Lest We Forget

He had just left the Jewish Museum in Vienna tonight and he was filled with emotions of yet the remainder of the week to come when he phoned me. John Mauceri, who has conducted 325 concerts in the Hollywood Bowl — to over four million people and who is perhaps the leading expert on Hollywood film music and its history has created a week-long program timed to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the death of Erich Wolfgang Korngold, the legendary Austrian-born composer who is credited with creating what is known as “the Hollywood sound.” He won three Oscars and his credits include “King’s Row,”  “The Sea Hawk,” “The Adventures Of Robin Hood,” etc. The celebration highlights the exodus of the Jewish composers escaping from the horrors of Nazi Germany and Austria. Members of the Korngold family — children and grandchildren all of whom live in the U.S. — many of whom had never been in Autria — are on hand for the tributes.

“This is very moving,” Mauceri told me, “It’s the first time in history that this music has ever before been played live.” Mauceri will conduct the large (100-plus) Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra Thursday night at the Vienna Konzerthaus in a two-part program. The first half, “Vienna In Hollywood,” the second, “Hollywood in Vienna” will show how Korngold and Arnold Schoenberg still influence movie music — as created by John Williams and  Jerry Goldsmith. As an encore, Mauceri said he’ll conduct Max Steiner’s music from “GWTW.” Among the Vienna orchestra members will be representatives of the North Carolina School of the Arts where Mauceri is Chancellor. Three are musicians, two are vocalists one is filming a documentary and another is writing a piece. “It is very moving to be conducting them,” said Mauceri. The event is produced by Sandra Tomek.

Tomorrow, Wednesday, Mauceri will give a lecture at the University of Vienna on the Jewish refugee composers in Hollywood. And Friday, at the residence of the U.S. Ambassador to Austria, a 45-minute program, with students from the North Carolina School of the Arts (NCSA) performing music from Broadway celebrating songs  of Sigmund Romberg, Stephen Sondheim, Adam Guettel and Jerome Kern. I urged Mauceri to continue considering a returning to the Hollywood Bowl next summer. Happily he said he will Together Again — Who Knows?

Richard Chamberlain and Polly Bergen livened (even more!) “Desperate Housewives” Sunday night as they — or rather he –explained why their marriage failed: “Because I’m gay,” Chamberlain surprised his family. It was Chamberlain’s first seg on the show, Bergen said it was her eighth. Both hope they’ll be asked back. “They didn’t say I died of alcoholism,” she laughed. And Chamberlain said “it was a lot of fun” working with the company — and with Polly again. “We did a ‘Dr.Kildaire’ together — many decades ago! She played twins, a good and bad one.” As for Chamberlain reflecting on saying “I’m gay,” he minimized with, “It’s a non-issue.” He and partner Martin Rabett celebrate a 31 year relationship on Christmas day as told in his autobiog, “Shattered Love” which hit #12 on the NYT list… It has been a busy year for Chamberlain, a Maui resident. He plays a boxing trainer to Michael Madsen in the Ireland-filmed “Strength and Honor”  as well as costarring in “I Now Pronounce You Chuck And Larry” and a guestint with his old MGM stable-mate Robert Vaughn in “Hustle” in London.

Polly Bergen, laughingly recalls when they were shooting the “”Desperate Housewives” scene in which Chamberlain said “I left you because I’m gay,” she said to him — off-camera –“If you decide to go straight — call me!” Polly said “I retired four years ago and I haven’t stopped working!” In addition to the multi “Desperate Housewives”, she’s done “Move Over Darling,” “The Sopranos” and countless club dates.    

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  1. casakin says:

    I attended the concert last night – Thursday – in Vienna as my father starred in four of the films for which Korngold composed scores.
    It was a magical and wonderfully nostalgic evening for me personally and a magnificent and jubilant evening for everyone.
    I am so delighted that the music from our ‘Golden Era’ is still loved and appreciated. Congratulations and many thanks to Maestro Mauceri for his dedication to honoring the music and putting it into historical perspective for us and generations to come.

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