About this Recording
8.572718 - HERRMANN, B.: Jane Eyre [film score] (Slovak Radio Symphony, Adriano)
English 

Bernard Herrmann (1911–1975)
Jane Eyre

 

The Film

In 1942, Orson Welles was engaged by Twentieth Century Fox to play the male lead in Jane Eyre, a picture written and directed by Robert Stevenson and produced by William Goetz. Aldous Huxley and John Houseman had been hired for the script, but Welles claimed control over it, as well as over other domains of this production. He recommended Bernard Herrmann for the soundtrack, apparently after Igor Stravinsky had rejected the proposal. Herrmann was at that time a successful composer, conductor and music advisor at CBS. Besides Joan Fontaine in the rôle of Jane, the picture featured young actresses Peggy Ann Garner as Jane the child, Margaret O’Brien as Adèle and Elizabeth Taylor as Helen Burns. Agnes Moorehead and Henry Daniell played Aunt Reed and Mr Brocklehurst, the villains of the story.

The picture is based on Charlotte Brontë’s novel and tells us the story of a girl who, after spending her childhood in a harsh orphanage, is employed as a governess at Thornfield Hall, a mansion inhabited by Edward Rochester and Adèle, his little French ward. Jane falls in love with Rochester, a gloomy character with a mysterious past. After having saved him from an attempt by his mad wife to burn the house down, Jane is confronted with the woman, who has lived hidden away in an upper room for years. Rochester, eventually falling in love with Jane, proposes to her and gives up the beautiful Blanche Ingram. On the day of their marriage, Rochester’s brother-in-law appears and reveals the truth in public. Jane leaves Thornfield Hall and becomes the nurse of her old dying aunt. The intense love of Rochester and Jane overcomes all distances and reunites the couple for ever. After hearing that Thornfield Hall has been burned to the ground by the madwoman and that, in an attempt to rescue her, Rochester has been blinded, Jane returns to him and becomes his wife.

The Music

Jane Eyre was completed in August 1943. It was Herrmann’s fourth film score, written between Orson Welles’s The Magnificent Ambersons and John Brahm’s Hangover Square and it is the first of his thirteen remarkable scores for Twentieth Century Fox, before starting a fruitful collaboration with Alfred Hitchcock. This score takes also an important place in Herrmann’s output as a “classical” composer: it was written between two masterworks, his Symphony of 1941 and his opera Wuthering Heights, written in the same year as Jane Eyre. Since the work on this film had introduced the composer to the romantic world of the Brontës, its music too, was to be partly incorporated in the opera. Cathy’s aria “Oh, I am burning“ of Act 3 and the Prelude to Act 4 are, in fact, quotations of Jane Eyre’s “Love theme”. Later in 1945, Herrmann incorporated passages from Wuthering Heights in The Ghost and Mrs Muir, another of his “romantic” film scores.

In addition to the fact that it is his longest film score, Jane Eyre is generally considered Herrmann’s most romantic or most conventional one, since it is built upon romantic motifs and uses conventional orchestral forces. Herrmann’s romanticism, however, or rather his lyricism, can be found in his whole musical output. Even in more avant-garde film scores such as Torn Curtain, Sisters or Taxi Driver, lyricism in melody, harmony and counterpoint can be found. Romanticism à la Herrmann includes all of his congenial, emotional musical devices, ranging from lyric tunes to mysterious, eerie, “gothic” or horror music, and in Jane Eyre all of it can be found and some of it even anticipates Psycho.

