Today's Classical Music Video

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Baritone Hermann Prey Sings Mein sehnen, mein wahnen (Tanzlied) from Die tote Stadt

Today (Nov. 29) marks the passing of the Austrian composer Erich Wolfgang Korngold (5/29/1897 - 11/29/1957)  Born in Brno in what is now the Czech Republic to a Jewish family, Korngold was an undisputed child prodigy. Strauss and Mahler both called Korngold a genius. At the precocious age of 11, Korngold composed his first ballet, and he was only 17 when he composed his opera Violanta, still occasionally performed.  He was 23 when he composed his masterpiece, Die tote Stadt. Korngold immigrated to America in 1934 and became a successful composer of film scores. At the end of WWII and disillusioned with Hollywood, Korngold returned to Austria with the intention of resuming his career in "legitimate" classical music.  But his late-Romantic musical idiom was considered old-fashioned compared to his contemporaries who were all busy at work on serialist compositions. Korngold subsequently returned to the US and died in Hollywood in 1957. To remember his passing, I've chosen one of his most inspired melodies, that of "Mein Sehnen, Mein Wahnen", or the so-called Pierrot's Tanzlied sung by Fritz in Die tote Stadt.  This aria has become a real party piece for the baritone, and is often sung at concerts and competitions. Here is the great German baritone Hermann Prey in one of his signature pieces, recorded in his youthful prime in 1957, the year of the death of Korngold. 

- Joseph K. So

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