19 july mixed korngold 1

The Escher String Quartet, photo Sarah Skinner

Erich Wolfgang Korngold isn’t exactly a household name. But if you’re a fan of Errol Flynn, you’ve certainly heard his music.

Korngold (1897-1957) was a die-hard romanticist, something that served him well when he was enlisted to re-orchestrate Felix Mendelssohn’s incidental music for Max Reinhardt’s 1935 film adaption of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. The son of a music critic, Korngold wrote a ballet, The Snowman (Der Schneemann), when he was nine. He was an established and popular composer by the time he turned 17, earning accolades from Gustav Mahler and Richard Strauss. His opera The Dead City (Die tote Stadt) became a hit in 1920, seemingly solidifying his popularity.

As the political situation in Europe deteriorated, he moved from Vienna to Hollywood permanently in 1937 and was awarded with an exclusive contract to write for Warner Bros. Korngold eventually wrote some 20 film scores, earning Academy Awards for his work on the Fredric March/Olivia de Havilland vehicle Anthony Adverse (1936) and The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938), starring Errol Flynn. While in Hollywood, he continued writing music for the concert hall, though enthusiasm for his romantic style waned after World War II.

The fluidity and emotional content of Korngold’s concert works are cinematic in their range, and thematic material was often shared between his film and concert pieces. This is especially true in Korngold’s String Quartet No. 3 in D Major, Op. 34, the most deeply felt of the three string quartets and one that shares certain themes with Korngold’s tense, dramatic film score for The Sea Wolf (1941). The piece will be performed by the Escher Quartet at noon on Tuesday, July 23, at the New Mexico Museum of Art, 107 W. Palace Ave. Tickets are $33, 35 and under $15, youth 6 to 18 $10.

Korngold’s Piano Quintet in E Major, Op. 15 dates to 1923. Its enchanting three movements carry some of the playfulness heard in Mendelssohn’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. See it, with Haochen Zhang on piano, at 6 p.m. on July 31, also at the New Mexico Museum of Art. Tickets are $38-$77, 35 and under $15, youth 6 to 18 $10.

For tickets and information, call 888-221-9836, ext.102, or 505-982-1890; or go to santafechambermusic.com 


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