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Erich Korngold: The Sea Hawk

Here’s a hint: yo! ho-ho, and an Academy Award...

Up to 1938, Erich Korngold’s career had been divided between Hollywood and Vienna.

Germany’s annexation of Austria forced the composer to stay in the United States.

Korngold’s film career flourished in the States, where he produced masterful scores for films such as The Sea Hawk, a 1940 swashbuckler starring the dynamic Errol Flynn as an English privateer who fights for Queen and country.

Many saw this as a historicized allegory to Britain’s opposition to fascism, which probably pleased Korngold.

Years later, Korngold’s colorful late-Romantic style would posthumously influence a resurgence of symphonic film music.

Seeking to avoid a standard reliance on “modern-sounding” music for science fiction, young director George Lucas stumbled upon the 1970 re-issued vinyl soundtrack to The Sea Hawk, and informed John Williams that this was the sound he wanted in his film Star Wars.

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