Musicology Research

Summer 2016: University of Tennessee, Knoxville Masters Thesis 

Erich Korngold’s Discursive Practices: Musical Values in the Salon Community from Vienna to Hollywood

Abstract:  Erich Wolfgang Korngold, a Viennese musician of the early twentieth century, composed western art music and film scores. Some scholars suggest his musical values and success in film music related entirely to his experiences composing operas. Indeed, Korngold’s adherence to tonality and his reputation as a European high art composer contributed to his success both in Vienna and Hollywood. However, much research has failed to address his time spent arranging and composing operettas. Few scholars have discussed that his lifelong style, including his operas, also reflected the Viennese light and popular music of his youth. Korngold’s background in Viennese music set the stage for Korngold’s discursive practices and negotiation between European high art music and popular music. Based on the work of Simon Frith, I use discursive practice to discuss ongoing discourses between high art and lighter or popular forms, along with social presentations and interaction with mass media. I apply Frith’s ideas to my research through the examples of Korngold’s works and social connections in Vienna and Hollywood. Additionally, through the identity theories of Turino, I demonstrate how Korngold’s Viennese upbringing influenced his musical tastes toward popular styles, such as the waltz, while his father’s influence contributed to his self-perception as a high art composer. Korngold grew up in a close-knit Viennese community of high art musicians, which impacted his music and personal identity. The salon communities in Vienna and Hollywood also contributed to the formation of his group identity. Korngold’s musical style is consistent throughout his life, but the presentation and reception of his music varied based on particular cultural and compositional contexts.


Fall 2011: Maryville College Senior Study

Exemplary thesis, recommended for MC library’s permanent collection, featured on MC website-undergraduate research

Kurt Weill and Erich Wolfgang Korngold: Composers of Two Worlds

Abstract: This research follows the lives of two composers, Erich Wolfgang Korngold and Kurt Weill, ultimately looking at the effect they had on American music.  Both were born at the turn of the 20th century, and composed classically in Europe prior to the Nazi takeover of Germany and Austria.  An explanation is given of the political background of Germany prior to 1933, as well as how music and politics intertwined and affected many Jewish composers and musicians of the era.  Brief descriptions of Nazi doctrines are also included. Following the lives and musical output of these two composers, the first chapter focuses from birth to 1933.  Their music and talents will be explored, as well as the political arenas they lived in and how they reacted to the changing times.  Chapter Two will follow how becoming an American affected them and the effect they had on American music from 1933 until their deaths.  The final chapter examines the music they created in each world and the changes imposed upon it through emigration.
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