“Beyond Psycho – The Musical Genius of Bernard Herrmann”
Everyone knows Bernard Herrmann as a supreme composer for film – but he was much more than that. PostClassical Ensemble’s documentary observes Herrmann “in the round.” Sampling our new PCE Naxos CD, it explores the classic 1944 radio drama Whitman, written by Norman Corwin with music by Herrmann. The other works here are Herrmann’s Clarinet Quintet and Psycho Narrative (not to be confused with the better-known, but inferior, Psycho Suite).
The film, with visual presentations by Peter Bogdanoff, features PCE conducted by Angel Gil-Ordóñez. Its producer, Joseph Horowitz, pronounces Herrmann “the most under-rated 20th century American composer.” The other participants are Dorothy Herrmann, Murray Horwitz on radio drama, clarinetist David Jones, Whitman scholar Karen Karbiener, critic Alex Ross, and baritone William Sharp.
Sharp (who plays Whitman in Whitman) says: “When I hear Whitman’s words illuminated by Herrmann’s music, I really find it quite overwhelming. It speaks to us today on so many levels – when you hear ‘The President and all the government are here for you, not the other way around.’ . . . It’s just incredibly beautiful. I think that for modern audiences and presenters, it could be a magically wonderful thing to hear, very different from what audiences expect.”
New Yorker music critic Alex Ross observes: “Bernard Herrmann was absolutely one of the most original 20th-century composers of any country. I’m very happy that this CD is expanding our sense of Herrmann’s achievement, bringing a little known score to light . . . What strikes me about this combination of Herrmann pieces is that the emotional range is huge. It’s a very great talent that’s on display here, one that we’re very far from appreciating and celebrating in full.”
November: Aaron Copland: American Populist
Our past projects:
At a moment when America’s performing arts institutions are challenged not merely to continue to function, but to function in new ways, PCE undertakes a series of films linked to zoom chats – “PostClassical: More than Music” — exploring the role of music in society.
This initiative comes easily to us, as our programming typically focuses on music as an instrument for mutual understanding and human betterment.
Our two most recent projects, before the virus changed everything, were An Armenian Odyssey, at the Washington National Cathedral, and Furtwangler in Wartime, via WWFM. The former explored the power of music to forge inspirational cultural synergies. The latter explored the power of music to “bear witness” during World War II.
We began our new “More than Music” films with Deep River: The Art of the Spiritual, in which we were joined by PCE Resident Artist Kevin Deas.
Future programs in this series will include “Dvorak and America,” for which we will be partnered by Howard University. The topics at hand are “What is the role of culture in a nation’s life?” and “Who is an American?”
We look forward to seeing you again. In the meantime, please be well.
Joe and Ángel
Produced by PostClassical Ensemble
in collaboration with David Osenberg for WWFM the Classical Network
Hosted by Bill McGlaughlin
With Joe Horowitz, Ángel Gil-Ordoñez, and special guests
Studio engineer: Bill Siegmund
Film and visual presentations: Behrouz Jamali