Erich Wolfgang Korngold (May 29, 1897 – November 29, 1957) was an Austrian-born composer and conductor. A child prodigy, he became one of the most important and influential composers in Hollywood history. He was a noted pianist and composer of classical music, along with music for Hollywood films, and the first composer of international stature to write Hollywood scores.
When he was 11, his ballet Der Schneemann (The Snowman), became a sensation in Vienna, followed by his Second Piano Sonata which he wrote at age 13, played throughout Europe by Artur Schnabel. His one-act operas Violanta and Der Ring des Polykrates were premiered in Munich in 1916, conducted by Bruno Walter. At 23, his opera Die tote Stadt (The Dead City) premiered in Hamburg and Cologne. In 1921 he conducted the Hamburg Opera. During the 1920s he re-orchestrated, re-arranged and nearly re-composed, for the theater, operettas by Johann Strauss II. By 1931 he was a professor of music at Vienna State Academy.
At the request of director Max Reinhardt, and due to the rise of the Nazi regime, Korngold moved to the U.S. in 1934 to write music scores for films. His first was Reinhardt's A Midsummer Night's Dream (1935), which was well received by critics. He subsequently wrote scores for such films as Captain Blood (1935), which helped boost the career of its starring newcomer, Errol Flynn. His score for Anthony Adverse (1936) won an Oscar, and was followed two years later with another Oscar for The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938).
Overall, he wrote the score for 16 Hollywood films, receiving two more nominations. Along with Max Steiner and Alfred Newman, he is one of the founders of film music. Although his late classical Romantic compositions were no longer as popular when he died in 1957, his music underwent a resurgence of interest in the 1970s beginning with the release of the RCA Red Seal album The Sea Hawk: the Classic Film Scores of Erich Wolfgang Korngold (1972). This album was hugely popular and ignited interest in other film music of his (and other composers like Steiner) and in his concert music, which often incorporated popular themes from his film scores (an example being the Violin Concerto in D, Op. 35).