Classical Album of the Week: Composer Erich Wolfgang Korngold, Beyond Film Scores

May 11, 2020

May 11, 2020. If you listen to WRTI's weekday feature Flix@5, you're likely familiar with the music of Erich Wolfgang Korngold (1897-1957), whose scores for films include Captain Blood, The Sea Hawk, The Sea Wolf, Kings Row, and Of Human Bondage. Korngold was one of the most important film composers in the history of Hollywood; his music for The Adventures of Robin Hood won him an Academy Award in 1939.

But Korngold was also a serious composer of concert music and opera. As a child prodigy in Austria-Hungary, now the Czech Republic, he impressed both Richard Strauss and Gustav Mahler. In the mid 1930s, he began applying his talents to the film industry in the United States, where he eventually settled in 1938 as the Nazi regime back home became more threatening.

Our Classical Album of the Week showcases Korngold’s only symphony, Symphony in F Sharp Major. It was completed after World War II and dedicated to the memory of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. When it premiered in 1954, it wasn't well-received, and wasn’t performed again until many years later.

This recording is by the Sinfonia of London, directed by John Wilson. Also on the album is Korngold’s Theme and Variations and Straussiana, Korngold's tribute to Johann Strauss, Jr. 

Check out more Classical Albums of the Week.