USC Launches Two-Month Celebration of Korngold

Classic Arts News   USC Launches Two-Month Celebration of Korngold
The University of Southern California has launched "Operas Without Singing," an exhibition commemorating the 50th anniversary of the death of Erich Wolfgang Korngold. Presented by the Doheny Library, the eight-week series of events focuses on ten of the composer's film scores.

On September 7, over 100 people, including Korngold's descendants, attended an opening-night reception that showcased rare photographs, original sketches and fully orchestrated scores, correspondence and film memorabilia, most of which are holdings from USC's Warner Brothers archives. The Film Music Society also contributed photographs and Korngold's manuscripts for Anthony Adverse and The Adventures of Robin Hood as well as Captain Blood, Kings Row, The Sea Hawk, A Midsummer Night's Dream and others.

Following the reception was a concert by former and current USC students, who performed such works are Sieben Marchenbilder; songs from opuses 9, 14 and 38; the Piano Trio in D Major and Unverganglichkeit.

Korngold was born in Brno in 1897 and was extremely precocious. His ballet Der Schneemann, composed at age 11, triumphed at its Vienna Court Opera premiere in 1910. His early renown rose to a peak when his opera, Die tote Stadt, finished at 23, received two premieres in Hamburg and Cologne in 1920.

After moving to the U.S. in 1934, Korngold pioneered the symphonic film score, composing acclaimed music for The Sea Hawk and Kings Row and receiving Academy Awards for The Prince and the Pauper, Anthony Adverse and The Adventures of Robin Hood.

Viewing each film as an "opera without singing," with each character having his or her own Leitmotif, Korngold composed soaring and complex contrapuntal melodies patterned after tone poems by Richard Strauss and Franz Liszt; each score was intended to be able to stand alone in performance outside its film context.

A counterpoint to the simultaneous exhibition on Korngold's concert music at Vienna's Jewish Museum, USC's tribute will also include a lecture, four film screenings, and a concert by The Haydn Trio. Visit for more information.

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