The sounds of Hollywood are found throughout this enduring concerto. John Banther and Evan Keely show you moments in the music to listen for, how Korngold does things differently, which movies ended up in this concerto, and discuss why this concerto has remained so popular!

Show Notes

Two fantastic performances of Korngold's Violin Concerto!


Ray Chen with the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra and Patrik Ringborg conducting.

Stella Chen with the Belgian National Orchestra and Antony Hermus conducting. 

A medley of Hollywood film scores by Erich Korngold




John Banther: I'm John Banther, and this is Classical Breakdown. From WETA Classical in Washington, we are your guide to classical music. In this episode, I'm joined by WETA Classical's Evan Keely, and we're exploring one of the most popular concertos of the 20th century, the Violin Concerto by Erich Korngold. It's loved by audiences, but more importantly, by soloists. We explore the unique sounds of this work, show you what to listen for, and talk about the position the composer found himself in after fleeing fascism in the 1930s. Plus, you might be surprised at just how influential Korngold was and continues to be.

There are a few, if any, concertos quite like this one by Erich Korngold. To me, it doesn't sound like any other, and it resonates with us today in a way that I think is unique among concertos this music. It really feels like it's from our time and place so to speak. He died decades before I was born, but his music still sounds very familiar and relatable in a way. Well, I don't think another concerto can from another century. And if you don't know, this concerto or who even Korngold is, keep listening because I haven't met someone yet that actually dislikes this concerto, and you might be surprised at how influential Korngold was and continues to be. Plus, we'll have an interesting listener email at the end regarding Germaine Tailleferre. So Evan, who was Korngold a bit, and how did he end up in the United States at all here? I mean, hopefully we'll do a whole episode on him in the future, but how did he get here?


Evan Keely: Yeah, Korngold was born in Austria in 1897. He was a child prodigy musically. By the time he began his adulthood, he was already a big star as a composer. His third opera, Die tote Stadt, had simultaneous premieres in two different cities-


John Banther: Wow.


Evan Keely: On the same day because his music was so much in demand. I think he was in his early twenties at that point. In 1934, he came to the United States. He was invited to work on a film score, and that developed a relationship between him and Hollywood, which ended up saving his life because you look at what's going on in Europe in the 1930s, he's born and raised in a Jewish family, and so he manages to escape the Third Reich by coming to the US and becoming a film composer. And during the war, he vowed that he wouldn't write any other concert music until the Nazis and Hitler were defeated, and he kept that promise. He composed this violin concerto in 1945, probably started working art in the late '30s. And interestingly enough, John, it's dedicated to Alma Mahler, the spouse of Gustav Mahler.


John Banther: Yes, that was interesting to see, and he really did keep that promise of not well writing stage music until the Nazis and Hitler were defeated. And in these years between, he really takes off as a film composer, really helping to form that Hollywood sound that we know. He wrote over 20 film scores, several were nominated and won Academy Awards for best original score, and he continues to inspire composers today.


Evan Keely: Yeah, he even had a whole different way of thinking about film music that ended up being very influential. The music really becoming more part of the story. He had been successful, as I was saying, as an opera composer, and he often referred to his film scores as operas without words. So he had a real theatrical sense, and that's important as we look at this concerto.


John Banther: Yes, and we'll see how all of that plays out here in his music. Now getting into the first movement, I was actually remembering one of our early episodes with Michelle Merrill where she was telling us, well, what does a conductor do? And she talked about how you don't want to start a rehearsal for the first time or a piece and then stop right after the first couple of notes. But unfortunately, that's exactly what I have to do right now because there is so much happening in just the first measure.

Even just that much, there's just so much happening. I've tried to make it into just three quick points on what I'm hearing here. Well, first off, did the entrance sound a little sloppy or uneven? It's almost like a live recording in which maybe it was the first night and not everyone was paying attention or something. So what about a different recording?

