Composers Datebook®

Korngold makes a Snowman

Erich Wolfgang von Korngold (1897 – 1957) — The Snowman (Northwest German Philharmonic; Werner Andreas Albert, cond.) CPO 999 037 Erich Wolfgang von Korngold (1897 – 1957) — Violin Concerto in D, Op. 35 (Chantal Juillet, violin; Berlin Radio Symphony; John Mauceri, cond.) London 452 481


Composer's Datebook - October 4, 2021

2:00


October 04, 2021

Synopsis

On today’s date in 1910, a young Austrian composer had his first major work staged at the Vienna Court Opera. It was quite a prestigious affair, all in all, with the Vienna Philharmonic in the pit and none other than Franz Josef, the Austrian Emperor, in the audience.

All that was enough to go to any young composer’s head – and the composer in question, Erich Wolfgang Korngold, was very young indeed. He was just 13 when his ballet-pantomime entitled “The Snowman” premiered in Vienna. Actually, he’d written the piano version of “The Snowman” back in 1908, when he was all of 11. Korngold’s teacher, the composer Alexander von Zemlinsky, orchestrated the piece for the Vienna Court Opera performance, but it wasn’t very long before little Erich was preparing his own orchestrations, thank you very much.

By his 20s, Korngold was celebrated throughout Europe as composer of operas and concert hall works. Korngold settled in Hollywood in the late 1930s, as his Jewish heritage made a career in Nazi Europe impossible. His film scores for classic Errol Flynn adventure movies – “SVASH-booo-klers” as Korngold called them in his thick Viennese accent – made him famous in America.

Music Played in Today's Program

Erich Wolfgang von Korngold (1897 – 1957) — The Snowman (Northwest German Philharmonic; Werner Andreas Albert, cond.) CPO 999 037

Erich Wolfgang von Korngold (1897 – 1957) — Violin Concerto in D, Op. 35 (Chantal Juillet, violin; Berlin Radio Symphony; John Mauceri, cond.) London 452 481

On This Day

Deaths

  • 1970 - American composer George Frederick McKay, age 71, in Stateline, Nev

  • 1982 - Canadian pianist and occasional composer Glenn Gould, age 50, in Toronto;

Premieres

  • 1803 - Cherubini: opera "Anacréon," at the Paris Opéra;

  • 1815 - Rossini: opera, "Elisabetta, Regina d'Inghilterra" (Elizabeth I, Queen of England), in Naples;

  • 1910 - Korngold: pantomime, "The Snowman," at the Vienna Court Opera, conducted by Alexander Zemlinsky; Korngold was 13 at the time;

  • 1916 - R. Strauss: opera, "Ariadne auf Naxos" (revised version), at the Vienna Court Opera, conducted by Franz Schalk, with vocal soloists Maria Jertiza (Ariadne), Selma Kurz (Zerbinetta), Lotte Lehmann (Composer), and Bela Kornyey (Bacchus); An earlier version of this opera (minus its prologue) had premiered in Stuttgart on Oct. 24, 1912, conducted by the composer;

  • 1936 - Dvorák: Symphony No. 1 in c ("The Bells of Zlonice"), in Prague, posthumously; This symphony was composed in 1865;

  • 1941 - Manuel Ponce: "Concierto del Sur" for guitar and orchestra, in Montevideo;

  • 1945 - Copland: "Appalachian Spring" Orchestra Suite, at Carnegie Hall by New York Philharmonic conducted by Artur Rodzinski, with simultaneous performances the next day by the Boston Symphony and Cleveland Orchestra; the original chamber orchestra version of Copland's complete ballet score(choreographed by Martha Graham) had premiered at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., on October 30, 1944;

  • 1956 - Leon Kirchner: "Toccata" for strings, winds and percussion, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, by the Symphony of the Air, Leopold Stokowski conducting;

  • 1956 - Martinu: Piano Concerto No. 4 ("Incantations"), at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, by the Symphony of the Air, Leopold Stokowski conducting, with pianist Rudolf Firkusny;

  • 1959 - Shostakovich: Cello Concerto No. 1, by the Leningrad Philharmonic conducted by Yevgeny Mravinsky, with Mstislav Rostropovich as soloist;

  • 1962 - William Schuman: Symphony No. 8 (commissioned for opening season of New York Philharmonic at Lincoln Center);

  • 1982 - Glass: "Koyaanisqatsi" film score premiered at Radio City Music Hall Film Festival in New York;

  • 1991 - Lou Harrison: "Homage to Pacifica," over KPFA radio in Berkeley, Calif.;

  • 1997 - Michael Daugherty: "Niagra Falls" for winds, in Ann Arbor, by the University of Michigan Symphonic Band, conducted by H. Robert Reynolds.

Others

  • 1738 - London music publisher John Walsh the younger issues Handel's Organ Concertos, Op. 4 (Gregorian date: Oct. 15);

  • 1739 - Handel completes in London his Concerto Grosso in F, Op. 6, no. 2 (Gregorian date: Oct. 15);

  • 1921 - The American Academy in Rome awards American composer Leo Sowerby its first two-year composition fellowship; American composer Howard Hanson was awarded the second two-year composition fellowship on November 9, 1921; The third fellowship was awarded to Randall Thompson on June 6, 1922; The fellowship awards continue to this day.