Korngold - Symphony in F sharp, Theme and Variations, Straussiana | Chandos CHSA5220

Korngold - Symphony in F sharp, Theme and Variations, Straussiana


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Label: Chandos

Cat No: CHSA5220

Format: SACD

Number of Discs: 1

Genre: Orchestral

Release Date: 30th August 2019



Best known as a composer of film music, Korngold was born in Brünn, Austria-Hungary (present-day Brno, Czech Republic) and – as both a pianist and composer – was a child prodigy. Mahler and Strauss were impressed by the young musician, and recommended he study with Zemlinsky rather than ‘waste his time’ attending music conservatory.

Korngold emigrated with his family to the USA in 1934, where he went on to revolutionise the Hollywood soundtrack, composing scores for films such as The Sea Hawk, Captain Blood, and The Adventures of Robin Hood.

Composed between 1947 and 1952, and dedicated to the memory of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, his (only) Symphony is a heartfelt response to the conflict of WWII. The premiere, in 1954 in Vienna, was under-rehearsed and not a success, and the work remained neglected until Rudolph Kempe came across a set of score and parts in Munich and resurrected it.

The Theme and Variations and Straussiana were both commissioned by the Association of American School Orchestras, but Korngold makes no concessions to youth in his writing. Straussiana also reflects his lifelong love of the music of Johann Strauss II.

Formed originally in 1955, the Sinfonia of London was re-established in 2018 by the British conductor John Wilson to devote itself, at least initially, to recording projects of which this release is the first.


At long last, Erich Wolfgang Korngold’s Symphony in F sharp has the recording it desrves. Written between 1947 and ’52, this work is emblematic of its time, place and composer. ... Wilson and his Sinfonia of London bring us the work as it needs to sound, yet rarely has: the result packs a devastating emotional punch. ... The Theme and Variations – written for a student orchestra that must have been extremely good – is presented with tenderness and exemplary attention to detail.  Jessica Duchen (Recording of the Month)
BBC Music Magazine November 2019
Gramophone Editor's Choice

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