We can find other ones that start, well, pretty much exactly together and I guess, well, which is correct? Is one right or wrong? Well, in the music, Korngold puts this squiggly vertical line next to the cello and harp entrances at the beginning. This means they are to roll the chords, the notes that are stacked on top of each other in the music. Like strumming a guitar slowly, not all the notes are speaking at once, and it's not rhythmically defined in the music which gives us this sound. It's indeterminate, a little messy. The violin comes in after they start, well, playing these opening notes, and it's different for every recording and every performance. I think I prefer actually the messy indeterminate sound myself.


Evan Keely: Yeah, I feel the same way, John, and you were saying at the beginning how this concerto continues to resonate. This piece is almost a hundred years old and it still sounds fresh, and I agree with that. And one of the things I think that contributes to that is this messy, this almost improvisatory sound. It keeps this vitality and freshness. It really, it gets your attention really from the beginning in a way that's quite exciting. And again, as we were saying, this great film composer really had a sense of drama and pacing, and it's almost like he's telling a story even though this is surely absolute music. There's no program, but it feels like it's taking us into some kind of a story, some kind of an epic almost with this messy beginning, what's going to happen next? What's the stage being set to tell us about?


John Banther: Yes, improvisatory, especially that it sounds like it's all being weaved in front of us. The second point here, just on this first measure, he starts the solo violin part right away, there's no introduction from the orchestra, and it's kind of like in arpeggio. Now we're in the key of D major, and an arpeggio would be D, F- sharp, A for example. But he doesn't start on D. He starts plays an A, and then a D, and then an A, and then another D. So first, using an arpeggio to start a concerto, that's old as time. Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven. I mean, it's so common to my ears it sounds like, well, if you don't know how to start a piece, well, just start with an arpeggio and move on from there.


Evan Keely: Right. We're just announcing this is what key we're in, here we go.


John Banther: Yes. So Korngold does this in a way that's like a fun house mirror. It's slightly off, it sounds slightly different. And the way he uses these notes allows him to do something really nice a moment later where instead of another A, he plays a G- sharp, a tritone away from our key of D so it could sound dissonant or colorful, then there's a descending whole tone scale, and you do not need to know what any of those things even mean. You hear how the color is changing in the music, he's adding lots of notes right away that aren't in the key of D major, but it sounds so much nicer than it would maybe appear on the page. You might think it sounds a little more crunchy.


Evan Keely: Yeah, that G- sharp in particular, it's like this wrong note that sounds right.


John Banther: Yes.


Evan Keely: I don't know how else to describe it.


John Banther: And the third point here is about the introduction or maybe no introduction. We've talked so many times about these, how composers can make them longer or shorter, how they can set the scene, maybe dispense with them entirely or make them super short. Maybe Beethoven's Third Symphony for example, or a cello concerto by Saint- Saens. But in each of those examples, they sound complete like yes, that's the music, and that's how it was written. With Korngold, in my own imagination, when I hear this and this diffuse opening, it sounds like we're starting in the middle of something, a scene already in motion or opening the door into a lecture that's already in progress, it's a little awkward.

It sounds like there is music that exists before this point, and then Korngold decided maybe at the last minute, you know what? Nevermind, let's all start at letter B, we're not going to play anything before that. So it reminds me in a way of scientists when they say, " Oh, we know such and such particle exists," or something else in nature, but they don't have the direct evidence yet, but they're seeing clues of it everywhere.


Evan Keely: And again, that vagueness, that messiness we were talking about earlier, John, really captures our interest from the very beginning.


John Banther: Yes. So three points there on just this first measure and how much is happening. Well, that Korngold is including. And of course, he's a film composer. We have, well, from the beginning, this theme, it's from the movie Another Dawn, very characteristic sound.


Evan Keely: Right, a melodramatic film. We don't really remember this film today, but you watch clips from it, you can find them on the internet, and orchestras have recorded the soundtrack to these and other Korngold film scores. It's wonderful music in and of itself. In the film, of course, it's painting a very dramatic story, and in this concerto, we separate the music from a story, and what we're left with is just this very strong emotion that is separated from any kind of a specific narrative and becomes this universal expression in a very powerful way.


