Erich Wolfgang Korngold

29/05/1897 Brno, 09/11/1957 Los Angeles  

Erich Wolfgang Korngold grew up in Vienna. When he was 12 years of age, Gustav Mahler called him a genius and recommended that he study with Alexander Zemlinsky. In 1910, the Wiener Hofoper staged his ballet Der Schneemann (The Snowman), which became a sensation. In 1920, Korngold composed his most acclaimed stage work, the opera Die tote Stadt (The Dead City). In 1934, the theatre and film director Max Reinhardt invited him to Hollywood to arrange Mendelssohn’s music for the cinematic adaptation of Shakespeare’s comedy A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Korngold duly became a sought-after composer of film scores, which earned him great critical acclaim. He won Academy Awards for Antony Adverse (1936) and The Adventures of Robin Hood(1938), and received Oscar nominations for the music for The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex (1939) and The Sea Hawk (1940). Owing to the Nazi rampage in Europe, he did not return home and stayed in the US, where in 1943 he was granted citizenship. Korngold’s Violin Concerto in D major, dating from 1945, is widely popular today. Following the composer’s death, his music was very rarely performed for a long time – only in recent decades has it been paid increased attention.