY Giveaway! in PopMatters's Hangs on LockerDome

© 1999-2014 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters.com™ and PopMatters™ are trademarks
of PopMatters Media, Inc.

PopMatters is wholly independently owned and operated.