Music and cinema go hand in hand, however do we truly appreciate the power of music in film, and the ability it has to heighten the viewers emotions? We hear foreboding music and we feel fear, a slow forlorn piece concocts sadness, and an upbeat melody ensures elation. Music and film are beautiful in their own right, however together they can create pure perfection.
Whilst most people have heard of acclaimed director Alfred Hitchcock and no doubt seen his work, fewer viewers would recognise the name Bernard Hermann, a man who created beautiful cinematic scores. The two had a partnership that spanned over a decade and resulted in some of the most memorable scenes in cinema. It was this famous partnership that inspired Melbourne’s Art Centre’s performance of Hitchcock & Hermann, a mix of visuals and music that depicted some of the duos most famous collaborative scenes. With music performed by The Melbourne Symphony Orchestra we were excited to experience a cinematic experience where the score was the main focus and the visuals were secondary.
Patrons took their seats as the orchestra warmed up their instruments with the familiar hum of bow on strings. Our presenter for the evening Phillip Sametz came out and introduced the piece, giving us some interesting background information on both men. All was silent in the theatre as conductor Benjamin Northey raised his hands and the musicians launched into the action, filling the theatre with beautiful melodies. As scenes from Alfred Hitchcock’s movies played in the background, it become apparent just how incredible the partnership was between Hitchcock and Hermann. We later learned in the show that Hitchcock would often request a certain score from Hermann who ignoring Hitchcock’s requests would come up with his own ideas, which Hitchcock later would come to love.
A prime example of this is the shower scene from the movie Psycho. Hitchcock initially wanted complete silence and Hermann disagreed. They end up compromising and using the high pitch sound that today is one of the most famous music scores in film history.
The Melbourne Symphony Orchestra performed music from the films The Man Who Knew Too Much, North By Northwest, The Trouble With Harry, Vertigo, and Psycho. Every time I am lucky enough to see them perform they seem to get better. They truly are a world class ensemble who can tackle any classical score with ease. A highlight was when a large choir joined the orchestra on stage. Together they sang along in unison in time with the choir singing on the screen. In the particular scene that was being projected, Hermann himself was conducting a large orchestra, and our conductor extraordinaire Benjamin Northey was emulating his movements. It was a grand finale indeed!
I thoroughly enjoyed taking more of an in depth look at the music side of film, and focusing on the emotions certain scores evoke in audiences. The Orchestra was phenomenal as usual and our presenter for the evening was jubilant and informative. A great insight into a partnership that truly evolved the relationship between screen and score.
The reviewer attended the show on February 6th. For more information on the show head here.