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American Record Guide (2000) - Sounding the Unconscious: Hitchcock's Film Music Probed the Psyche




Asserts that music was an essential element in the films of Alfred Hitchcock, who recognized even in the early 1930s the potential for a musical score to enhance or hamper the effect of a film on its audience. Stresses that Hitchcock worked with the finest film composers of his era, including Waxman, Rosza, and many others including perhaps his most important collaborator Bernard Herrmann. Remarks on the range of musical styles in Hitchcock films ranging from rich romanticism to dissonant expressionism. Mentions a new recording from Marco Polo featuring Franz Waxman's soundtrack for "Rebecca," one of the first great scores for a Hitchcock film.


From the voluptuousness of Rebecca to the exuberance of North By Northwest, music has been a central element in the films of Alfred Hitchcock. His ear as exacting as his famous eye, Hitchcock created a musical language of mood and movement that changed the course of film music. He used the best movie composers of his various eras: Franz Waxman, Miklos Rosza, Eric Fenby, Alfred Newman, Richard Addinsell, Hugo W Friedhofer, Dimitri Tiomkin, Maurice Jarre, John Williams, and his most celebrated musical collaborator, Bernard Herrmann.

Only recently, in a Hitchcock centennial celebration at NYU, and in a recent spate of CDs, has the importance of music in Hitchcock begun to be acknowledged. [For a review of these, see Collections.] Yet Hitchcock often chose his music as carefully as his cast and camera set-ups. Even before Erich Korngold, he compared film to opera. Through intricate collaborations and conflicts with composers, he gave each of his films a distinctive sound seamlessly meshed with imagery and dialog.

Even when a score is minimal or nonexistent-as in the awesome quiet of The Birds or the party chatter of Rope-the carefully orchestrated soundtrack has source music and "real" noise that the audience experiences in a profoundly musical way. In the early 30s, Hitchcock spoke of music as a revolutionary medium with the potential to destroy or enhance a film, a counterpoint to the power of silence. For Hitchcock, music was a way...

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