Most people* seem to discount the idea that Bernard Herrmann’s score for Psycho is actually a near-perfect work for strings (given that it was written exclusively for strings anyway) and that, given the right setting, is a very listenable chamber piece that doesn’t need to reference the film. Here’s the Tippett Quartet performing this arrangement by Richard Birchall at Kings Place, 2011.
John Mills, Jeremy Isaac, Lydia Lowndes-Northcott, and Bozidar Vukotic: the London-based Tippett Quartet.
* Like Mister Grumble. This is the second-most heated debate** between us: whether or not movie music (for narrative films not musicals) can be considered truly concert-worthy.
** (The most heated debate between us is whether Oswald did it or not. This one gets us both really het up, as one of us has a slight connection with the actual case.)
The leader of the Tippitt Quartet (circa 2011), John Mills, is also the leader of The John Wilson Orchestra to date.
This is what the greatest film composer of the 20th century looks like conducting the London Symphony Orchestra in the Royal Albert Hall (2:24). From Alfred Hitchcock’s The Man Who Knew Too Much (Paramount, 1956). This is a chorale entitled “The Storm Clouds Cantata” arranged by Herrmann and composed by Australian Arthur Benjamin specifically for the movie.
Saw this first run in New York in 1976 with my boyfriend, another huge Brian De Palma fan. The loopiest, nuttiest romance in all of moviedom. In fact I like this movie better than Vertigo, another nutzoid Bernard Herrmann-scored love story: this one’s much more sexually transgressive, always a sure-fire turn-on for me.
Here’s the giddily overwrought ending. If you haven’t seen Obsession it’s not going to make any sense, so just close your eyes and listen to Herrmann’s ravishing score, the next-to-last one he ever wrote before his death at the age of 64.