According to Bernard Herrmann expert Bruce Crawford, Herrmann turned down many film score offers, including Lawrence of Arabia, 2001 Space Odyssey and The Exorcist.
Herrmann was born on the Lower East Side of New York, moved to Hollywood when Orson Welles tapped him to score Citizen Kane and then spent his later years in England, a staunch Anglophile. Film directors would fly to London to pitch him their projects, including one who said to him, “I want you to write a score as great as Vertigo. A score as great as Psycho!” To which Herrmann is reputed to have responded: “and I want you to create a film half as good as either.”
When Martin Scorsese was working on Taxi Driver he said he wanted the movie to have a Bernard Herrmann-like score, thinking Herrmann was dead. Not quite, just living in England. Brian DePalma, a friend of Scorsese, had done two films with Herrmann and helped arrange a meeting in London where Herrmann’s final partnership was struck. And just as Herrmann’s score for Citizen Kane helped lift enfant terrible Orson Welles to international film renown in 1941, his score for Taxi Driver helped Young Turk Martin Scorsese land the top prize at the 1976 Cannes Film Festival. Scorsese dedicated the film to Herrmann, who died on Christmas Eve, 1975 the day he finished the final note for his final score.