Korngold & The Prince and the Pauper

Robert J. Mauch and Errol Flynn in The Prince and the Pauper, 1937

Sometimes you hear a piece of film music that is so good that it makes you want to see the film. That is certainly what brought me to the 1937 film adaptation of Mark Twain’s The Prince and the Pauper. Erich Wolfgang Korngold (1897-1957) wrote the film score for The Prince and the Pauper. Here is the Main Title:

André Previn and the London Symphony Orchestra (Deutsche Grammophon 289 471 347-2)

Korngold reused this theme in his wonderful Violin Concerto of 1945:

André Previn and the London Symphony Orchestra; Gil Shaham, violin
(Deutsche Grammophon 439 886-2)

Erich Wolfgang Korngold was a Viennese compositional wunderkind whose father was the overbearing Julius Leopold Korngold (1860-1945), chief music critic for the Neue Freie Presse and the most influential music critic in all of Vienna during Erich’s formative years. (Another Leopold was also an overbearing father to another extraordinarily talented child prodigy whose middle name was Wolfgang.) Undoubtedly molded by his father’s extreme distaste for atonal modernism, young Erich developed a style that was tonal and melodic. However, the classical music world was “evolving” away from tonality and Romanticism, and as often happens with composers who write new music using an old idiom, they are largely ignored or, worse yet, forgotten. Fortunately, Erich Wolfgang Korngold was discovered by Hollywood where his tonal music was appreciated, and he went on to write scores for sixteen Hollywood films to great acclaim. He also wrote a great deal of classical music not associated with films that has been neglected for decades and only recently is receiving a fresh hearing and long-overdue appreciation.

The Prince and the Pauper, starring Billy & Bobby Mauch, Errol Flynn, Claude Rains, Phyllis Barry, and many other notable actors, is a delightful movie suitable for the entire family. Highly recommended!

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