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Vienna to Hollywood
“Vienna to Hollywood” is a project created by soprano, Melanie Henley Heyn, and pianist, Deirdre Brenner, which explores the personal and musical journeys of a group of Jewish composers who fled Austria just before WWII and eventually found their way to Los Angeles. They look at what it was about LA during the 1930s and 40s that attracted these émigrés, and what made them decide to stay.
Their concert program is presented as a “lecture-recital”, where stories about the composers' lives are woven into a musical program for voice and piano. Included are songs that were composed in Europe before the war, as well as repertoire written in the US during and after the war -- aiming to show a wide variety of work. Some of the songs are in German, others in English, and a few in Hebrew.
Some of the composers, such as Arnold Schoenberg and Erich Korngold, are quite well known. Schoenberg is often referred to as “The Father of Modern Music” and Korngold is best known for his work in the film industry, composing scores for films such as The Adventures of Robin Hood and The Sea Hawk. The other composers featured on this program, Hanns Eisler, Ernst Krenek, Ernst Toch and Erich Zeisl are less-known but no less significant. It is the intention of this project to bring attention to the works of these great composers and to highlight their influence on the musical culture of post-war America.
Based in Vienna, Austria, both Deirdre and Melanie completed Master’s degrees in performance at the Vienna Conservatory and have performed together extensively. A native of Yarmouthport, Deirdre, has lived in Europe since her graduation from Dartmouth in 2001, and has been in Vienna since 2006. She specializes in the performance of Lieder (German art song) and has performed throughout Europe, in major concert halls and festivals in Austria, England, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Spain, England, as well as in South Korea. Melanie, originally from Pennsylvania, completed her undergraduate studies at the University of Southern California and has lived in Vienna since 2007. Equally at home on the opera stage and in the concert hall, she has been praised for her dramatic interpretations and inventive recital programming. She has most recently been heard as Female Chorus in Britten’s Rape of Lucretia and as Madame Lidoine in Poulenc’s Dialogues des Carmélites, both in Vienna.