John Banther: And he's weaving things together in this first minute and a half. There's some spinning sound with the violin, these large leaps. And then when the orchestra enters with the theme, that theme from Another Dawn, and then the violin has statements in between. This sounds huge and otherworldly. Now, the popularity of this work has mostly been driven, I think, the violin soloists by themselves wanting to perform this. There's a very personal connection, it seems well between violinists and this music, and there's a particular part around here that would definitely be a favorite of mine if I was a violinist. You'll notice as well, Evan, in a lot of these entrances, the violin isn't starting on the downbeat.


Evan Keely: Right.


John Banther: Might be starting on the upbeat or on beat two. And then there's this, it creates forward motion, and it's very easy to be overused, but I don't get that here.


Evan Keely: Yeah. Well, we were talking earlier about the kind of tonal ambiguity, that G- sharp at the very beginning, for instance. Rhythmically also, there's a lot in this concerto. Where is the downbeat? What beat are we on? What's the time signature? Everything floats around. You look at the score, it's a little confusing to look at, but when you hear it, it doesn't sound that way at all. It just sounds like this very natural, very flowing experience, everything is exactly where it should be. And it's just one of the remarkable things about Korngold as a composer, he's able to write these very complex, sort of confusing things that sound right.


John Banther: Yeah. Confusing things that sound right, because you look at the score, when I was looking at it, and I never actually really looked at it, you see, oh, that's how that's written out, or that's how that's being done there. And another theme from a movie, one called Juarez, I think it's a love theme. I imagine in 1945 and the 1940s, people in the audience, many of them would've recognized some of these.


Evan Keely: Yeah, I don't know how popular these films were in their day. Some of them, I was saying, like Another Dawn, we don't really watch that movie anymore, but back in the '30s and '40s when Korngold's movies were more popular, you wonder if people, " Oh, I recognize that." Who knows? But again, as I was saying, John, if you separate these themes from the films from which they originated, they represent something very different as absolute music, as music without a program that's still somehow even more compelling.


John Banther: Yes, he's really painting with different brushes, all these different colors into the music. And I love the sound here. Towards the middle of the movement, there's a bass clarinet I think. It's transitional. The sound is being whirled around a bit, but instead of the theme being brought right back in by the soloist, it's done by different instruments with the soloist having these interrupting declarations that feel more sinister, more like a jokester in a maybe dark way. And this all happens before a cadenza for the soloist.

There are several composers I think we can hear within this music. Strauss for one, especially these triplets, those kinds of lines. So Strauss in my mind, he uses them a lot in his music here. And it's something actually that predates his movies even, from his String Quartet No. 1, I believe he uses a lot of these kinds of figures as well.


Evan Keely: Yeah, and you definitely hear that influence, like we were talking about Mahler, another composer who influenced Korngold very much. So Richard Strauss, Gustav Mahler, Korngold is very much in that vein. And he was also very in the music of Johann Strauss. In fact, he even discovered some Johann Strauss scores that had been laid aside or forgotten and was really an expert on the music of Johann Strauss. So this Viennese waltz style, but also the more post- romantic style of a Richard Strauss are both influences that we hear very much in this concerto.


John Banther: And much like Richard Strauss, one of the main points I want people to come away with Korngold is how he's able to point the music in any direction that he wants. If you think of centuries past some of these very big changes in texture or timbre or keys or whatever, they would require a little more preparation from the composer. They would follow steps 1, 2, 3, and 4 before going to it. Or maybe a huge ship that takes a long distance to turn around. Here with Korngold, he picks it up and turns it around and throws it in the other direction.


Evan Keely: Yeah, there's lots of spontaneity, especially in this first movement of this concerto.


John Banther: And after the cadenza, there is this beautiful moment for the entire violin section. They take over the theme before the soloist comes back in, and it's a little bit different. It's not just an entire section playing this theme as they would in a symphony, it's like the section is a soloist themselves, and they're playing with the same style or inflection as the soloist. It's a different sound here than just another section taking over the theme.


Evan Keely: It's a recapitulation that re- emphasizes that main theme in a way that's very effective.


