Erich Wolfgang Korngold (1897 – 1957) whose Violin Concerto will be featured on the program for Masterworks 6: Golden Glamour, is a representative of the last gasp of late romanticism in Vienna. A true child prodigy, his works were performed publicly in Vienna by the time he was 11 (although the fact that his father was the music critic for Vienna’s most prestigious newspaper, New Freie Presse, may have helped).

Initially renowned for his operas, Korngold’s enduring legacy lies in his groundbreaking film music, catalyzed by his move to Hollywood in 1934 at the urging of director Max Reinhardt. Hollywood adored Korngold – he saw film as the true successor to the operatic stage, and his success was phenomenal. He won two Oscars for his work on 1936’s Anthony Adverse and 1938’s Robin Hood.

Korngold’s Violin Concerto, which will be played by esteemed violinist Blake Pouliot, exemplifies his unique fusion of classical and cinematic influences. While themes from his film scores permeate the concerto, Korngold skillfully molds them to fit the traditional conventions of classical concertos. The result is a work that transcends mere “movie music,” boasting technical brilliance and emotional depth while paying homage to Viennese Romanticism.

As one listens to Korngold’s Violin Concerto, it can be fun to note how many themes and passages immediately call to mind the musical conventions we have come to associate with certain kinds of film action. We make these associations based on countless hours of movie going, during which the “musical language” has implanted itself in our minds and affects our emotional responses.

Click on the video below to hear Blake Pouliot play the second movement of the concerto with piano accompaniment. Listen for that “musical language” here – known for evoking romance and nostalgia, what sense of atmosphere or place does this piece evoke for you?

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