When Europe came to Hollywood

The romantic sounds of Korngold – and George Antheil! In this episode of American Highways, pianist Guy Livingston brings us the composers who defined Hollywood in the 1930s – European-trained musicians who brought a rich, passionate sound to California.

Within just a few years, this lush orchestral sound would come to define Hollywood music – and no one more so than Korngold helped to create this new sound. No one in America imagined his debt to Strauss and the music of the Austro-Hungarian empire.

Why would American movie makers have been so attracted to this sound? What about it was quintessentially American? (almost nothing) Why did Korngold’s use of leitmotivs catch on in a way his hero Strauss could not have imagined? And then, after it was all over (decades later), why did Korngold’s music languish in obscurity, branded reactionary and kitsch by the critics? Perhaps Hollywood just used up all the remaining credit that this musical style retained. Probably Hollywood liked it for the wrong reasons. And now, the rich Korngold sound is experiencing a comeback, as his music finds favor among movie buffs and the classical public alike.

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American Highways #23


Theme Music :
Steve Reich. The Desert Music (1984)
First Movement (Fast).
Chorus of the Brooklyn Philharmonic, Members of the Brooklyn Philharmonic, Michael Tilson Thomas & William Carlos Williams.
Nonesuch Records 79101.

Erich Wolfgang Korngold
1. Cello Concerto, Op. 37


BBC Philharmonic Orchestra; Peter Dixon, Cello; Matthias Bamert, conducting.
Chandos 10433 (1996)

George Antheil
Sonata No. 4 (1948)
2. Allegro Giocoso (5:13)
3. Andante (5:41)
4. Vivo (3:39)
Guy Livingston, pianist.
Wergo 6661-2

Erich Wolfgang Korngold
5. Piano Concerto for the Left Hand in C Sharp Minor, Op. 17
BBC Philharmonic Orchestra; Howard Shelley, piano; Matthias Bamert, conducting.
Chandos 10433 (1996)


a still from Robin Hood, for which Korngold won an Oscar



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