The Last Prodigy: A Biography of Erich Wolfgang Korngold by Brendan Carroll

By Brendan Carroll

The sunrise of the twentieth century heralded an age of constant development. by way of expertise, a few of the advances have been for machines of conflict; scarcely a person could have foreseen the bleak destiny of clash that used to be to run till close to the top of the century. The first decade of the hot century additionally observed the emergence of kid prodigy Erich Wolfgang Korngold, whose complex tonal process appeared destined to win him a spot as a tremendous composer. yet simply as prosperity and peace have been absent in the course of a lot of this bothered time interval, Korngold's tune went into eclipse within the Nineteen Thirties and in basic terms lately emerged from the tomb to which it was once consigned through the most present of 20th-century musical idea. Brendan Carroll's first-class biography of this composer who used to be so shabbily neglected via postwar intellectuals is lengthy past due. From the outset, Carroll specializes in the outstanding musical skill proven by way of Korngold. not just did he produce advanced musical compositions from an early age, yet those early compositions are grownup widespread and express the designated idiom of the composer. Like Mozart, Korngold's distinguishing expertise was once an inexhaustible provide of melodic proposal that he skillfully assembled. the most important luck within the Nineteen Twenties of his opera Die Tote Stadt marked Korngold as a peer to Richard Strauss. yet through the '30s the dissonant tide used to be working opposed to him. not able to give up melody and concord, he used to be branded a reactionary by way of the haute monde, and scorned as a Jew via the Nazis. thankfully, his aptitude for romanticism earned him Hollywood commissions for a sequence of memorable films--and, by the way, stored his lifestyles through getting him out of Europe in the course of a severe interval. but if the smoke of worldwide battle II cleared, certainly one of the casualties was once curiosity in his severe musical oeuvre. Carroll pinpoints 3 elements that contributed to Korngold's fall into obscurity: controversies generated by way of his father, the critic Julius Korngold; suppression of performances through the Nazis; and the hostility of the intense musical institution. notwithstanding, he turns out to weight them both, and maybe during this he errs. Korngold's father's impression at the Viennese track international waned by way of the top of the '20s, and the 3rd Reich lasted simply 12 devastating years. essentially the dominant think about the suppression of Korngold's track was once the disdain of the artwork crowd for a composer who wrote motion picture (gawd!) tune, and who would not kiss the e-book and claim serialism as his own savior. fortunately for Korngold and his lovers, because the century nears its finish, composition has eventually damaged the dogmatic bonds of the "music of the future." No higher signal exists of this than the renaissance in Korngold recordings within the Nineties, and the respectful if belated rehabilitation of his acceptance betokened by means of a publication like Carroll's. this can be a balanced quantity worth examining for someone who's drawn to this heavily underrated composer. --Sarah Bryan Miller

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Extra resources for The Last Prodigy: A Biography of Erich Wolfgang Korngold

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The interruption of the Archduke's procession caused a considerable stir and was duly reported. Later, Erich dedicated his Sieben Märchenbilder for piano, Opus 3, to the Archduke in gratitude for his patronage. From Salzburg, the Korngolds proceeded to Munich to attend the premiere of Mahler's Symphony No. 8 in E-flat, the "Symphony of a Thousand," which was scheduled for 12 September, and also to attend another festival of French music dedicated to further rapprochement between the two nations.

As to modernity and virility of style, the only analogy that springs to my mind is that of the young Handel. Arthur Nikisch,10 the great conductor, wrote in a similar vein: This is totally phenomenal. I am really excited about these piecesthat is, about the pieces themselves, without the restrictive consideration that an eleven-year-old boy has written them.  . honestly, one does not know what to admire most!  . May the Almighty grant good health to this blessed human being. One need not worry about anything else.

When Korngold played the piano, it sounded as though he did play an orchestra, such was the overwhelming effect. The regrettably few recordings he made often give the definite impression of more than one player. Like those of many great pianists, his transcriptions were always favorite encores. Especially famous was his version of the waltz sequence from Der Rosenkavalier. Once, on the radio, after Korngold had played this exuberantly, the announcer made a memorable but highly apt slip of the tongue: You have just heard a Bösendorfer piano wounded in the paraphrase of Richard Strauss's Rosenkavalier Waltz by Erich W.

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