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Guide to the Bernard Herrmann Papers, 1927-1977
PA Mss 3  
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Administrative Information
  • Terms Governing Use and Reproduction
  • Biographical Note
  • Scope and Content
  • Related Collections

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Bernard Herrmann Papers,
    Date (inclusive): 1927-1977
    Collection number: PA Mss 3
    Creator: Herrmann, Bernard
    Extent: 102 linear feet (149 boxes)
    Repository: University of California, Santa Barbara. Library. Dept. of Special Collections
    Santa Barbara, CA 93106
    Shelf location: For current information on the location of these materials, please consult the library's online catalog.
    Abstract: The collection is focused around the composing and conducting activity of Bernard Herrmann (1911-1975) between the years 1927 and 1975. A small body of personal papers adds some material relating to his personal life (personal and legal correspondence, diaries, financial documents). The collection represents the extent of the personal papers in Herrmann's possession at the time of his death.
    Language: English.

    Administrative Information


    Except for isolated cases where material has been acquired from other sources, this collection was in the possession of Bernard Herrmann until the time of his death. His will was in probate for seven years; the bulk of the material did not come until the mid-1980s.

    Acquisition Information

    Scores bequeathed to UCSB by Bernard Herrmann in 1975. Sound recordings and personal papers donated by Norma Shepherd Herrmann.
    Except for isolated cases where material has been acquired from other sources, this collection was in the possession of Bernard Herrmann until the time of his death. His will was in probate for seven years; the bulk of the material did not come until the mid-1980s.
    Method of Acquisition: The music manuscripts were bequeathed to the University by the composer. The personal papers, annotated scores and sound recordings were presented as a gift to the University by Herrmann's widow, Norma Shepherd Herrmann. Small acquisitions of music manuscripts, personal papers and sound recordings have been added to the collection periodically.

    Access Restrictions

    Researchers must use microfilm in lieu of originals when available.

    Publication Rights

    See "terms governing use and reproduction" below.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Bernard Herrmann Papers, PA Mss 3, Department of Special Collections, University Libraries, University of California, Santa Barbara.

    Terms Governing Use and Reproduction

    Concert Works.

    Unless noted otherwise, copyright to the concert works are owned by Norma Shepherd Herrmann. Permissions for Norma Herrmann's properties can be cleared through her publishing company by contacting:
    Bernard Herrmann Music Company
    7221 Del Norte
    Goleta, CA 93117
    (805) 961-8190.
    Some scores and parts are available through MMB music in St. Louis:
    MMB Music, Inc.
    Contemporary Arts Building
    3526 Washington Avenue
    Saint Louis, Missouri 63103-1019
    tel. (314) 531-9635.

    Film Music.

    A number of the film scores have been microfilmed by the Library of Congress and are identified as Microfilm 87/20, 037 (Mus). In order to preserve the originals, all users must use microfilm when available. Additionally, requests for copies of film scores that have been microfilmed should be directed to the Library of Congress. LC requires written permission from the individual copyright holders before they will provide copies. Letters of permission should be sent directly to:
    Photoduplication Office
    Library of Congress
    101 Independence Ave. SE
    Washington, DC 20540-4570.
    (202) 707-5640
    Fax: (202) 707-1771
    http://lcweb.loc.gov/preserv/pds/ p

    e-mail: photoduplication@loc.gov
    All of Herrmann's film music was written under composer-for-hire contractual agreements. It is standard practice for studios to specify in these contracts the publisher who will take the copyright for the music produced under the agreement. Most of the publishers named in his contracts have been sold a number of times. As a result, the best way to ascertain copyright ownership of a film score is to consult the performance rights societies ASCAP and BMI for current ownership. Herrmann was a member of ASCAP until the end of 1959, when he joined BMI. This guide indicates the ASCAP or BMI affiliation and the initial publisher of most of the film scores. Contact the appropriate society with the name and date of the film, indicating that you want to locate the current copyright holder to request permission for a photocopy of the unpublished score.
    ASCAP has two offices:
    1 Lincoln Plaza
    New York, NY 10023
    (212) 621-6329
    7920 Sunset Blvd., Suite 300
    Los Angeles, CA 90046
    (213) 883-1000
    ACE, ( http://www.ascap.com)  a searchable database of ASCAP titles is available on the web to verify current ownership status.
    BMI (Broadcast Music, Inc.) is located at:
    320 W. 57th Street
    New York, NY 10019
    (212) 586-2000.
    The society should respond with an address and contact person. Write this person with your request, telling them what use you plan to make of what you are requesting. A searchable database of BMI compositions ( http://www.bmi.com)  titles is available on the web to verify current ownership status.
    Copies of scores that have not been microfilmed and recordings can be obtained from UCSB with permission of the copyright owner. Send permissions and requests to:
    Curator of Performing Arts Collections
    Davidson Library
    University of California
    Santa Barbara, CA 93106
    (805) 893-5444
    fax: (805) 893-4676
    email: special@library.ucsb.edu
    The above address can be used for any other inquiries about the collections.
    For inquiries about performing Herrmann's film music contact:
    John Waxman
    Themes and Variations
    (203) 227-5709

