This article is a profile on Bernard Herrmann by a fellow staff
member at CBS. It appeared in the November 9, 1943 issue of the
CBS in-house newsletter called
"485" (named after CBS's old address, 485 Madison Avenue).
The Article was located at the New York Library of the Performing Arts.
Special thanks to Bob Kosovsky.
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BERNARD HERRMANN, A CBS INSTITUTION
by Morris Hastings
In expansive moments, Bernard Herrmann, newly appointed symphonic conductor
of CBS, will admit that he can't decide which is really greater, music or
literature. However that may be, Bennie has a knowledge of both that verges
on the encyclopedic.
In the ten years he's been with CBS, Bennie has done a lot of rummaging
about in the obscure corners of music, rescuing here a forgotten overture by
the novelist Samuel Butler and there capturing some notable work by a
little-known English composer.
As for books, there are people who have abandoned the idea of ever finding
one Bennie hasn't read. Twirling his hair furiously the while, Bennie can -
and does at the slightest provocation - deliver dissertations, complete with
quotations, on the works of Trollope, Shaw, Lefanu, the Sitwells, Virginia
Woolf, Shakespeare, Dickens, Graham Greene, or almost any other English
author you can think of.
He also finds time - no one quite knows how - to compose. In fact, his
First Symphony and his dramatic cantata, "Moby Dick," based on the Melville
novel, have been performed by the New york Philharmonic-Symphony. He goes
out to Hollywood every once in a while to write movie scores. He wrote the
music for his friend Orson Welles' "Citizen Kane" and the recently completed
"Jane Eyre." His score for "All That Money Can Buy" won a Film Academy
Award several seasons ago. A suite arranged from music for that film will
be played by the Philadelphia Orchestra, under the direction of Eugene
Ormandy, late this month.
Bennie was also one of the ten young creative artists to receive a $1,000
grant two years ago from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the
National Institute of Arts and Letters.
He is particularly interested in English music, so much so in fact that one
irreverent friend asked if he was working for a knighthood. The truth of
the matter is that Bennie feels a sincere affinity for English art. He
numbers among his valued acquaintances such British musical figures as Sir
Arnold Bax, Cecil Gray, William Walton, and John Barbirolli.
Bennie's wife, who deserves a more extended mention in "485," is the former
Lucille Fletcher, for many years a member of CBS Press Information. Quiet,
attractive, possessor of a wonderful sense of humor, Lucille is the author
of the now famous fantasy, "My Client Curly." She also has caused the
nation's hair to stand on end with a number of "Suspense" programs. The
Herrmanns have a daughter, Dorothy, who is now a little more than two and
reported to combine the best qualities of father and mother.
The Herrmann's have a fine collection of 18th century furniture and art.
But Bennie's most cherished possession is a battered old hat on which his
wife sews a theme from each of his compositions.
Bennie almost became a movie actor the last time he was in Hollywood. One
producer was planning a sequence for a picture in which Shostakovich would
be shown composing his Seventh Symphony and Bennie was picked as a candidate
to portray the Soviet composer. Bennie declined. "I won't be a cut-rate
Shostakovich," he said.
The Bernard Herrmann Society, 1999.|
All rights reserved.