John Banther: Yeah. And so far, you may have noticed the accompaniment here. It's also a bit diffuse in terms of the relationship. If you think of a concerto like by Haydn or Mozart, it's so clear, accompaniment in soloist or even later for something adversarial between orchestra and piano like with Franz Liszt. And I think this frees Korngold up to do, well, more interesting things, especially this moment, it might be hard to hear, but I love how he spends some of the winds around during an ascending entrance of the soloist. It adds a whole new sound to it in a way that reminds me of a Ravel and Bolero. And I really was not joking, Evan, when I was saying that Korngold can turn the orchestra around on a dime. And the final minute of this concerto, when I listen to it, it really feels like it's going to end a certain way. We're going to end maybe more warm, resolute, coming down, and then there's a nice little boom in the cello and bass.


Evan Keely: Right, and that would've worked really well. And yet Korngold tricks us yet again, just as he's been doing throughout this movement from the very beginning with that weird G- sharp that's a wrong note that sounds right, or rhythms that are very ambiguous, but they flow very nicely. And once again, he has this turning on a dime, the spontaneity we've been talking about that just keeps our interest to the very end of the movement.


John Banther: It's only a few seconds that it happens in the final seconds here, but the color and the sinister stabbing and the violence is beautiful. Now, this concerto sounds pretty movie- like, can't deny it. I mean, there's also movie themes in it after all, even though we don't recognize them, maybe. So does this sound movie- like because he was a movie composer or because movie composers copied him in subsequent decades? I think in a sense, in a way I did not realize until really recently, his sound has truly lived on through film composers.


Evan Keely: He remains a very influential film composer. As I was saying earlier, John, he really revolutionized the whole idea of a film score and integrating the music into the story in a way that was much richer than previous composers for films had done, and that really shaped the way a lot of composers since then and to this day, write for film.


John Banther: And John Williams, who I guess would be the Korngold for us today, writing the themes that we've come to know and love, he's not shy about how much Korngold has been an influence on him. And most film composers are pretty open about that as well. I mean, let's just take a moment here from a movie you've probably never heard, Kings Row. Let's listen to a moment of this. Very nice, I like it. Now, how about this by John Williams? I was almost in disbelief when I heard that the first time.


Evan Keely: Yeah, you can't deny that there's a similarity there. And as you said, John, John Williams has been quite outspoken in recognizing and being grateful for the influence of Korngold on his music as a composer. It's fascinating too. We were talking earlier about how Korngold vowed to only write film scores until the Nazis were defeated. But I wonder the extent to which as a film composer, he was thinking to himself, okay, here's this theme that I'm writing for this film. Oh, someday I want to use this for a concerto. Someday I'm going to reuse this kind of music for an opera. He's thinking about the future. It's easy to say, oh, he took this theme in this concerto from this film. But what was he thinking about when he wrote that for that film? Was he thinking about ways in which he would then use this music in the future for concert music? We don't know, but it's a fascinating thing to think about.


John Banther: I think I agree with you on that. He has to have some kind of hope, I imagine, for the future, as well as he's looking back to his home in Austria and seeing what's happened. So I imagine there was some kind of hope and well, being the composer that he was, I'm sure he was tucking away some ideas. I like this, and I think it would work great for maybe this or that.


Evan Keely: Like any great composer, he's not afraid to reuse material and readapt it for other purposes. And we see this going through the ages. You look at a composer like Johann Sebastian Bach for instance, did that all the time. So we don't need to worry about a lack of originality. It's just a composer being creative and finding different ways to say similar things over a period of time in different contexts.


John Banther: And we'll get into the second movement right after this. So we get to the second movement now, which he calls a romance or a romanza. This opens a little lower in sound. It feels relaxed. There's this droning to it. And there's a little bit of unique timbre here as well with the addition of vibraphone to some of these sustained chords. And when the soloist comes in, they are quite high. Again, not entering on a downbeat. And it sounds like they are just floating above the orchestra.


Evan Keely: And again, there's that rhythmic ambiguity, which is a characteristic of Korngold's style. You look at the score, and I mean, John, you and I both went to music school. I look at this score, there's all these triplets and ties, and you come in on an offbeat, and I'm sitting there with tapping my pencil on the desk trying to reproduce the rhythm. It took me a few minutes. And when you listen to it, it just sounds like the most natural thing, like a person walking down the street would whistle this tune. It doesn't sound like this overly intellectual thing. And Korngold has this gift of creating these very sophisticated and complex things, which just sounds so natural.


