Jack Sullivan is director of American Studies and professor of English at Rider University. He has written1 a long overdue tribute to Alfred Hitchcock's musical perspicacity. Sullivan demonstrates Hitchcock’s uncanny ability to manipulate audiences not only with his striking, frightening images but also his adroit use of music, of all kinds, to heighten suspense, atmosphere and drama. He also knew when to employ silences or musical rests to maximum effect. Some of his most distinguished composers, such as Arthur Benjamin, credited him with being far more serious about music than any other director. Hitchcock was a cultured man. He had no formal music training yet was a fervent music-lover and keen concertgoer. Hitchcock came into my life in 1954 with Dial “M” For Murder. -Ron Price with thanks to 1Ian Lace’s review at Music Web International of Hitchcock's Music, Jack Sullivan, Yale University Press, 2006.
You’d been going strong, Alfred,
for thirty years before you came
into my life with Dial “M” For
Murder, with Psycho and The
Birds, their gripping music &
their memorable sounds, now
lost in my memory bank from
my childhood and teens when
the winter of my own life was
setting in early & new values1
had begun to capture my mind
& imagination long ago Alfred.
Over your long career2 you presided
over more musical styles than any
directors in history; ultimately you
changed how we thought about film
music, any film music--oh so clever.
And thanks, Jack, for your discussion
of Hitchcock’s music to influence the
atmosphere, characterization and even
storylines of his films.......Hitchcock’s
relationships with composers: Bernard
Herrmann, Dimitri Tiomkin, Maurice
Jarr and Franz Waxman--achievement,
a sign of genius; they changed the way
we watched-listened to movies-yessiree.
1 The Bahá'í Faith
2 From his work on a film in 1921, The Lodger, to his last in 1976, Family Plot
14 August 2009