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Korngold and more

Erich Korngold

Erich Wolfgang Korngold

Erich Wolfgang Korngold 1897-1957 was born in Austria. His life story has many similarities to Camille Saint-Saëns, another composer featured in the LaGrange Symphony Orchestra’s SUSTAINABILITY concert, under the direction of Maestro Richard Prior, to be held April 25th, 2023 at 7:30PM in Callaway Auditorium, LaGrange, GA.

Like Saint-Saëns, Erich Korngold was a child prodigy with an affinity for composition. He wrote Der Schneemann (The Snowman), which was a ballet, at age 11.  This early success was quickly followed by other compositions through his teens. His audiences wanted more, and he delivered. Many of his subsequent works were one-act operas, some of which he also conducted. By 19 years old, he was a respected opera composer.

Korngold was Jewish, and his life in Austria saw the rise of the Nazi regime. Through his connections with motion picture director, Max Reinhardt, he moved to the United States around 1934. In fact, Erich Korngold moved to Hollywood, California, the epicenter of the motion picture industry. There he found a new calling. Erich Korngold was the first “international” composer to score a Hollywood film. (Another composer, like Saint-Saëns, who liked being a “first”, and also liked America.) Not surprisingly, Korngold’s first film was directed by Max Reinhardt, and was entitled A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Many film scores followed and also a few Oscars!

After the War

After World War II was over, Erich Korngold wanted to move away from film scores and go back to composing for the concert hall.  The first piece he presented was his Violin Concerto in D Major. This piece will be performed by YAC winner Sicong Chen along with the LaGrange Symphony Orchestra on April 25, 2023. (MORE on that below) Korngold dedicated this violin concerto to Alma Mahler, the widow of composer and mentor, Gustav Mahler. This composition received many accolades and is said to combine vitality and superb craftsmanship.

Later, Erich briefly attempted to return to his homeland in Austria, but found it much changed after the war. His style was no longer popular in Vienna, and so he returned to America (another similarity). During his lifetime he completed 16 film scores, won two Oscars, penned several operas and a full symphony. His works also include numerous pieces for piano, violin, cello, quartet and others. He had begun writing his second symphony but died at the age of 60, thinking himself to be rather forgotten.

In 1972 his son, George Korngold produced a conglomeration album of his father’s work. He recorded his father’s compositions performed by the National Philharmonic Orchestra under Charles Gerhardt.  The album was a success and sparked a great deal of interest. Currently, Erich Wolfgang Korngold’s work is reappreciated and continues to grow in popularity.


The SUSTAINABILITY concert, to be held at 7PM on April 25th at Callaway Auditorium, celebrates the fourth guiding principle of the LaGrange Symphony Orchestra. The four principles are ARTISTRY – 9/20/22, COMMUNITY – 11/1/22, EDUCATION – 3/21/23, and SUSTAINABILITY – 4/25/23.

Within this robust concert, two guest artists will be featured. Sicong Chen will perform Korngold’s Violin Concerto in D Major and Don Papenbrock will perform Camille Saint-Saëns Symphony No. 3 (The Organ Symphony). This LSO concert, conducted by Maestro Richard Prior, will be the orchestra’s season finale, and will end a fantastic concert series in a big way. Plan to attend!   TICKETS HERE


Boulanger: D’un matin de printemps

Erich Wolfgang Korngold: Violin Concerto in D Major, Op 35
with guest artist 2023 LSO Young Artists Competition winner, Sicong Chen, violin

Saint-Saëns: Symphony No. 3 Organ Symphony
with guest artist, Don Papenbrock, organ

More about Sicong Chen and Don Papenbrock

Sicong Chen
Sicong Chen
Sicong Chen, violin

Of the two guest artists, Sicong Chen will appear first on the program. He is the winner of the 2023 Young Artists Competition that was held in February of this year. Sicong impressed the judges with Erich Wolfgang Korngold’s violin concerto in D, op. 35 – I. Moderato nobile. Mr Chen will perform this winning piece for the audience, this time with full orchestra.

Born in Beijing, China, Sicong Chen began studying violin at the age of 12 with one of China’s most distinguished violin pedagogues, Xiongda Jiang. He received his bachelor and master of Music at Arizona State University, serving there as a New American Scholar and Graduate Teaching Assistant under Professor Danwen Jiang.

