Born in Brno, Erich Korngold was the son of an eminent music critic. A child prodigy, at the age of ten he played his cantata Goldto Gustav Mahler , who recommended he study with Zemlinsky in Vienna. His Sinfonietta (1912) impressed Richard Strauss greatly, and Giacomo Puccini was among many to be awed by his opera Violetta (1916), not least by the idea that a young composer could write a work so rampantly erotic. After the success of his opera Die tote Stadt (1920) he began to teach composition and opera at the Vienna Staatsakademie.
Korngold emigrated to America in 1934 at the behest of Max Reinhold, a former collaborator. He continued to write operas and also scored music for 19 films, winning Oscars for his work on Robin Hood and Anthony Adverse. Sticking rigidly to his late-romantic idiom, he defended his use of anachronistic styles in historical dramas by comparing it with the use of modern dialogue. After the Second World War he returned to orchestral music, his works receiving unjust criticism by dint of association with the cash cow of Hollywood. In recent years both his film scores and his serious works have enjoyed much favourable re-evaluation.