Lot 218
Sold for £360 (US$ 604) inc. premium
Lot Details
BERNARD HERRMANN Music and Film: Scores, manuscripts and books sold on behalf of Norma Herrmann
Typed letter signed ("Orson"), to "Dearest Maestro" [Bernard Herrmann], urging him to escape the bondage of "the Colonel von Fox Hills, he of the air-conditioned teeth" and "make music for the film I'm now starting (directing) and to write the score for our projected Lear which I have a mind to put into rehearsal about Christmas"; reminding him that he, Welles, has "in common with his principals in his last movie enterprise, tried long and earnestly to engage your gist and services for any sum or time", but assuring him nevertheless that his letter "brought me more pleasure than I can say" even though the tone "was a trifle severe" ("...It was fine, very fine to hear from you..."), one page, small nick at lower edge and very slight time-staining, 4to, no place or date [c.1951]


  • ORSON WELLES TO BERNARD HERRMANN: Herrmann had joined Welles's Mercury Theatre in 1938, participating in the notorious War of the Worlds broadcast, and was afterwards summoned by Welles to Hollywood to write the music for Citizen Kane -- music which Welles himself acknowledged, shortly before his death, to be "50 percent responsible" for the film's artistic success.

    In 1947 Welles had tried to get Herrmann to compose the music for his Macbeth. Herrmann was at first enthusiastic, but the project dragged on and Herrmann, who had suffered the trauma of working on The Magnificent Ambersons, eventually withdrew. For a while he did no further film work, but in 1951 accepted an offer from Twentieth Century-Fox and moved to Hollywood. This letter appears to date from around this time. But after finishing the protracted filming of Othello in 1951, Welles was not in fact to direct another film until Mr Arkadin in 1955. Our letter's reference to "the film I'm now starting (directing)" may refer to Ghost Story, the two-reeler shot in Ireland during the closing stages of Othello, but which Welles did not in fact direct. The "projected Lear" referred to in our letter was to be broadcast by CBS television in 1953, with Welles in the title role and Peter Brook directing the actors, while Virgil Thompson composed the music. Welles was working on another production of King Lear at the time of his death in 1985.
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