Symphony opener features ‘Hollywood concerto’ of Erich Korngold

Jim Lundstrom

Classic film fans will want to attend Saturday’s season-opening concert of the Duluth Superior Symphony Orchestra, for it features the Violin Concerto of Erich Wolfgang Korngold, a master musical storyteller through his film scores for movies from the golden age of Hollywood.

Korngold started his life as a Mozart-like child prodigy in Vienna. Born in 1897, his first musical success came at the age of 11 when he wrote music for a ballet, The Snowman. His musicianship gained the attention of established musicians such as Richard Strauss and Gustav Mahler.

By 1916 Koengold had written several one-act operas that premiered in Munich, conducted by Bruno Walter.

And then the Nazis came to power.

Korngold was lured to Hollywood by his Viennese friend Max Reinhardt, who was filming A Midsummer Night’s Dream and wanted Korngold to re-orchestrate the score Felix Mendelssohn had written for an 1843 stage production.

Korngold was nominated four times for Oscars for his scores, winning twice, for Anthony Adverse in 1936 and The Adventures of Robin Hood in 1938.

He is said to have approached film scoring the same as he would compose an opera, assigning a leitmotif to each character, or as biographer Brendan G.Carroll wrote: “Treating each film as an ‘opera without singing’ (each character has his or her own leitmotif) [Korngold] created intensely romantic, richly melodic and contrapuntally intricate scores, the best of which are a cinematic paradigm for the tone poems of Richard Strauss and Franz Liszt. He intended that, when divorced from the moving image, these scores could stand alone in the concert hall. His style exerted a profound influence on modern film music.”

Korngold’s Violin Concerto has been described as a “Hollywood concerto” for he mined and recycled themes from four of his film scores for the concerto, including the 1937 romantic melodrama Another Dawn, the 1939 historical epic Juarez, the 1936 Oscar-winning score for Anthony Adverse, and, finally, the last movement is based on the main theme from the 1937 The Prince and the Pauper.

Korngold’s Violin Concerto had its debut in St. Louis in 1947, with the great Jascha Heifetz taking the lead. DSSO Concertmaster Erin Aldridge takes the lead violin role Saturday night.

The concert opens with Adolphus Hailstork’s muscular 1985 American Port of Call, and concludes with Brahms’ equally muscular Symphony No. 1, which premiered when he was 43 years old, but was inspired by first hearing Beethoven’s 9th when he was 21 years old –it even contains a reference to "Ode to Joy" in the final movement.

Below is a list of all the films scored by Erich Korngold.
A Midsummer Night’s Dream, 1935
Captain Blood, 1935
Give Us This Night, 1936
Anthony Adverse, 1936
The Green Pastures, 1936
Hearts Divided, 1936
Another Dawn, 1937
The Prince and the Pauper, 1937
The Adventures of Robin Hood, 1938
Juarez, 1939
The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex, 1939
The Sea Hawk, 1940
The Sea Wolf, 1941
Kings Row, 1942
The Constant Nymph, 1943
Between Two Worlds, 1944
Deception, 1946
Devotion, 1946
Of Humam Bondage, 1946
Escape Me Never, 1947
Adventures of Don Juan, 1948
Magic Fire, 1955
Single tickets for the concert start at $10 for students and military, $20 for regular seating.
Single tickets are on sale through the DSSO Box Office at 218-623-3776 or at

For more information on the concerts, please

All concerts take place at the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center in downtown Duluth.