Jewish Music & Poetry Project

Poets & Musicians

Erich Korngold, composer

Erich Korngold (1897-1957) was born in Moravia, although his family moved to Vienna when he was 6.  A child prodigy, he studied there with Fuchs and then Zemlinsky after Gustave Mahler heard the young composer’s cantata in 1906 and immediately called him a genius. Best known today for his pioneering Hollywood film scores—his 1938 score to The Adventures of Robin Hood won an Academy Award and his 1936 score to Anthony Averse won an Oscar—Korngold composed his well-known opera Die Tote Stadt, at the age of 23 and is a towering figure in the world of film music. After being invited by Warner Brothers to California in 1934, he spent the next few years between Austria and the U.S., barely escaping the Anschluss in 1938 and becoming an American citizen. After the war, his lyrical, Romantic style was deemed old-fashioned, but in the last quarter century or so, his works have, fortunately, come back into favor.