The score is dominated by three principal themes, which stand for the two leading characters and their love. Secondary themes are generally made up from its variations, or some of its constituent cells. It is interesting to notice that a rather dissonant “Passion” cell (c1, d-flat1, c2, b-flat1), appearing at the very beginning of the Prelude featuring the extended “Love theme”, is identical with the first four notes in Rochester’s Theme, but transposed down to a1 and rhythmically strengthened to become “masculine”. This “Passion” cell, surprisingly, does not appear in Jane’s own theme (f-sharp2, g-sharp2, e2, bflat1, etc.), which is first played by the oboe at the end of the Prelude, unless we recognize it in its first four notes as still unaffirmed. If played in another sequence, this “feminine” cell (-theme) reveals at first Jane’s growing into an adult (the bell-like theme opening Time Passage) and later the sound of bells in the Marriage sequence. Jane is the protagonist in the picture and her personality is shown as developing from childhood to maturity. Her theme is, therefore, more often varied than Rochester’s, appropriate to a mature character from the first moment he appears on the screen. The simple variation heard, for example in Jane Alone and in Farewell, sounds more resigned in mood than the string passage at the beginning of Jane’s Departure, suggesting hope. Steven C. Smith, in his book on Herrmann, reveals that Jane’s theme actually originates from Rebecca, one of his Radio scores of 1938. Rochester’s energetic seven-bar theme, of Phrygian character, heard at the centre of movement of the same name, played by the full orchestra, contains an additional five-note cell (g1, f1, e1, b-flat1, a1) forming the theme of Thornfield Hall, his mansion, which is eventually transformed into a chaotic quintuplet cell for piccolo describing the secluded madwoman living there. Since the “Passion” cell occurs in Rochester’s and in the “Love theme” and not in Jane’s, it is once more meant to indicate Jane’s less complex, instinctive and simpler nature, even if her own music undergoes more remote harmonic changes than Rochester’s. Further investigation of this score could lead to the discovery of more thematic and harmonic connections, as, for example, the fact that the themes of Jane, Rochester and their Love are all in F keys (F sharp minor, F major and F minor) and that the last, a passionate affair of 23 bars, wanders through eight different keys before returning to its initial one. It is also accompanied by a shifted imitating motif at a lower octave, written presumably in order to emphasize that love and passion are only great if there is mutual correspondence of the same strength. Within Herrmann’s early film music output, this Love theme is one of his longest. Later on in his career he would use short cell units more consistently.

featuring the extended “Love theme”, is identical with the first four notes in Rochester’s Theme, but transposed down to a1 and rhythmically strengthened to become “masculine”. This “Passion” cell, surprisingly, does not appear in Jane’s own theme (f-sharp2, g-sharp2, e2, bflat1, etc.), which is first played by the oboe at the end of the Prelude, unless we recognize it in its first four notes as still unaffirmed. If played in another sequence, this “feminine” cell (-theme) reveals at first Jane’s growing into an adult (the bell-like theme opening Time Passage) and later the sound of bells in the Marriage sequence. Jane is the protagonist in the picture and her personality is shown as developing from childhood to maturity. Her theme is, therefore, more often varied than Rochester’s, appropriate to a mature character from the first moment he appears on the screen. The simple variation heard, for example in Jane Alone and in Farewell, sounds more resigned in mood than the string passage at the beginning of Jane’s Departure, suggesting hope. Steven C. Smith, in his book on Herrmann, reveals that Jane’s theme actually originates from Rebecca, one of his Radio scores of 1938. Rochester’s energetic seven-bar theme, of Phrygian character, heard at the centre of movement of the same name, played by the full orchestra, contains an additional five-note cell (g1, f1, e1, b-flat1, a1) forming the theme of Thornfield Hall, his mansion, which is eventually transformed into a chaotic quintuplet cell for piccolo describing the secluded madwoman living there. Since the “Passion” cell occurs in Rochester’s and in the “Love theme” and not in Jane’s, it is once more meant to indicate Jane’s less complex, instinctive and simpler nature, even if her own music undergoes more remote harmonic changes than Rochester’s. Further investigation of this score could lead to the discovery of more thematic and harmonic connections, as, for example, the fact that the themes of Jane, Rochester and their Love are all in F keys (F sharp minor, F major and F minor) and that the last, a passionate affair of 23 bars, wanders through eight different keys before returning to its initial one. It is also accompanied by a shifted imitating motif at a lower octave, written presumably in order to emphasize that love and passion are only great if there is mutual correspondence of the same strength. Within Herrmann’s early film music output, this Love theme is one of his longest. Later on in his career he would use short cell units more consistently.

