Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Los Angeles Philharmonic Performs Bernard Herrmann...

James Stewart and Kim Novak in Vertigo
While perusing YouTube the other night I happened on the video below of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Esa-Pekka Salonen, performing Bernard Herrmann's "Scene d'Amour" from his score for Alfred Hitchcock's Vertigo. I watched and listened several times, swept up in it...and then, afterward, remembered something I'd nearly forgotten...

900 Lombard, San Francisco, today
Just about a year ago a videographer friend and I toured and shot footage of San Francisco film locations. I later recorded a voice track and hoped to post the video online, but had problems uploading it. Naturally, we got footage of Vertigo sites (the film includes many locations in the city) and I also took some still photos of 900 Lombard St., "Scottie Ferguson's" apartment in North Beach. The building had changed so little in the 50+ years since the movie was made that I almost expected a vintage green Jaguar to pull up and an elegant, ethereal blonde to slide out...


  1. That was so beautiful to hear and watch the L.A. Philharmonic perform "scene d'amour". I've always thought that Hermann's score for "Vertigo" was one of the most memorable and evocative ever. This music absolutely captures the longing and the emotional conflict, the mysticism and the romance of this intensely personal film. I can see that powerful wave crash off the pacific (i:50 min) just as Stewart and Kim Novak consumate their first kiss. This is timeless music for a timeless film. The music does conjur that "elegant, ethereal blonde" of a mystery woman who seems to embody for Hitchcock all that is desireable and forever out of reach. Kim Novak's character is half artistic muse - a source of inspiration - and half deadly siren drawing "Scottie" to destruction. Hitchcock exposed a lot of himself in "Vertigo" and expressed, I think, the obsession that was an undeniable aspect of his genius. I can't imagine anyone composing a more appropriate and inspired score for "Vertigo" than Bernard Hermann. This movie goes out into deep waters and the score is like the undertow.

  2. I do not think the "average joe" knows how difficult it is to compose a film score. I did it once for a short film with solo piano and it was a nightmare. Certain films..KING'S ROW & GONE WITH THE WIND are completely elevated by their scores!!!

  3. I'm very happy that two who know and play music have taken time to comment...

    This performance is a powerful reminder of how eloquently Herrmann's score supported and enhanced Hitchcock's themes in "Vertigo." As did his work with Welles on "Citizen Kane," Hitchcock again on "Psycho" and several others, Scorsese on "Taxi Driver"...and so many more.

    I was just watching another Hitchcock film for a future post and noticed how, even as the opening credits rolled, the score (though not by Herrmann) quickly set the tone of the film and the action to come.

  4. Lady Eve, thank you for posting this beautiful music video.

    Vertigo, is the movie I selected for the, Cafe's Hitchcock Blogathon. I hope you do not mind if I link back to your wonderful article, about the Vertigo sites, that you and your friend visited?

  5. Dawn...I'm flattered that you asked! Please do!