Hitchcock’s Music Jack Sullivan

Publication date:
20 May 2008
Yale University Press
384 pages: 235 x 156mm
30 b-w illus.


For half a century Alfred Hitchcock created films full of gripping and memorable music. Over his long career he presided over more musical styles than any director in history and ultimately changed how we think about film music. This book is the first to fully explore the essential role music played in the movies of Alfred Hitchcock.
Based on extensive interviews with composers, writers, and actors, and research in rare archives, Jack Sullivan discusses how Hitchcock used music to influence the atmosphere, characterization, and even storylines of his films. Sullivan examines the director’s important relationships with various composers, especially Bernard Herrmann, and tells the stories behind the musical decisions.  Covering the whole of the director’s career, from the early British works up to Family Plot, this engaging look at the work of Alfred Hitchcock offers new insight into his achievement and genius and changes the way we watch—and listen—to his movies.

Jack Sullivan is director of American Studies and professor of English at Rider University.  He is the author of New World Symphonies: How American Culture Changed European Music, published by Yale University Press. He lives in New York City.

'Sullivan, endlessly curious of ear, does not merely cherry-pick everyone's favourite seven or eight Hitchcock movie scores, but carefully analyses the music in all of them.'
-Steven Poole, The Guardian

'incisive and convincing...a great triumph.'
-Frank McLynn, Literary Review

'The first book on Hitchcock, written by Cahiers du Cinema critics' Claude Chabrol and Eric Rohmer was published in 1957. There are now 56 works on him on my shelves. That there is room for yet another is convincingly established by Jack Sullivan, a professor of English at Rider University, New Jersey, in the introduction to his lucid, enthusiastic and meticulously researched Hitchcock's Music. This is a major contribution to the understanding of both a great, infinately fascinating director and the movie-making process. It should appeal equally to musicologists and to those with little technical knowledge of music.'
-Philip French, The Observer

'Sullivan's well-documented account, including some of Hitchcock's original music briefings sheds a refreshingly different light on familiar film classics - and their creator.'
-Michael Scott Rohan, BBC Music Magazine

'Jack Sullivan's examination of the role music played in the dramatic and emotional impact of Hitchcock's films seems long overdue in moving the spotlight away from the sproket to the stave.'
-Michael Quinn, Classical Music

'...the year's best film book, Jack Sullivan's Hitchcock's Music...is a lucid, revealing account of the significance of music and musicians in Hitchcock's films.'
-Philip French, Observer

'Sullivan's account is an excellent and revelatory addition to the literature of cinema.' -Christopher Hirst, The Independent

‘A fascinating and scholarly account of some of the great scores in cinema.’
-Tim Robey, Daily Telegraph