• Korngold: The early years



    The three main influences in Korngold's life as a musician were his father Julius, Alexander von Zemlinsky and Gustav Mahler.


    Julius detected the precocious talent of Erich. He got the child to attend the famous teacher Robert Fuchs's class, and Fuchs confessed to Julius that his son was the best student he has found in all his life.

    Julius, a good friend of Mahler, also presented his child to the composer. After a couple of hours with the boy, Mahler declared him a genius. On his side, Erich will always love Mahler's music.

    Advised by Mahler, Erich continues his education with Zemlinsky, with whom he will develop an instant rapport and will name him as "the ideal teacher".

    The first pieces composed by Erich, barely eleven years old, are an immediate success. The ballet Der Schneemann is premiered in 1910 at the Vienna Opera House, with the emperor Franz Joseph attending. Everybody salutes the birth of a new Mozart and a worthy competitor for Richard Strauss.

    Not only a composer, the young Korngold is also a great piano player. At fifteen, with the publication of the Schauspiel Ouvertüre and the Sinfonietta, he is already well known in all Europe.

    However, Erich's greatest interest is Opera. Der Ring des Polykrates and Violanta are very succesful, and singers like Jeritza, Lehmann, Tauver, Piccaver, Selma Kurz,...are performing those pieces all across Austria and Germany. The first bars of Violanta, with this sound world of diffuse harmonies and long melodic phrasing, foreshadow the career and the style of Korngold, who is now leaving his adolescence behind, entering his youth as an established composer at an age as early as Mozart or Rossini.




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