Erich Wolfgang Korngold
Erich Wolfgang Korngold
This work was followed by a piano trio, then by his second piano sonata, which Artur Schnabel played throughout Europe. During his early years Korngold also made player-piano music rolls for the Aeolian Duo-Art system, all of which survive today. Korngold wrote his first orchestral score, the Schauspiel Ouverture when he was fourteen. His Sinfonietta appeared the following year, and his first two operas, Der Ring des Polykrates and Violanta, in 1914. He completed his opera Die tote Stadt, which became an international success, in 1920 at the age of twenty-three.
At this point Korngold had reached the zenith of his fame as a composer of opera and concert music. Composers such as Richard Strauss and Giacomo Puccini heaped praise on him, and many famous conductors, soloists, and singers added his works to their repertoires. He completed a concerto for piano left hand for pianist Paul Wittgenstein in 1923, and his fourth opera, Das Wunder der Heliane four years later. He also started arranging and conducting operettas by Johann Strauss II and others while teaching opera and composition at the Vienna Staatsakademie.
Korngold was awarded the title professor honoris causa by the president of Austria Reinhardt, with whom Korngold had collaborated on the operas Die Fledermaus and La belle Hélène, asked the composer to go to Hollywood in 1934 to adapt Felix Mendelssohn's incidental music for A Midsummer Night's Dream for his film version of the play. Over the next four years, Korngold became a pioneer in composing film scores that have been recognised ever since as classics of their kind. In 1938, hewas conducting opera in Austria when he was asked by Warner Brothers to come back to Hollywood and compose a score for their new (and very expensive) film The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938), starring Errol Flynn. He agreed and returned by ship.
Shortly after he arrived in California, the Anschluss took place and the condition of Jews in Austria became very perilous, so he stayed in America. Korngold later said that the film score of The Adventures of Robin Hood saved his life. He won the Academy Award for Best Original Score for the film, and was later nominated for The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex (1939) and The Sea Hawk (1940). In 1943 Korngold became a naturalised citizen of the United States.
The year 1945 became an important turning point in Korngold's life. His father, who had never been entirely comfortable in Los Angeles, and who had never approved of his son's decision to focus exclusively on film composition, died after a lengthy illness. At about the same time the war in Europe drew to an end. Korngold himself had grown increasingly disillusioned with Hollywood and with the kinds of films he was being given to score, and he was eager to return to writing music for the concert hall and the stage.
He stopped writing original film scores after 1946. His final score at Warner Bros. was Deception. However, he was asked by Republic Pictures to adapt the music of Richard Wagner for a film biography of the composer, released as Magic Fire (1955).
Korngold also wrote some original music for the film, and had an unbilled cameo as the conductor Hans Richter. After World War II Korngold continued to write concert music in a rich, chromatic late Romantic style, with the Violin Concerto among his notable later works. Korngold died in North Hollywood on 29th November 1957, and was buried at Hollywood Forever Cemetery. Read more on Last.fm. User-contributed text is available under the Creative Commons By-SA License; additional terms may apply..
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