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In Context: Bernard Herrmann

If one sound made Bernard Herrmann an indelible figure among composers for film, it would probably be the shrieking strings from the notorious shower scene in Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho. By contrast, perhaps because of a prolific 50-year career that included unforgettable scores for Citizen Kane and Taxi Driver, few know that Herrmann also spent eight years writing an opera based on Wuthering Heights. In fact, the Hollywood legend worked intensively on the score in the Twin Cities, home of his good friend, Minneapolis Symphony conductor Dmitri Mitropolis, completing it in 1951. The Minnesota Opera’s new production of Herrmann’s only opera celebrates the centennial of the composer’s birth and is the first full revival of this forgotten masterpiece.

For this program, the Walker partners with the Minnesota Opera and Take-Up Productions to bring fresh insights to Wuthering Heights and Herrmann’s artistry in general. Walker will screen two classics preserved in the National Film Registry: Wuthering Heights, the Academy Award–winning 1939 film adaptation of Emily Brontë’s haunting novel; and Citizen Kane, part of the Walker’s Ruben/Bentson Film and Video Study Collection. For the latter, Herrmann composed the score as the film was being shot—watching each reel alongside Orson Welles.