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Composers Datebook®

with host John Birge

Sunday, March 28

Erich "Wunderkind" Korngold

Synopsis

Most composers have to wait for years before their works get performed by a major orchestra or opera company–but not Erich Wolfgang Korngold, a child prodigy who grew up in the Vienna of Gustav Mahler. After hearing the nine-year-old play through one of his compositions, Mahler declared Korngold a genius.

At age 13, Korngold’s pantomime, “The Snow Man” was performed at the Vienna Court Opera, and on today’s date in 1916, when he was just 18, two of Korngold's one-act operas “Violanta” and “Polycrates’ Ring,” were premiered at Munich’s National Theater.

Korngold came to Hollywood in the 1930s and wrote scores for 17 classic films, including a number starring Errol Flynn. Korngold, in his thick Austrian accent, called those action films “SVASH-booklers”. Korngold’s contract let him retain all rights to his music, and in the 1940s he began recycling bits of film scores into concert works, like a 1945 Violin Concerto, written for Jascha Heifetz.

Despite early fame in Europe and success in Hollywood, after World War II, Korngold’s music started to seem old-fashioned and fell into neglect, but two decades after his death in 1957, a major Korngold revival began, sparking new interest in–and recordings of–his well-crafted and appealing scores.

Music Played in Today's Program

Erich Wolfgang Korngold (1897-1957) The Snowman BBC Philharmonic Orchestra; Matthias Bamert, cond. Chandos 10434

Erich Wolfgang Korngold (1897-1957) The Adventures of Robin Hood film score London Symphony; John Williams, cond. Sony 62788

Additional Information

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