John Banther: And even though this is a middle, slow movement, this is not any easier. As you were just saying, there's a lot to take care of with the rhythms. And also, if you play them exactly precisely like a robot, that's not going to sound nice either. There has to be a natural ebb and flow to it.


Evan Keely: Well, as you was saying, John, a lot of soloists want to play this concerto. And having to adapt those rhythmic ambiguities in a way that sounds exciting for an audience is a wonderful and exciting challenge for a soloist, I would think.


John Banther: And what about this being called a romance, which is something he didn't really give a title similar to in the other movements?


Evan Keely: Yeah, that's an old tradition to call something a romance. You think about there's these two works by Beethoven, the Opus 40 and the Opus 50 orchestral work with a violin solo in a single movement. It's very often a slow, lyrical kind of a piece that highlights the soloist. So I think that, I'm pretty sure Korngold is evoking that tradition, which goes back centuries in calling this movement a romanza.


John Banther: And there's a second part of the theme, and it's somewhat rhythmically similar to the first, but we're getting more elaborate here. The harmonic language becomes more complex, and the soloist has us entranced, hanging onto every note. And for me, when I listened to this movement, it reminds me of when you're a kid and you're at the library and they're reading you a story, or in class, I remember those moments and you just, nothing else exists around you. Almost tunnel vision, which are just hung onto every word. Similar here with every note. This is a very active, slow movement. There's not a lot of time to really relax for the soloist even, and even for the listener, we're being brought along every measure, but it doesn't feel like we're having to work hard for it.


Evan Keely: Yeah, there's an edge of the seat quality, and yet we're just trusting the composer to just bring us on this trip that we're eager to go on.


John Banther: About halfway through this movement, there's another moment where it sounds creepy and sinister, and it actually reminded me of Respighi's Pines of Rome.


Evan Keely: Yes.


John Banther: That middle movement where things take on a different hue or feeling. I really feel that here, and I love how he's incorporating that. One other thing that I want to point out that shows how Korngold is just really adept at rhythm and keeping the story going is how he's doing so much by simply moving a note around an octave. There's a point where it's just playing a note and it goes to an octave higher, and then it goes back down. Before in the past, a composer like Schumann for example, would have a sustained note for maybe two or three measures while the piano is building up a phrase or something underneath. And I find something similar here, but he's changing the octave, and rhythmically in a way that adds this forward motion to it and adds intrigue to it that you otherwise would not get.


Evan Keely: And as we've been saying, John, this is a film composer. This is a composer who really has a sense of drama. He has a sense of pacing. There's a theatricality to the music, and it's one of the things I appreciated about this piece. Again, this is absolute music. This is not program music. There's no story. He's not trying to depict a particular scene, but you really feel that sense of him as a dramatist in this music. I don't hear a storyline in this music. One could easily daydream a storyline while listening to this, but I hear in this piece, in this concerto, I hear a composer who understands the use of ideas and themes. He has such a skill in weaving something that just moves the drama forward and keeps us engaged.


John Banther: And in the final moments of this movement, you might think, oh, we're going to get a nice, beautiful repetition of what we heard in the beginning to bring us down gently. But that never really comes quite back, does it?


Evan Keely: Yeah, there's no recap. We just had this very beautiful thing at the very beginning, we're expecting it to come back. I'm expecting it to come back anyway. And it doesn't, and it adds a poignant quality to that thing which we experienced. It was beautiful, and it's gone forever, we move on.


John Banther: And I like that you point that out because it gives me a certain kind of feeling, this movement, how it's active, it doesn't really rest, and there's no recapitulation of that big theme, that first theme at the end. It's like when you go on a walk, there's fields and forests where I live and I go on a walk and it's lots of hills. And maybe 10 or 15 minutes will go by and then don't even really think about it, you turn around and you see where I started was so far away.


Evan Keely: Yeah.


John Banther: And that's how it feels here where musically, we've gone on a long journey away, and that opening theme is really in the distance.