    Biographical Note

    Born in New York City in 1911, Bernard Herrmann was educated at New York University, where he studied with Philip James (composition) and Bernard Wagenaar (conducting); and at Juilliard, where he studied with Percy Grainger (composition) and Albert Stossel (conducting). He was an active member of Aaron Copland's Young Composer's Group during the early thirties, and initiated a friendship with Charles Ives after discovering some of Ives's privately published scores at the New York Public Library. In 1931 he formed the New Chamber Orchestra, with which he conducted works by himself and his peers, including Jerome Moross and Arthur Berger, as well as works by Charles Ives.
    His exposure with the New Chamber Orchestra attracted the attention of John Green, who hired Herrmann as a staff arranger and conductor at CBS Radio in 1933. His talents as a composer became evident when he submitted a score for narrator and orchestra using Keat's poem La belle dame sans merci in late 1934. He soon became involved in the scoring of radio dramas with the innovative and experimental series Columbia Workshop. He also worked with Orson Welles as music director of the Mercury Theater of the Air. He pursued his interest in conducting with the CBS Symphony, eventually winning an appointment as chief conductor in 1941. His dramatic cantata Moby Dick, for male soloists, male chorus, and large orchestra, received its world premiere with the New York Philharmonic under John Barbarolli's direction in April of 1940.
    Herrmann's association with Welles led him to Hollywood in 1939 when the Mercury Theater was contracted by RKO Radio Pictures to make a film. Citizen Kane and The Magnificent Ambersons resulted, both scored by Herrmann. He continued his work as conductor of the CBS Symphony Orchestra and as a composer of scores for radio dramas through the 1940s, and took four assignments from 20th Century-Fox that appealed to him: Jane Eyre (1943), Hangover Square (1944), Anna and the King of Siam (1946), and The Ghost and Mrs. Muir (1947). His work on Jane Eyre inspired him to adapt Wuthering Heights as an opera (1943-1951), which he ranked as his most important work.
    With the swift post-war decline of commercial radio, Herrmann's rewarding career as the conductor of the CBS orchestra and composer of music for radio drama evaporated. Hollywood presented the only practical career alternative; Herrmann moved to California in 1951, and for four years worked exclusively at 20th Century-Fox. Most of the work during this time was on adventure films set in exotic locales ( Beneath the Twelve-Mile Reef, White Witch Doctor, The King of the Khyber Rifles, The Egyptian, etc.). In 1955 he began to freelance, and became involved with Alfred Hitchcock's feature filmmaking operation. He went on to score many of Hitchcock's most successful films ( Vertigo, North by Northwest, Psycho, etc.). Herrmann continued to conduct during this period, though almost exclusively in England. He most frequently conducted the Halle and BBC Orchestras.
    In the early 1960s, Herrmann's career began to unravel once again. His bellicose temper, fed by his failure to secure a conducting post, began to threaten his offers to guest conduct. His recalcitrance over details of production scuttled every opportunity to stage his opera Wuthering Heights. In Hollywood the studio system began to deteriorate rapidly. Popular songs became very much in demand from film producers looking to squeeze every last potential dollar out of their films. This popular music syndrome proved the downfall of Herrmann's relationship with Alfred Hitchcock. Asked to write in a popular idiom for Torn Curtain (1966), Herrmann instead produced a very intense and unorthodox score, in an effort to better serve the dramatic needs of the film. Hitchcock regarded this as an act of insubordination and betrayal, and fired Herrmann only moments after hearing the score for the first time.
    Unable to find work in Hollywood, Herrmann began to take film assignments in England and make commercial recordings for London Records. His films from this period included two directed by Francois Truffaut, Fahrenheit 451 and La marieé etait en noir. Eventually a younger group of filmmakers began to emerge in the 1970s, led by Brian DePalma ( Sisters and Obsession) and Martin Scorcese ( Taxi Driver). Suffering from a heart condition aggravated by years of chain smoking, Herrmann was unable to take full advantage of this resurgence of interest in his work. The evening before Christmas Eve 1975, after finishing the recording sessions of Taxi Driver, Herrmann died in his sleep at the age of 64.

    Scope and Content

    The collection consists largely of manuscript paper materials (correspondence, financial records, scores, and photographs), sound recordings (primarily glass- and aluminum-based acetate discs, plus open reel transfers and cassettes), and published scores.
    The collection contains three series: Personal (including correspondence, financial records, photographs), Music Scores (including full scores, short scores and instrumental parts, arranged alphabetically by title), and Sound Recordings. Published scores from the collection generally have been cataloged individually and can be accessed via the UCSB online catalog (Pegasus), the UC online database MELVYL, or the RLIN and OCLC databases.

    Related Collections

    • Music manuscripts of Herrmann's music for CBS Radio may be found in the CBS Collection at the New York Public Library.
    • Music manuscripts of Herrmann's music for CBS Television may be found in the CBS Collection in the Music Library Special Collections at UCLA.
    • Several significant items of music manuscript ( Citizen Kane full score, sketches of Anna and the King of Siam ) are in the Music Division of the Library of Congress.