Psycho (A Narrative for Orchestra) - composed & conducted by Bernard Herrmann (for this 1969 London Philharmonic recording, Herrmann arranged highlights from his score for Psycho, including the iconic main theme & shower scene music, into this shorter suite)
“Going far beyond the temporary shock effects of conventional scary-movie scores, the composer summons what Edmund Burke defined as terror—something deeper than horror, the sense that the world is infinitely treacherous, that no place is safe, even a comfort zone like a shower. That Herrmann used only strings, normally a Hollywood marker for schmaltzy romance, is even more startling.
Herrmann’s music did more than just enhance Psycho; it probably saved it. A story of illicit love that morphs into a crime thriller and finally a lurid horror shocker, Psycho was a sensation with audiences. But during shooting, Hitchcock became convinced it was a dud, that something fundamental was missing, and was on the verge of cutting it up and putting it on television—until he heard the music. Herrmann passionately believed in the project and was convinced it needed only his score. He composed the shower cue in secret, against Hitchcock’s explicit directive, and boldly played it for him after Hitchcock returned to the set from a Christmas break.
Hitchcock openly praised Herrmann for the Psycho score, something he rarely did with his collaborators, but Herrmann worried that Hitchcock resented his pivotal role in the film’s success. Psycho was the beginning of a tragic rift that culminated in Hitchcock publicly firing Herrmann in 1966 for disobeying his directives for Torn Curtain…According to John Williams, Hitchcock’s final composer, ‘Hitchcock may have felt that his style was too dependent on Herrmann’s music, and that may have wounded his pride. They ended up being two matadors opposing one other.’