The Kennedy Center

Erich Wolfgang Korngold


Birth: May 29, 1897, Brünn, Moravia, Austria-Hungary (now, Czech Republic)
Death: Nov 29, 1957 in Hollywood, CA
Erich Wolfgang Korngold, was a highly celebrated Jewish composer and considered to be one of the founders of Hollywood film music.  He is best known for his Academy Award winning compositions for the great film scores of Captain Blood and The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938), starring Errol Flynn.
He was born in Brünn, Moravia, today it is present day Czech Republic, the son of Julius Korngold and Josephine Witrofsky.  His father Dr. Julius Korngold was one of the most influential music critics in Vienna, working for a daily news publication, Neue Freie Presse.
Erich Wolfgang Korngold was one of the most famous child prodigies of all time and a had a book written about his life called, The Last Prodigy, chronicling his early years in imperial Vienna into his career as a composer of film, operas, symphonies and through his escape from the World Wars and Nazis to becoming a Naturalized citizen of the United States in 1943.
As a child prodigy his talent was noticed by many other musicians who encourage and recognized his gift.  At the age of 9 he was sent to study with Robert Fuchs at the Vienna Conservatory.  He came to the notice of Gustav Mahler who declared him a genius and recommended that he study with Alexander von Zemlinsky.  While training under Zemlinsky, he wrote a pantomime, Der Schneemann, which premiered in Vienna in 1910 this lead him to be known as a musical genius.  He continued to compose, and was noticed and admired by Richard Strauss, Paul Wittgenstein, Johann Strauss II, Max Reinhardt and Giacomo Puccini.
In 1924 he married Luise von Sonnenthal nicknamed (Luzi).  In 1934, Erich Wolfgang Korngold moved to the United States.  He moved there to work, he was to arrange and conduct Felix Mendelssohns music for a production of A Midsummer Night's Dream.  While in Hollywood California he signed lucrative contract with Warner Brothers, one of the most generous ever offered a composer in Hollywood during that time.  He worked in Hollywood for over 14 years scoring 17 films, 16 of them for Warner Bros.  He left Hollywood in 1947 and returned to Vienna, after having one of his first heart attacks, he planned to retired.  But, his last film score was for the German made film Magic Fire 1954.  In 1957, he suffered a cerebral thrombosis dying on the 29th of November, at the age of sixty.
Erich Wolfgang Korngold