James Bernard (1925 -2001 )
James's best-known Hammer scores include such acknowledged classics as The Quatermass Experiment, The Curse of Frankenstein, Dracula and The Devil Rides Out. James's contribution to Hammer's films was immeasurable, and alongside such contemporaries as Terence Fisher and Bernard Robinson he will be remembered as one of the British film industry's greatest talents.
Born in India, the son of a British army officer, but was moved to England as a small child for his health. He was educated at Wellington College, where the future actor Christopher Lee was a classmate. Fortuitously, because Lee was to star in scores of horror films for Hammer Studios, for which James Bernard wrote the scores. Bernard's first major break as a composer was at the age of 17 when he met Benjamin Britten and Peter Pears, for whom Bernard later wrote a song cycle.
This British Composer was Hammer's music equivalent to stars Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee. His Dracula theme is immediately recognizable by any fan of the films. He began composing as a teenager during World War II and went on to study music at the Royal College Of Music. His musical film work has been almost entirely for Hammer Studios although he did win an Academy Award in 1950 for co-authoring the story for the thriller Seven Days to Noon. The scores to his films have recently been getting attention, thanks to releases from Silva Screen.
The many friends, colleagues and admirers of composer James Bernard were saddened to learn that he passed away after many months of ill health on Monday 9 July 2001. James had completed his introduction to the soundtrack album of She in May. Sadly he did not live to see the either the album or David Huckvale's biography, which is due to be published by Flicks Books later this year.