1941 Recording: Korngold’s “Much Ado About Nothing,” Toscha Seidel

In 1918, the 21-year-old Erich Wolfgang Korngold received a commission to write incidental music for a Vienna production of Shakespeare’s comedy, Much Ado About Nothing. Wartime restrictions, along with the intimacy of the theater, with its small orchestra pit, necessitated that the work be scored for a chamber ensemble. As Brendan Carrol writes in a recent article, the project went through a series of incarnations. When the original theater company went bankrupt, the bigger Burgtheater stepped in, hiring members of the Vienna Philharmonic to play the score. Korngold transformed the music into an orchestral concert suite which took on a life of its own. The popularity of the sold-out production extended the run. Meanwhile, many of the Vienna Philharmonic musicians had other commitments and were unable to play additional weeks. Cleverly, Korngold rearranged the score for solo violin and piano.  His masterful underscoring of Shakespeare’s lines anticipated the work he would do later as one of the preeminent composers of Hollywood’s “golden age.”

A July 31, 1941 recording of the Much Ado About Nothing Suite features the great Russian violinist, Toscha Seidel, with Korngold at the piano. Born in Odessa in 1899, Seidel emigrated to the United States and established a career as one of Hollywood’s most important violinists. For many years, he was concertmaster of the MGM Studio Orchestra. His radiant, singing sound, heard on Ingrid Bergman and Leslie Howard’s film, Intermezzo, became synonymous with the lush “Hollywood sound.” Gershwin’s 1921 song, Mischa, Jascha, Toscha, Saschais a testament to his fame in the early years of the twentieth century.

Here is the Suite’s third movement, Scene in the Garden, a beautiful and nostalgic slow waltz. It contains all of the expansiveness of Korngold’s film scores. According to Brendan Carrol, it was often said that “Korngold playing the piano was almost like a full orchestra.” This is in evidence on this magical, historic recording:

Recordings

  • Korngold: Much Ado About Nothing Suite for Violin, Toscha Seidel, Erich Wolfgang Korngold Amazon

About Timothy Judd

A native of Upstate New York, Timothy Judd has been a member of the Richmond Symphony violin section since 2001. He is a graduate of the Eastman School of Music where he earned the degrees Bachelor of Music and Master of Music, studying with world renowned Ukrainian-American violinist Oleh Krysa.

The son of public school music educators, Timothy Judd began violin lessons at the age of four through Eastman’s Community Education Division. He was a student of Anastasia Jempelis, one of the earliest champions of the Suzuki method in the United States.

A passionate teacher, Mr. Judd has maintained a private violin studio in the Richmond area since 2002 and has been active coaching chamber music and numerous youth orchestra sectionals.

In his free time, Timothy Judd enjoys working out with Richmond’s popular SEAL Team Physical Training program.

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