Melbourne Symphony Orchestra unearths forgotten composer who inspired Star Wars theme
It was inspired by an astonishing concert in September last year at the London Proms, where John Wilson had conducted the symphony on one of his incredibly rare outings in the 60 years since it was written .
A reviewer said they left the performance “shaking all over” and that it was “a tragedy-laden post-war howl of pain given the performance it deserved”.
The temperature gave it five stars, raving that it was “a breathtaking masterpiece: dark, biting, anguished, grieving, moving… [it] was etched in the mind”.
Northey says the performance was eye-opening: Part of Wilson’s success in revisiting the piece was playing it at the blazing, high octane level of film music. Previous recordings had been too slow and had missed the mark.
“You gotta go, fast tempo, really intense approach to the romanticism of the piece,” he says. “You have to accept that. It’s hyper-romanticism.
“When I heard his recording, I was like ‘oh, it’s how is this piece going”. I thought ‘I just have to do this. I know this language.’
Part of the tragedy of Korngold’s career was that he stubbornly stuck to romanticism, its melody, harmony and tumultuous emotions, as the classical world evolved into modern, neo-classical and avant-garde styles. guards. It was perfect for Hollywood, but it was despised by its contemporaries.
And his swashbuckling cinematic work only made him more outward with the establishment (there may have been a bit of anti-Semitism involved, too).
Then, when the film writing faded and he attempted to resuscitate his career as a serious composer, he returned to Vienna for more heartbreak, finding his beautiful home bombed, his childhood memories trampled, and his accomplishments erased.
His 1952 symphony, says Northey, evokes all the experiences of his life: nostalgia for the old world and the pain of its loss.
“There’s a kind of beauty in tears,” he says. “But nobody wanted to play him… and now, 125 years after he was born, he is now accepted as a genius. It’s ridiculous, a bit heartbreaking, but it’s amazing.
The MSO presents Brahms and Korngold Thursday March 31 and Saturday April 2 at Hamer Hall.
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