Chen made his solo debut in 2012, performing alongside the Beijing Youth Symphony Orchestra at the Forbidden City Concert Hall. Since then, Chen has appeared as a soloist and ensemble musician in venues all across the globe. Recent seasons highlight his performances at the Beijing Concert Hall, the Millenium Monument Concert Hall, the Zhongshan Concert Hall, the China National Library Concert Hall, and Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall. Chen also made his recording debut in 2015, featuring works by his first teacher Xiongda Jiang, alongside the Beijing Youth Symphony Orchestra.

Chen has received top awards in the Sicong Ma National Violin Competition, Hong Kong International Violin Competition, Schoenfeld International String Competition, Hong Kong International Chamber Music Competition, China Hummingbird Chamber Music Competition, and Schwob School of Music Concerto Competition.

Having served as concertmaster throughout his studies at the Beijing Youth Symphony Orchestra, Arizona State University Symphony Orchestra and the Schwob Philharmonic, Chen is an experienced ensemble leader and highly enjoys collaborating with his peers, educators and acclaimed artists through chamber music and orchestral playing. He has participated in music festivals such as Bowdoin, Montecito, Red Rocks, Taconic, Centrum, and Interharmony international festivals. During these festivals, where he studied with and performed alongside artists such as Sergiu Schwartz, Boris Kuchnir, Nicholaj Znaider, Andrès Cardenes, Shmuel Ashkenasi, Cho-Liang Lin, and Vadim Repin. He has been featured by Germany’s Sulzbach-Rosenberg Stadt newspaper numerous times and noted as an extraordinary classical ensemble musician. In 2018, he was invited as a guest artist for the International Clarinet Festival in Ostende, Belgium, and in 2021, he was invited to give a presentation and perform as a featured soloist with Orchestra Northern Arizona.

Since 2021, Sicong Chen is studying in the violin studio of Sergiu Schwartz, the William B. and Sue Marie Turner Distinguished Faculty Chair in Violin, serving as a Graduate Assistant at the Schwob School of Music at Columbus State University. As of 2021, he also acts as an Ambassador for the Samuel Vargas International Music Foundation, teaching and mentoring young aspiring talents.

Don Papenbrock
Don Papenbrock, organ
Don Papenbrock, organ

Performing Charles-Camille Saint-Saëns’ Symphony No. 3 (also known as the Organ Symphony) with the LSO, will be Don Papenbrock.

Mr. Papenbrock is a resident of Georgia, but originally hails from Jacksonville, Florida. Don is a graduate of Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, GA in Industrial Engineering. He is also a graduate from Jacksonville University, Jacksonville, FL in Business, and in Music under the study of Professor William Saunders.

Don Papenbrock has thirty-four years’ worth of professional credits over many venues, including professional music theater, community productions, solo concerts, and church positions as music director and organist. Don is currently employed as data analysis manager by Cox Communications as well as being principal organist at The First United Methodist Church of LaGrange.

Performing with the LaGrange Symphony Orchestra on April 25, 2023, Mr. Papenbrock will be playing state-of-the-art electronic equipment, which is his own personal build. Don has combined his extraordinary technological and engineering expertise with his music abilities to bring you something truly remarkable in Callaway Auditorium. This instrument is capable of reproducing sounds from various famous organs most impressively! Recently, this Hauptwerk equipment enticed audiences with the Mascioni organ of Chiesa di San Giovanni Evangelista in Alessandria, Italy and the organ from St. Laurenskerk basillica, in Rotterdam, Netherlands.

The music within Symphony No. 3 was recognized by the composer as one of his best works.
Camille Saint-Saëns said, “I gave everything to it I was able to give. What I have accomplished here, I will never achieve again.”

Read more about Charles-Camille Saint-Saëns HERE

This concert performance of Symphony No. 3 will be inspirational. You will hear, feel, and remember this season finale concert for a long time.

GET TICKETS for the LSO 22/23 season finale concert “SUSTAINABILITY” HERE

Season Finale and Announcement

What a terrific season this has been with guest artists appearing at every concert! The LSO would like to thank everyone who helped to make this season so remarkable. While this concert marks the end of the 2022/23 season, the announcement of the 2023/24 season will be made at this April 25th concert!

Thank you for supporting the LaGrange Symphony Orchestra!


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