Evan Keely: It's really gone. It's gone forever.


John Banther: Now, what about the premiere of this piece? How did that go? Well, it premiered in February 1947 with the St. Louis Symphony and Jascha Heifetz playing, and it was to great acclaim I understand.


Evan Keely: Yes, Jascha Heifetz was a real advocate for this piece. He had encountered it with, he knew Korngold, and he was very excited to play this piece. Of course, he was already a superstar in that era. So this was a real coup for Korngold as he's returning to life as a concert music composer. And the fact that this premiere went so well was certainly a boost. Played again in New York later on, didn't do quite as well. New York Times called it a Hollywood concerto. There was a music critic in The New York Sun who described it as more Korn than gold, ouch.


John Banther: I mean, honestly, that's a rare win for me for a critic, more Korn than gold. I mean, there's only two ways he came up with that. Either one on the cab ride home. " That stupid concerto, more Korn than gold. More Korn than gold? Irving, your son of a gun, you did it again." That was his name, Irving. Or he got home and his wife is, I think her name was Irma at the table, at reading the newspaper, and he's complaining about it. And then in that kind of accent, " Sounds like more Korn than gold, dear." And then, ah, that's it. So I thought that was kind of funny. I wonder if there was a sense of, I have no idea, East Coast versus West Coast, him coming from Hollywood and LA and New York.


Evan Keely: Yeah, it could be.


John Banther: But obviously their loss, and everyone loves the piece since, but I thought that was funny. And it brings us into the third movement, which is also the shortest movement. It has an explosive opening that sounds like he just copy and pasted it right out of Stravinsky's Firebird. And then the soloist takes off with a jig. This one is so much fun, and it feels like this movement is on rails like a train, like the route is predetermined. It's a kind of music fast, tons of notes, everything happening, musicians. I say it sometimes before you play a piece like this to the person next to you. All right, see you on the other side.


Evan Keely: Yeah, you're boarding the express train and the doors close and off you go.


John Banther: And the theme for this is taken from The Prince and the Pauper, and then, well, it's variations on this theme. We have lots of triplets that cycle through different sequences, again, that reminds me of Richard Strauss. And I want to point out, Evan, a moment towards the beginning that I think it happens a couple of times where the soloist is playing a very, very fast, quick run of notes, staccato short notes, and it happened so fast, you really might need to listen to it. You may not even catch it the first couple of times because soloists are so good at playing this now.

But Korngold writes in the score for this one beat ricochet, and it's a bunch of notes that are so fast. Ricochet means what you think might be happening. The violinist is throwing the bow, so to speak, onto the string, and then using the bow's own recoil to bounce or ricochet off of the string several times in rapid succession, like maybe with a roar on the edge of a table when you're in school making that noise or with your pencil. And it happens in the blink of an eye, and it takes so much practice to make it sound even and natural. But I just love this moment and how fast it goes by.


Evan Keely: I don't know how well Korngold played the violin. He was more of, he was quite a virtuoso pianist, we know that for sure. Clearly, he knows the instrument, he knows the violin, and he understands its capabilities. We often think of the violin. The stereotype is this very sensuous sound, very lyrical, these high notes and these long melodies. And of course, the violin does that beautifully, but it's also a percussion instrument. And having the bow strike the strings in this very percussive way, it really creates this dramatic effect. Again, as you said, John, it takes a real skilled soloist to pull this, Renaud Capucon, whose performance we've been enjoying in this episode certainly has that skill. But it's a very dramatic and exciting effect.


John Banther: And as fast and frenetic and wild as this is, it has to be in control. It has to, well have some kind of balance to it as well. And the orchestral accompaniment you'll hear, it's not heavy. It is quite light, even if it's more swirling around and less delineated like Haydn or Mozart would do. And when I think about movies and film scores and big moments, Evan, I mean, what is the hero? The hero is almost always the horn, like the horn section.


Evan Keely: Oh, yeah.


John Banther: And I like that he saved this moment for later on in the concerto towards the end, because it feels like a huge, well- deserved chaos.


Evan Keely: Yes, the moment you've been waiting for.


