A New Captain

Count Orlock gets a crazy idea

Knock eats flies

Nosferatu Special Edition from Image Entertainment
Credits   Story   Murnau   Vampires   Images   Scores   Shadow of the Vampire   Links   Buy Now
Did you ever wonder what the original score by Hans Erdmann sounded like? Now you can hear part of it online.

Nosferatu has been available in restored and un-restored prints on VHS, DVD, and Laser Disk. Some of the MANY scores for the film are also available on CD and electronic media forms. We have attempted to catalog them here (in no particular order).

The original music was part composition and part compilation by Hans Erdmann. There are occasional performances of this orchestral score at film festivals and special screenings but there are no video releases with this score. There is an out-of-print RCA recording of this score conducted by Gillian Anderson. Portions of the score were recorded by the Phoenix Wind Project.

The "Masterworks of German Cinema" DVD has a version of Nosferatu with a score by a German composer named Peter Shirman. We are told that this chamber piece was most likely composed in the 1960's for live accompaniment of the film in Europe. This score is reported to have made its way onto some of the earliest VHS tapes of the film.

In 1997 James Bernard (1925-2001) composed an orchestral score that was performed by the City of Prague Philharmonic for a Channel Four television presentation of the film. There is reportedly a DVD which also features this score but we do not have the specifics of this title. Bernard is best known for his work on the British Hammer Films -- in particular, his work on the Dracula series staring Christopher Lee.

The Nosferatu Special Edition DVD from Image Entertainment features a Dolby Digital (5.0) score by Silent Orchestra. The Silent Orchestra score draws from a variety of 20th century musical styles. Their background includes contemporary film composition as well as classical, world, and other genres. This surround score, composed by Carlos Garza and Rich O'Meara is now only available on DVD from Image Entertainment. It was originally available on video from Kino but has since been replaced along with the print (see below).

The Image DVD also features a Tim Howard organ score in stereo. This is the same score that has been available on the prior Image Entertainment DVD/Laser disks and an earlier release of the Kino video. Howard's score is rooted in the music of the 19th century, the setting of the story.

There is a video tape entitled "Nosferatu - First Vampire" with a score by the rock band, Type O Negative. It is narrated by David Carradine (Kung Fu Workout). In the same vein (I couldn't resist) is "Nosferatu - The Gothic Industrial Mix" on DVD featuring music from (you guessed it) Gothic Industrial bands on the Cleopatra label. Bands featured include Christian Death, Electric Hellfire Club, and others.

There is a Japanese release of Nosferatu with dubbed voices. This version is reported to feature a "throaty Japanese Benshi woman" doing the voice of Count Orlock.

In the UK there is a PAL DVD from Eureka with a score performed by the French progressive group, Art Zoyd. And in August of 2002 Kino relesed a new video and DVD with music composed by Géard Hourbette and Thierry Zaboitzeff and performed by Art Zoyd. The Kino DVD has an additional score by Donald Sosin with vocals by Joanna Seaton. Both scores are in stereo.

The two groups that (more or less) created the concept of "New Music for Silent Films" as we know it today are Club Foot Orchestra and Alloy Orchestra. San Francisco based, Club Foot Orchestra has a Nosferatu score written by Richard Marriott with contributions by Gino Robair. The score was premiered at San Francisco State University in April of 1989. Also, the ubiquitous Alloy Orchestra has recorded and performed a score for Nosferatu and there are rumors of a DVD release...

One of the newest scores that we know of is by the Russian electronic group, EED. Their score is unfortunately no longer available.

Portuguese pop/rock band, Clã is reported to have created a new score in 2001. They have recorded for the Porugese affiliate of EMI but it is not known if their score is available.

A contemporary score is available from a group called Jill Tracy and The Malcontent Orchestra.

Clearly Murnau would have found much of this music very foreign and inappropriate if it had been available in 1922. That's not as hypothetical as it sounds. There are many who believe that silent films are only appropriate when shown with music available at the time the film was created. However, each of these organizations has attempted (to one degree or another) to create a score that conveys the film's meaning at some level while communicating to a new audience. Hopefully, there is something for everyone in this list and we imagine that Murnau would at least have been flattered by the thought that his film has inspired so much original music.

We acknowledge that this list is by no means complete and ask our readers to help us in completing it. We welcome any updated information on these and other scores that we may have missed. Please see the Contacts page.

Here is an in-depth look at the Silent Orchestra score.






 Carlos Garza © 2000 Silent Orchestra

Dolby and the double-D symbol are trademarks of the Dolby Laboratories Licensing Corporation.

home About