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Erich Wolfgang Korngold

May 29, 1897 - November 29, 1957
born in Brno, Czech Republic, composed during the Modern period
Erich Wolfgang Korngold's career bridged astonishing gaps in history and music -- from the final years of Imperial Austria, when he was hailed as "a new Mozart," to Hollywood in the heyday of the studio system, to the darkened era of postwar Europe. In Vienna of the 1920s, his name evoked the best that engagingly melodic, tonal music had to offer in the concert hall or the opera house; in Hollywood he was synonymous with the swashbucklers of Errol Flynn. Born in Brünn, in Moravia (now Brno, Czechoslovakia) he was the son of Julius Korngold, one of the most influential music critics in Vienna. Korngold was beating time with a spoon by the age of three, playing basic melodies at age 5, and composing at age 6. He was encouraged by Gustav Mahler to pursue his musical studies, and his teachers included Alexander Von Zemlinsky. He'd written a Piano Sonata in D minor and a ballet entitled The Snowman before he was 10, and at 13, he saw his second piano sonata premiered by Artur Schnabel. He wrote his first two operas, Der Ring des Polykrates and Violanta, in his teens, and in 1920, at 23, Korngold completed his most celebrated operatic work, Die tote Stadt; it was an immediate hit in Austria and Germany, and quickly entered the repertory of opera companies around the world.

The 1920s saw Korngold add theatrical music to his activities -- his adaptation of Johann Strauss' Eine Nacht in Venedig was a worldwide success, as was his Strauss pastiche, Waltzes in Vienna. In 1929, Korngold was commissioned by the producer Max Reinhardt to work on a new stage production of Die Fledermaus. Reinhardt was pleased with the results and impressed with Korngold's work; three years later, when Warner Bros. studios engaged Reinhardt to adapt his stage version of A Midsummer Night's Dream into a film, he engaged Korngold to arrange Felix Mendelssohn's music for the movie. The resulting film was a financial failure, but the studio was impressed with what Korngold had done with the music. He was offered a contract, which he accepted after some slight hesitation.

His first film score, for Captain Blood (1935), delighted both the studio's executives and millions of filmgoers -- Korngold's music added a richness to the sweeping tale of heroism and triumph over injustice that startled viewers with its inventiveness, adding an extra dimension to the drama, and excitement and beauty of the movie. Over the next two years, Korngold turned in dazzling musical scores for Anthony Adverse (1936), Green Pastures (1936), and The Prince and the Pauper (1937).

In late 1937, he returned to Vienna in hope of premiering a new operatic work, but the growing Nazi influence over politics and art made it impossible for Korngold and his family (all of whom were Jewish) to remain. In early 1938, he accepted a new contract offer from Warner Bros. and got himself and his family to America just before Germany annexed Austria. Korngold spent the next nine years in Hollywood among the movie colony's artistic elite, able to pick and choose his films and always doing superb work. Korngold turned in a dozen memorable scores that defined elegance in film music -- from costumed adventures like The Sea Hawk (1940) to serious drama such as Kings Row (1942).

Following the end of World War II, he returned to Austria and got a harsh reception from a populace resentful of his years in Hollywood, and derision from critics over his melodic, tonal music. Korngold lived his final years comfortably in California, in near complete artistic eclipse. ~ Bruce Eder, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: The Sea Hawk/Deception

Disc 1
Title: The Sea Hawk, Film Score
Disc 2
Title: Deception, Film Score
Title: Concerto For Cello & Orchestra In C, Op 37
x

Track List: Erich Wolfgang Korngold: The Piano Music

Disc 1
Title: Sonata For Piano No 1 In D Minor
Title: Don Quixote, 6 Pieces For Piano
Title: Der Schneemann, Ballet-pantomime
Disc 2
Title: Sonata For Piano No 2 In E Major, Op 2
Title: Kleine Karikaturen (4) Für Kinder, For Piano, No. 2, To Make You Slumber (Igor Stravinsky) Op. 19/2
Title: Sonata For Piano No 2 In E Major, Op 2
Title: Kleine Karikaturen (4) Für Kinder, For Piano, No. 2, To Make You Slumber (Igor Stravinsky) Op. 19/2
Title: Märchenbilder For Piano, Op 3
Title: Waltzes (4) For Piano
Title: Kleine Karikaturen (4) Für Kinder, For Piano, Op 19
Title: Was Der Wald Erzählt, Suite For Piano
Disc 3
Title: Das Wunder Der Heliane, Opera, Op. 20
Title: Piano Trio In D Major, Op. 1
Title: Much Ado About Nothing, Suite From The Incidental Music For Piano
Title: Die Tote Stadt (The Dead City), Opera, Op. 12
Title: Geschichten Von Strauss(Tales Of Strauss), For Piano, Op 21
Disc 4
Title: Sonata For Piano, No 3 In C Major, Op 25
Title: Der Schneemann, 4 Easy Pieces For Piano
Title: Schauspiel Overture For Orchestra, Op 4
x

Track List: Korngold: Werke Für Violine & Klavier; Streichsextett

Title: Serenade, For Violin & Piano (From Der Schneemann)
Title: Caprice Fantastique, For Violin & Piano (From Wichtelmännchen) (Authorized Arr. By Rèvay, Rózsika)
Title: Mariettas Lied Zur Laute, For Violin & Piano (From Die Tote Stadt)
Title: Much Ado About Nothing, Suite From The Incidental Music For Violin & Piano, Op. 11
Title: Sextet For Strings In D, Op. 10
x

Track List: Songs & Chamber Music

Disc 1
Title: Lieder (4) (From Shakespeare) For Voice & Piano, Op. 31
Title: Lieder (3) For Voice & Piano, Op. 22
Title: Suite For 2 Violins, Cello & Piano Left Hand, Op. 23
Title: Mariettas Lied Zur Laute, For Violin & Piano (From Die Tote Stadt)
Disc 2
Title: Abschiedslieder (4) For Voice & Piano (Or Orchestra), Op 14/1-4, Complete
Title: Quintet For Piano & Strings In E Major, Op 15
Title: Songs Of The Clown, For Voice & Piano, Op. 29
Title: 2 Lieder O. Op.

Comments

lkgrebnel
Korngold/Fle m i n g ! ! Just about right. . . and Korngold was far tooo civilized for Hitler et al. thx.
His Robin Hood music so embodied the spirit of the film! Or should I say the movie captured the spirit of the music? Hmmmm . . . :D
Classic will always be classic and Korngold is certainly the definitive eternal classic composer from a time period that attempted to linger just a little longer to a more civilized.
there is a part of the score for robin hood that is almost note for note the same as a part of the classical piece Wellington's Victory
no mention so far of his Violin Concerto - one of the best from the 20th century.
met_scannon
It's tragic that his European career in the classical repetoire was shortened due to the Nazi regime. Luckily he was able to escape to the United States and continue composing stunningly beautiful music for the world to hear. Beauty endures!
200858936
One of the best opera pieces I have listned to in many years....
elmusico89
very good composer and definitively a great inspiration for many other great composers like John Williams
WHEN YOU MENTION THE NAME OF ERICH WOLFGANG KORNGOLD.... . . C A P T A I N BLOOD, ROBIN HOOD, THE SEA HAWK, AND MANY OTHER HIGH PROFILE FILMS THAT WAS BLESSED WITH HIS SERIOUS AND BEAUTIFUL MUSIC COME TO MIND!!!!
Film music doesn't get any better than Korngold!!

Who would have guessed that Hollywood in it's infancy could bring-in such an inspired and giant composer to pen some of the most beautiful music ever heard.

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