The 30 minute series,
Alfred Hitchcock Presents,
premiered in the Fall of 1955.
At the time very few TV series had original dramatic scores. The series used
"stock" music entirely. In the Fall of 1962 the episodes were expanded to an
hour, and the title of the series was changed to
The Alfred Hitchcock Hour.
The series retained its familiar theme music, "Funeral March of a Marionette"
by Gounod, but Lyn Murray (who had scored Hitchcock's
To Catch a Thief)
was engaged to write some original for some of the episodes. Throughout the
series music from Murray's scores and later Herrmann's scores were re-cycled
so that only about 1/3 of the episodes had original music.
The first Herrmann scored episode,
A Home Away from Home, opened the second
season of the hour series in the Fall of 1963. Herrmann also re-arranged the
theme for creepy bassoons, and his version was used for the rest of the
Herrmann's last episode, Death Scene, was aired in March 1965. Herrmann
also scored Hitchcock's
during this period, and perhaps some episodes
The Twilight Zone.
Aside from introducing the programs, Hitchcock had
relatively little to do with the TV series, so Herrmann's music should
probably not be considered part of the Hitchcock/Herrmann collaboration.
Many of the series episodes, especially during the first season, were
straight-forward murder mysteries, often with an unexpected "twist" ending.
During the second season, fantasy elements and macabre humor were introduced,
perhaps due to the influence of Thriller, an out-and-out horror series.
Herrmann got the majority of the genre episodes (some stories by Ray Bradbury,
Robert Bloch, and John Wyndham).
The music scores were chamber sized, employing fewer instruments than film
scores, but utilizing typical Herrmann effects, such as muted trumpets and
harps. Terror In Northfield features some morbid and chilling bassoons.
Nothing Ever Happens In Linvale, basically a comedy,
resembles Herrmann's score for
The Trouble with Harry.
The McGregor Affair, a macabre comedy,
set in Scotland takes on a distinct Scot flavor.
The Life Work of Juaz Diaz
uses the habanera, as in
nightmare sequence. The Jar, the one
episode everyone my age remembers, uses a circus caliope, alternating a grim
merry-go-round tune with "Dies Irae," as people contemplated what was in the
Each episode had a theme or motif which formed the basis of the score.
Sometimes the music seems dubbed a little carelessly, often a little too loud,
but a Herrmann score is hard to ignore. Much of the scoring episodic TV has
always been repetitious, but the anthology series provided a different
characters and situations each week, so that the original scores really were
original each week. These programs may have lost a little of their punch over
the last 30 years, but I find many of them still enjoyable and unpredictable.
The hour series has not yet appeared on home video, but the series is still
available to local stations in the U.S.A.
Copyright © by Tom DeMary / The Bernard Herrmann Society.|
Stills copyright © 1963 by MCA/Universal.
All rights reserved.