Musical Borrowing
An Annotated Bibliography

Individual record

[+] Platte, Nathan. “Dream Analysis: Korngold, Mendelssohn, and Musical Adaptations in Warner Bros.’ A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1935).” 19th-Century Music 34 (Spring 2011): 211-36.

Erich Wolfgang Korngold’s adaptation of Felix Mendelssohn’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream for the 1935 Warner Bros. production of the same title, as well as the publicity behind it, played a critical role in elevating film music and helped establish Korngold as a uniquely independent artist within the film studio system. Korngold’s involvement was specifically requested by the film’s director, Max Reinhardt, who had earned recent acclaim with his theatrical production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Hollywood Bowl. Korngold was also much more involved on set than was typical of a 1930s film composer. Korngold made numerous cuts, edits, and reorchestrations of Mendelssohn’s original score in order to better fit the film edit and the darker tone that Reinhardt established in his direction. This is particularly evident in the film sequences “Nocturno” and “Fog Dance.” Additional music by Mendelssohn was also included by Korngold at various points throughout the film score. In promotional material for the film, Warner Bros. emphasized Korngold’s involvement with the music as a way of promoting Dream as a prestige film with serious artistic merit. Dream was billed as a film to really listen to as much as watch. Although the film itself received mixed reviews, Korngold’s contribution was lauded in the press, which helped to launch the Hollywood career of the influential film composer.

Works: Erich Wolfgang Korngold: score to A Midsummer Night’s Dream (218-28)

Sources: Felix Mendelssohn: A Midsummer Night’s Dream (218-28); Neue Liebe, Op. 19, No. 4 (219), Symphony No. 3, Op. 56 (219), Scherzo in E Minor for Piano, Op. 16, No. 2 (219)

Index Classifications: 1900s, Film

Contributed by: Matthew Van Vleet

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