“Music is music whether composed for the stage, the conductor’s desk or for the cinema. The form can change and the method of notation can be different, but the composer cannot make any compromises in what he considers to be his musical convictions.”
Erich Wolfgang Korngold (1897 – 1957) doesn’t really need an introduction as his compositions for the cinema are legendary. But not enough people by far know his beautiful art songs.
He was born in what today is Brno in the Czech republic, but what was then a part of Austria. Exceptionally talented even when compared to other infant prodigies, he started taking lessons with Zemlinsky at the age of nine. When he was thirteen, his first ballet was premiered at the Vienna court opera. Nobody thought he’d actually written it. At the age of 23, his opera “Die Tote Stadt” was a hit all over Europe and he started teaching composition and opera at the Viennese State Academy.
He had worked in Hollywood before in 1934, and as the world war II broke out when he was there again, he decided to stay away from home. Four Oscar nominations for best film music and two awards for “best original score” show his success in forming and co-founding the rich “Hollywood sound”. Korngold never was “big in Europe” again after the war, as his luscious late romantic style had become “old fashioned”. Good for us, this trend is definitely over.