The Day The Earth Stood Still

Music by Bernard Herrmann

Late in 1993, entertainment-industry giant 20th Century Fox formed a new record label, Fox Records, as a way to release classic soundtracks from 20th Century Fox films. The first batch of CDs to come out of that endeavor included this gem: Bernard Herrmann's eerie score to the 1951 film, "The Day The Earth Stood Still." Herrmann is probably best known for his collaborations with directors Orson Wells ("Citizen Kane", "The Magnificent Ambersons") and Alfred Hitchcock ("Psycho", "North by Northwest", "Vertigo"), but his work here for Robert Wise is equally strong. Herrmann believed that there was no particular reason a film composer should have to stick to a conventional orchestra. For "The Day The Earth Stood Still," he collected together a truly strange ensemble, including four pianos, four harps, a whole lot of brass, an electric violin, electric bass, and two high and low theremins. The unearthly whine of the theremin, an early electronic instrument, ensures that this music still sounds creepy today, four decades after it was written. This score is perhaps the pinnacle of '50's sci-fi music, and listening to it now is a great way to take a sonic trip back through the Gernsback Continuum. Kudos to producer Nick Redman on a fine release. Klaatu Barada Nikto!

Here is the Finale track. This is the last 30 seconds of the album in 8-bit WAV format sampled at 11 KHz. It's about 300K. The sound quality on the CD is much higher, but this'll give you some idea of what this music sounds like.

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