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.