The Score and Recording

The present writer was submitted a reduced and, apparently, third generation photocopy of Herrmann’s manuscript. He was unable to discover the whereabouts or even ascertain the continuing existence of the original. After a careful note-by-note check, a complete transcription was made, since many passages were barely legible or blurred. The soundtrack from a video copy of the film, in so far as its historical sound covered by dialogue allowed, and personal knowledge of Herrmann’s style, were of additional help. The final result is a newly edited full score with orchestral parts, as transcribed by means of computer music software.

The comparison with the original soundtrack led to the decision to consider Herrmann’s last-minute changes, not appearing in the manuscript. This refers, among other things, to the opening of Jane’s Farewell, where the beat of a few 4/2 measures was changed into a 3/2 and the percussion and timpani parts in the first four measures cancelled.

Those many short musical segments which were cut either during the recording or the editing of the soundtrack were restored. For example, Jane Alone, Farewell and Jane’s Farewell (Rochester’s Confession) are for the first time to be heard in full for the first time. Originally the Love motive in the Prelude was deprived of its first four bars following Twentieth Century Fox’s Fanfare, cutting down its organic build-up, even if those bars are repeated immediately afterwards. On the other hand, a few bars here and there, which had been erased by the composer for obvious musical continuity demands, were also ignored. An isolated cue of two bars entitled Adèle, which could hardly be linked to a preceding or a following cue, was an unavoidable victim on our own editing desk. For Rochester and Jane’s Return, cues for which Herrmann had composed alternative endings, the ones used in the soundtrack were recorded for this release.

The wind section of Jane Eyre’s orchestral ensemble calls for three flutes, including piccolos and alto flutes, two oboes, two English horns, two clarinets, bass clarinet, two bassoons, contrabassoon, four horns, three trumpets, three trombones and tuba. The percussion includes snare, tenor and bass drum, triangle, cymbals, beaten and whipped tam-tam and wood-blocks. Besides a conventional string section, instruments such as vibraphone, chimes, glockenspiel, harp, celesta, piano and organ are used. The double-bass clarinet has been omitted throughout. It is not clearly audible on the soundtrack, if, indeed, this instrument was used in tutti passages, but in the manuscript its part appears mostly erased. A charming Valse Bluette for a music-box was also restored and, in our case, played on a synthesizer. Needless to say that, compared to most Hollywood composers, whose soundtracks were often improved by the intervention of skilful orchestrators, Herrmann had insisted on orchestrating his music himself.

As far as original tempi and dynamics are concerned, the soundtrack served as guidance, especially in those (very frequent) places where they differ from the manuscript’s indications. It is obvious that this recording is not an archaeological restoration, but rather a new rendering, still conforming to original intentions, through another conductor’s approach towards a masterwork which he has loved and lived with for over twenty years. Those who approach this recording only to compare it with the original and do not want to experience it as a newly interpreted piece, as is the custom with music from the usual classical repertoire, should restrict themselves to the composer’s own, magnificent interpretation.

For the present recording, Herrmann’s original 29 cues were assembled into 21. Those linked together also appear as such in the original soundtrack. Titles of cues correspond to those in the manuscript, except for tracks 17 and 19, where additional titles in brackets have been assigned in order to avoid misunderstandings. The last page of Herrmann’s score bears the date of 13 August 1943. The film was released in December of the same year. In 1970, the 59-year old composer recorded with the London Philharmonic Orchestra a thirteen-minute suite of Jane Eyre, which was released by the Decca Record Company, in an unforgettable series of four LPs dedicated to Herrmann’s film scores, available today on CD.

Many thanks are due to Martin Silver and Chris Husted of the Bernard Herrmann Archive of the University of California, Santa Barbara, for having supplied photostats of the manuscript. In writing these notes I made use of two excellent and highly recommendable books on Herrmann, Steven C. Smith’s biography A Heart At Fire’s Center (University of California Press, 1991) and Graham Bruce’s study Bernard Herrmann, Film Music and Narrative (UMI Research Press, 1985) were of help. Since the preparation of the score and parts was done all by myself and Mr Klaus Heymann of Naxos was alone in showing a positive and encouraging attitude towards my work, I thank him for having trusted me and provided this great opportunity. Last but not least, this CD is dedicated to the memory of Bernard Herrmann. Without his considerable musical influence I would never have become what I am today.


Adriano
Edited by Keith Anderson


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