Korngold, Erich Wolfgang

Korngold, Erich Wolfgang, 1897–1957, American composer of film and concert music and opera, b. Brünn, Austria-Hungary (now Brno, Czech Republic). He began composing ballet music and operas in his teens, and his opera Die tote Stadt (The Dead City, 1920) was acclaimed in Europe. He subsequently revived the operettas of Johann Strauss the younger and Offenbach, and collaborated with producer-director Max Reinhardt. In the mid-1930s, beginning with his arrangement of Mendelssohn's music for Hollywood's A Midsummer Night's Dream (1935), he began dividing his time between Europe and the United States. His scores for the films Anthony Adverse (1936) and The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938) won Academy Awards. Through his use of theme motifs and leitmotifs for the characters in his film scores, Korngold became a major influence on modern film composers. His other compositions include the operas Der Ring des Polykrates (1914), Violanta (1916), and Das Wunder der Heliane (1927), the frequently performed Violin Concerto (1937, rev. 1945), and his only symphonic work, Symphony in F-Sharp, which draws from his film scores.

See biography by B. G. Carroll (1997); D. Goldmark and K. Karnes, eds., Korngold and His World (2019).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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