Korngold, Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 35
Erich Korngold (1897-1957) made his mark in two separate musical worlds. In his childhood, his works were praised by composers like Richard Strauss and Gustav Mahler. He was in many ways their heir-apparent in Vienna. At age 14, his first orchestral work was premiered at the Gewandhaus. Bruno Walter conducted Korngold’s first opera in 1916.
As expected, Korngold became one of the leading composers in Europe. And he surely would have continued on that path but for one thing. He was Jewish, and events in Europe were conspiring against him.
In 1934 Korngold agreed to arrange the music for a film version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Warner Bros. snapped him up, and in 1935 he composed the score to the Errol Flynn movie Captain Blood. The film scores would keep coming. He won two Academy Awards for best original score: Anthony Adverse (1936) and The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938).
He initially attempted to balance his work in Vienna and Hollywood, but that became impossible as Nazi Germany took over Austria in 1938 and most of Europe soon after. Korngold would not return to Europe until after the war.
Korngold was one of many renowned composers who migrated to Hollywood to avoid Nazi persecution. Film was entering its heyday, and the cream of European musical talent determined its musical landscape. They brought with them the compositional techniques pioneered by Franz Liszt and Richard Wagner.
Korngold’s Violin Concerto was composed in 1946 and premiered by Jascha Heifetz in 1947.