Erich Wolfgang Korngold, Composer, 1897 – 1957

Photograph of Erich Wolfgang Korngold, undated

Before Erich Wolfgang Korngold was first called to Hollywood by his fellow Austrian émigré, the actor and director Max Reinhardt, he was a celebrated child prodigy and an up-and-coming composer of serious orchestral music who had had works premiered by artists including Artur Schnabel while he was still a teenager.

Leo Baeck Institute holds some key documents from this period, including a signed, handwritten score of his one-act opera, Violanta. In 1916, when Korngold was only 19 years old, Bruno Walter directed the premiere of Violanta at the Leipzig Gewandhaus.  Korngold presented a handwritten copy of the score to Prinz Leopold von Preussen that is now in the LBI  Archives.

Today Erich Wolfgang Korngold is well-known within the United States as an originator of modern film music who introduced the Wagnerian concept of the leitmotif to scores for the silver screen.  His original scores for Warner Brothers productions like the Errol Flynn vehicles The Adventures of Robin Hood and The Seahawk defined the language of film music for the era.

This handwritten manuscript of one of Korngold's first operas is dedicated “To his highness, Prinz Friedrich Leopold von Preussen, August 1915"

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