John Banther: And even here, how I said the first movement ends a little unexpectedly. It does with this finale, in my opinion as well. It sounds like it might just end on a big bum, just one chord like that. But he gives that Hollywood forte, piano then swells into the final note.


Evan Keely: There's a kind of edginess to this very ending of the piece. There's an almost like a wink of the eye kind of, I don't know how to describe it. It has that same quality that we've talked about throughout the piece where it sounds wrong and yet it's so right.


John Banther: Yeah.


Evan Keely: And he brings that quality through to the very end in a way that's so exciting.


John Banther: And this is a great piece to improve your own listening skills with because there's so many little things happening underneath a soloist or in a swirling, less clear way in the orchestra. So when you listen to this, I mean, I'm still hearing new things when I listen to this. So when you hear this, listen for something different each time, maybe a different section or a different aspect of the music, especially with the finale and all of these things happening at the same time. I mean, this is a wonderful concerto, one of my favorite, and it's not long. It's just the right amount of sweetness, if you will.


Evan Keely: Yeah.


John Banther: So Korngold had a rather unique life and experience, particularly because of, well, him with the movies and fleeing World War II. His other music besides his movie music is also really nice. He wrote things before he was writing for film, and after of course, one of them being string quartets. And you can hear the difference between the ones he wrote before and after he started writing for movies, but it's not that big of a difference as you might think. I was listening to the first one and I thought, oh, maybe this was after he started in Hollywood. And I go and look it up, oh, this was before. And so it was really nice to hear that sound. So I'll put some links on the show notes page for that as well.


Evan Keely: Yeah, this is again, a child prodigy who found his genius early. There's definitely a development of his style over time. But as you said, John, it's not a huge change in his style. He seems to have found his voice early in life and figured out different ways through the vicissitudes of human history and his own life experience to continue to express himself in an authentic way.


John Banther: And I think it's a good cue for us to think of, well, who's writing music for our time and place? What composers are fitting this today? I think there's several composers like Carlos Simon, of course, of course a favorite here in Washington, DC. Michael Giacchino. Caroline Shaw as well. There's a lot of composers who are writing music I think that can resonate with us either musically or at least in the topic that they're writing about.

And with that, it's time to get to that email I mentioned at the beginning of this episode, and it's in response to an episode we did on Germaine Tailleferre. George wrote in, and he was responding to a quote we read from someone really criticizing Tailleferre in a pretty unfair way, comparing her to a dog walking on their hind legs. So we have a portion of this email here, and it really paints a nice picture here, I think, for what we were doing in that episode. So Evan, read us this little bit here that George included.


Evan Keely: I wanted to mention something about the quote you noted from the critic whose name I did not bother remembering. When you read it, a smile came to my face, not because the quote is clever and humorous, which it is, but because I recognized it as something Samuel Johnson said from Boswell's biography of him. "I told him I had been that morning at a meeting of the people called Quakers, where I had heard a woman preach. And Johnson said, 'Sir, a woman's preaching is like a dog's walking on his hind legs. It is not done well, but you are surprised to find it done at all.'" So not only is that critic completely unknown, but the only instance I have ever heard of him came from him lifting what someone else said back in 1791. Anyway, thanks so much for the episode. I listened to all of the podcasts faithfully, and enjoy being entertained and informed.

Cheers, George. Well, George, thank you so much for your feedback. We certainly appreciate you listening to Classical Breakdown.


John Banther: Yes, thank you, George. And I love that we can shame that critic just a little bit more. There was a win for a critic in this episode, so we can even it out here with that. Plagiarism already. All right, well, thank you so much, Evan, for joining me for this and all things Korngold's Violin Concerto.


Evan Keely: Thank you, John. I'm going to continue to explore and appreciate this great concerto by Korngold.


John Banther: Thanks for listening to Classical Breakdown, your guide to classical music. For more information on this episode, visit the show notes page at classicalbreakdown. org. You can send me comments and episode ideas to classicalbreakdown@WETA. org. And if you enjoyed this episode, leave a review in your podcast app. I'm John Banther, thanks for listening to Classical Breakdown from WETA Classical.