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James Bernard

Production Credits
Original music by James Bernard
Composed for the film Nosferatu, 1922
Produced by Philip Lane
Recorded August 1997
14 Tracks, Total Time 63:14
Performed by City of
Prague Philharmonic
Nic Raine - Conductor
Vladimir Pilar - Leader
Silva Screen Records

The Dracula story always appealed to me, as did Nosferatu. I believe strongly in the powers of Good and Evil, and the eternal fight between God and the Devil--concord and discord. Nosferatu has been quite a challenge as it is my first score for a silent film--so there was no relaxing, no thunderstorms or clattering of horses hooves. F.W. Murnau sub-titled the film "A Symphony of Horrors," so I have tried to write a score that holds together like a symphony--or more aptly a symphonic poem--a web of several contrasting themes.

Production Sketch The power of Orlock's evil must be felt strongly. His theme is unrelenting and is mostly played by a brass section of four trombones, four trumpets and a tuba. I took the title, Nosferatu, to make the theme, as I have done in many of my other scores, such as Dracula. Ellen has a sad romantic theme played by a large string section. I welcomed Ellen's moments as I could use a theme with concords. She also has a subsidiary motif; her fascination with Nosferatu. I feel that she half wants him to drink her blood even though he is so repulsive.

Hutter is happy and innocent so he has an open-air, rustic tune played on woodwind. This disappears when he eventually realizes the horror of the situation. His second, more urgent, theme is derived from the lower line of Orlock's theme. Knock, the madman, is the servant of evil. he has a mysterious rising and falling theme, a mixture of minor and whole tine scales. His pursuit by a lynch mob is a set piece. It begins with the muttering of townspeople: many instruments playing just off the beat. It is played at a cracking pace.

At the end, when the cock crows, Ellen's theme becomes more and more major and finally conquers that of Orlock, to become the theme of goodness. It does not reach its final cadence until she dies.

--JAMES BERNARD, from the liner notes

A selection of Nosferatu related music.

Find Nosferatu on

A selection of Nosferatu in books.

A History of Horror

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