• Korngold's heritage


    Korngold's reputation as a composer is growing again. But there were two major obstacles in the way.

    First, of course, his work as a soundtrack composer for Hollywood. He was really great doing this, and some of those soundtracks are as good as his orchestral pieces.

    Curiously, Korngold was criticized because he was not orchestrating his music for the movie screen (Hugo Friedhofer was doing this, mostly), but this was just standard practice in the Hollywood of the period. Almost no composer, except for Bernard Herrmann, was orchestrating his own soundtracks. Clearly enough, though, Korngold already proved as a young man that he was the equal of any composer at the hour of orchestrate a piece.

    The other obstacle was his indifference to avant-garde music. Korngold always used his trademark postromantic style (this 'last breath of Viennese Romanticism, that will for always live in our hearts', as saluted by one of the few critics loving Korngold), and never even considered using any avant-garde technique. Today, we can enjoy at the same time the music of Schönberg, Webern, Berg, Krenek,... and that of Schreker, Strauss, Korngold,.. but in the 1950s there was a division line between the 'chosen' and the 'pagans'. A ridiculous situation, but relatively frequent in the history of Art.


    Not that Korngold himself was innocent of partisanship. This was his opinion, in 1952:

    I believe that my newly completed symphony will show the world that atonality and ugly dissonance at the price of giving up inspiration, form, expression, melody and beauty will result in ultimate disaster for the art of music

    Let's hear this "newly completed symphony", written in F sharp major:



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