Oh, the irony. Composer Bernard Herrmann’s career goal was to conduct legitimate symphony orchestras and, decades after his death, one of the great symphony orchestras is devoting an entire concert to his film music. That’s Herrmann himself appearing in cameo as the conductor in Alfred Hitchcock’s “The Man Who Knew Too Much,” his only onscreen appearance across a film career that completely redefined the relationship of image and music. How important was Herrmann’s music to the vintage Hitchcock films? So much so that Hitchcock became threatened enough by Herrmann’s contributions (watch the shower scene from “Psycho” with the sound off, which was how Hitch thought it should go, and then with Herrmann’s music, to judge for yourself) that he fired Herrmann from “Torn Curtain” mid-film in 1966, in the middle of a recording session, due to studio pressure that Hitch should use more “contemporary” music. The irony, as Herrmann’s jazzy score for Martin Scorsese’s 1976 “Taxi Driver,” Herrmann’s last score, would show, Herrmann was an aural chameleon who could do whatever was needed to evoke the perfect mood for a film. Think of all of those science-fiction scores that he did for films such as “The Day the Earth Stood Still,” complete with the first Hollywood use of the electronic theremin, or the electronic organ and low winds in “Journey to the Center of the Earth.” From the moment that Herrmann’s score for Orson Welles’ 1941 “Citizen Kane” took flight, film music was the never the same. Key scenes from “Kane,” Hitch’s “North by Northwest,” “Psycho,” “The Trouble With Harry” and “Vertigo” along with Francois Truffaut’s “Farenheit 451” will be screened with live music conducted by Joel McNeely while the Greg Cohen Quartet, featuring Cohen on bass along with pianist Rob Berger, percussionist Erik Charlston, saxophonist Marty Ehrlich and guitarist Bill Frisell, will perform Herrmann’s score for “Taxi Driver” along with the American premiere of “Nightmare Romance: Bernard Herrmann and Alfred Hitchcock.” (Dennis Polkow)
Friday, April 4 at 8pm, Orchestra Hall at Symphony Center, 220 S. Michigan, (312)294-3000. $32-$113.