Austrian-born American composer and conductor Erich Wolfgang Korngold was born in what is now the Czech city Brno on 29 May 1897 into a musical Jewish family - his father Julius Korngold was a well-known music critic. Erich was a child prodigy, playing four-hand piano music aged five with his father. At eleven, he wrote the ballet The Snowman which caused a sensation at the Vienna Court Opera. During his teens he continued to compose, and also made live recordings using player piano music rolls.
Korngold's opera Die tote Stadt was successful, and he conducted it at many European opera houses. His interest in the music of Johann Strauss the Younger resulted in various Korngold Strauss re-creations using new concepts of orchestration and staging, and these brought him to the attention of theatre director Max Reinhardt, who collaborated with him on various productions. The 1920s were Korngold's most successful years in Europe, and by 1931 he was a professor at the Vienna State Academy.
Reinhardt asked Korngold to move to the USA in 1934 to write film music, as the Nazi regime was on the rise, and this led to a series of Romantic style scores for sixteen Hollywood films, including Reinhardt's A Midsummer Night's Dream (1935), Captain Blood (1935) and two Oscar-winners: Anthony Adverse (1936) and The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938).
Korngold is considered to be one of the founders of film music, alongside Alfred Newman and Max Steiner.
Korngold retired from film work in 1947 and, during his last ten years, wrote a series of concert works, including the popular Violin Concerto and his only symphony - probably the only well-known symphony to be written in the key of F sharp major. He died, aged sixty, in Los Angeles on 29 November 1957. By this time his compositions had rather lost popularity, but his music regained interest from the 1970s onwards.
Ensemble. A Worthy Venture - Adam J Sacks reports on two Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra concerts
CD Spotlight. A Spectacular Release - Gerald Fenech listens to film music played by John Wilson and the Sinfonia of London. '... an absolutely rewarding hour ...'
Ensemble. Stunningly Staged and Sung - Longborough Festival Opera's 'Die tote Stadt', extolled by Roderic Dunnett
CD Spotlight. A Glorious Operatic Triumph - Gerald Fenech listens to Korngold's 'Die tote Stadt'. '... Klaus Florian Vogt and Camilla Nylund rise superbly to the occasion with some searing interpretations worthy of the score.'
Ensemble. Modern Madrigals in the Seventeenth Century - Giuseppe Pennisi listens to vocal music by Gesualdo and some of his contemporaries
CD Spotlight. Noble Grief - Music from Leonard Slatkin and his family, heard by Gerald Fenech. '... legendary renditions full of mesmerizing violin playing ...'
CD Spotlight. Great Entertainment - SOMM Recordings' second volume of film music, enjoyed by Gerald Fenech. 'Iain Sutherland and his Promenade players display no want of energy and each track is tackled with effervescence and enthusiasm, making the music sound even more exciting than it was thought to be.'
CD Spotlight. Highly Enjoyable - Gerald Fenech listens to film music played by Iain Sutherland and the Philharmonic Promenade Orchestra. '... brought to light with the utmost conviction.'
Ensemble. A Soothing Balm on our Troubled Time - Maria Nockin connects to Renée Fleming and Robert Ainsley's Metropolitan Opera recital from the Dumbarton Oaks Museum music salon in Washington DC
CD Spotlight. A Powder-keg of Uncontrolled Passions - Gerald Fenech is impressed with this new recording of Korngold's 'Violanta'. '... Pinchas Steinberg's insightful reading draws some hot-blooded singing and playing.'
CD Spotlight. A Korngold Renaissance - Giuseppe Pennisi reviews a four CD set of music by the Austrian-born composer. 'The wholeness of this anthology is admirable.'
CD Spotlight. Hard to Resist - Johann Strauss Junior's 'Eine Nacht in Venedig', arranged by Erich Wolfgang Korngold and heard by Gerald Fenech. 'Marius Burkert and his fine team of soloists and chorus exude a performance that has subtlety and charm, and the vivid freshness of Korngold's arrangement is brought out with a wistful elan ...'
Ensemble. 'Music Makes a Town' - Anett Fodor reports from the opening gala of the 2019 Bartók Plus Opera Festival
CD Spotlight. Two Fine Violinists - Stephen Francis Vasta listens to music by Erich Wolfgang Korngold. 'Even the Violin Concerto ends with a downward chordal scale that 'resolves' to a dissonance, "à la" Charles Ives!'
CD Spotlight. A Heady Immediacy - Orchestral music by Erich Wolfgang Korngold impresses Gerald Fenech. 'Rohde and his forces dish out some truly magisterial interpretations full of spirited playing and athletic grace ...'
Ensemble. Balletic Energy - Britten, Korngold and Berlioz from Vilde Frang, Nicholas Collon and the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra impresses Mike Wheeler
CD Spotlight. Alternative Worlds - Jewish cabaret music surprises Gerald Fenech. '... those who decide to take the plunge will be rewarded with riches aplenty.'
CD Spotlight. The OK Guys - Korngold's 'The Adventures of Robin Hood', impresses the late Howard Smith. 'The Moscow players appear right at home with this rousing score ...'
Ensemble. Hugely Enjoyable - Mike Wheeler listens to the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
CD Spotlight. Musical Rebellion - Composers displaced by the Third Reich, heard by Howard Smith. '... piano music of singular merit.'
DVD Spotlight. Battle of Wills - Erich Korngold's 'Die Tote Stadt', reviewed by Robert Anderson. '... production and performance are in the safe hands of the Finnish National Opera ...'
Ensemble. Seated on a Cloud - Vadim Gluzman and the London Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Vassily Sinaisky, reviewed by Bill Newman
CD Spotlight. Diversely Exhilarating - Cheryl Barker pays tribute to Joan Hammond, heard by Howard Smith. '... four recital items have the ideal accompanist in Timothy Young ...'
DVD Spotlight. A Disparate Experiment - 'Aria - Special Edition', reviewed by Howard Smith. 'You never know what you're gonna get.'
Ensemble. For King, Country and Sex - Marco Tutino's 'Senso', experienced by Giuseppe Pennisi
Ensemble. Mix-and-match - Ensembles from the Royal Northern College of Music, heard by Mike Wheeler
CD Spotlight. Marvelously Incisive - Rózsa and Korngold violin concertos, recommended by Howard Smith. '... breathtaking virtuosity from soloist and orchestra alike.'
CD Spotlight. Musical Finesse - Songs by Gregg Kallor, recommended by Howard Smith. 'Go to the top of the class.'
CD Spotlight. A Delight - Philippe Quint plays Korngold's Violin Concerto, heard by Patric Standford. '... his emotional command is convincing.'
Ensemble. Grandly Romantic - Vadim Gluzman on stage with the Boca Raton Symphonia, reviewed by Lawrence Budmen
Committed and Tough - Malcolm Troup plays Bloch's Piano Sonata, appreciated by Julian Jacobson
Ensemble. Telling Power - Malcolm Miller attends the final concert in a series devoted to music by banned composers
Ensemble. Distant Sound - LA Opera's 'Recovered Voices', reviewed by Maria Nockin
Mozart matinées - A Salzburg Festival preview, by Tess Crebbin
CD Spotlight. A commanding spirit - Chamber music from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, appreciated by Patric Standford. '... beautifully recorded and artistically stimulating.'
Record Box - Instant Blend - Weigl the unknown, with Basil Ramsey