This Friday evening at the Auditorium at Bethel Church in Crown Point the Symphony will be performing my favorite violin concerto - the Korngold Violin Concerto. I am convinced that, after the concert, it will also be YOUR favorite violin concerto!
Imagine, if you will, the sweeping ultra-romantic music of early 1940s movies, The Seahawk, Captain Blood, and The Adventures Of Robin Hood starring the likes of Errol Flynn and Olivia de Havilland! Then just make that into a violin concerto and you've got it!
The music is swashbuckling and sweeping. Moreover, it is amorous and tender in ways that only the music of those wonderful years gave us. You can almost hear the chivalry in the melodies. You can almost hear the understated courtships that went on then between man and woman - before the days of speed dating and "I Want to Marry a Millionaire.”
Certainly it is music for a Valentines date, whether it is a date with your girlfriend or boyfriend or your husband or wife. As you plan your Valentine’s Day celebrations, know that this is the kind of music that you want to hold hands to.
If you don't believe me, then go to the computer, go to YouTube and listen to a splendid recording of Hillary Hahn playing each of the 3 movements of this concerto. Each is approximately only 8 minutes long. Go ahead! I will wait for you here.
SEE????? I told you so! After just a few bars, you feel what I am talking about, eh?
I am completely in love with this piece. And yet, I also hate it deeply. It is, I think, the hardest violin concerto in the repertoire to conduct. Every time that I am studying the score, I want to take my pencil and shoot it with Errol Flynn's bow, right through Korngold's brain! It is SO hard! He just makes up these gorgeous melodies for the violinist, but then underneath it will be some monster lick in the flutes along with some tiny little off beat in the vibraphone. And the rhythms! Sure, it sounds just great once you get it all together, but getting it there is a great challenge for any conductor.
Ok - enough about the conducting problems of the Korngold. IT IS MY FAVORITE VIOLIN CONCERTO and I could listen to it all day long!
Besides, I should not be mean to Korngold. He had an extremely trying life. When he was just a very young man, he was declared the "new Mozart" in Vienna. It took until the ripe old age of 22 for Korngold to have his operas produced at the Vienna State Opera. However, being Jewish, he came to America in the late 1930s, never to return to his Austrian homeland. Instead, he settled in Hollywood, and wrote film scores and pieces like the violin concerto. (Lucky for us, eh?)
Our soloist for this concerto is Corey Cerovsek, the youngest person to ever graduate from Indiana University with bachelor's degrees in both music performance and mathematics. Like Korngold, Corey has that spark of genius. To graduate from one of the greatest music schools in the world at age 15 is really something eh?!
I look forward to seeing you all after the concert and hearing from you if you agree with me about the Korngold, about Corey, and whether it was absolutely the best music for Valentine’s Day!