Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Music



Major Professor

Rachel M. Golden

Committee Members

Leslie C. Gay Jr., Victor Chavez


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.

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Musicology Commons