Academic journal article Notes

German Film Scores from the Silent Era

Academic journal article Notes

German Film Scores from the Silent Era

Article excerpt

Gottfried Huppertz. Metropolis, op. 29: Musik zum Fritz-Lang-Stummfilm von 1925/26. Bearbeitung zum Film von Berndt Heller fur Orchester. Erstausgabe mit einer Einleitung von Friedemann Beyer und Berndt Heller. Berlin: Ries & Erler, 2006. [Introd. in Ger., p. iii-vii; score, p. 1-394. ISMN M-013-51150-1, pub. no. 51150. [euro]149.]

Wolfgang Zeller. Musik zum Lotte Reiniger-Stummfilm Die Abenteuer des Prinzen Achmed fur kleines Orchester bearbeitet von Jens Schubbe. Berlin: Ries & Erler, 2008. [Score, p. 1-73 (1. Akt), 1-121 (2. Akt), 1-99 (3. Akt), 1-126 (4. Akt), 1-64 (5. Akt). ISMN M-013-51216-4 (score), M013783024-4 (parts), pub. no. 51216. [euro]84.]

Edmund Meisel. Berlin, Die Sinfonie der GroBstadt: Musik zum Ruttrnann-Stummfilm. Bearbeitung fur 16 Instrumente, auf der Basis des Klavierauszuges der Original-Musik Edmund Meisels [von] Mark-Andreas Schlingensiepen. Berlin: Ries & Erler, 2009. [List of percussion requirements, inside front cover; score, p. I/1-I/97 (I. Akt), II/1-II/67 (II. Akt), III/1-III/108 (HI. Ala), IV/1-IV/146 (IV. Akt), V/l-V/108 (V. Akt). ISMN M-013-51242-3, pub. no. 51242. [euro]149.]

Eduard Kunneke. Musik zum Lubitsch-Stummfilm Das Weib des Pharao, op. 15, fur Salonorchester. Bearbeitung zur Filmfassung 2011 von Frank Strobel. Berlin: Ries 8c Erler, 2011. [Instrumentation, 1 p.; score, p. 1-390. ISMN M-013-51286-7 (score), M-013-30339-2 (parts), pub. no. 51286. [euro]149.]

It is always a problem for teachers of music history to deal with music for which no published score exists. Although this problem arises less frequently when teaching the Western canon, when teaching film music, it is simply the normal state of things. Within the subfield of German silent-film music, a series of scores published by Ries & Eder represents a significant step toward addressing this problem. Under consideration here are Eduard Kimneke's score for Ernst Lubitsch's Das Weib des Pharao (usually translated as The Loves of the Pharaoh, 1922); Wolfgang Zeller's score for Lotte Reiniger's Die Abenteuer des Prinzen Achmed (The Adventures of Prince Achmed, 1926); Gottfried Huppertz's score for Fritz Lang's Metropolis (1927); and Edmund Meisel's score for Walter Runman's Berlin: Die Symphonie der Grofistadt (1927). These recent publications--all from 2006-2011--belong to a well-established and, it is hoped, ongoing project that includes numerous other films (twenty-one at present), which are listed, with some descriptive notes, at http://www.stummfilmmusik.com/filmmusik/ (accessed 15 May 2013).

All four films are historically important, and all are gems of the German late silent cinema. We have here a virtuosic benchmark in the animation medium (The Adventures of Prince Achmed); the lavish apex of legendary director Ernst Lubitsch's German career just prior to his emigration to Hollywood (The Loves of the Pharaoh); and a feature-length avant-garde masterpiece that strikingly exemplifies the interwar aesthetic of "New Objectivity" (Berlin). And, of course, in Metropolis, we have one of the most complex, analyzed, and debated works in film history, as well as--with its dazzling images and provocative politics--one of the few silent films to continually appeal to an extremely broad contemporary audience.

The publication of such scores is a significant aid for the teaching of film-music history. Without relying upon transcription, memory, or the availability of archival resources, educators can lead students to delve into specific details of orchestration, large-scale tonal structures, and interrelated musical motives within a score. This, however, is not the scores' only potential function. Venues still exist through which silent films can enjoy screenings with live music, and these publications (two of them--Metropolis and The Loves of the Pharaoh--appearing in conjunction with specific restoration projects) demonstrate that a contemporary German exhibition culture for silent-film music is alive and well. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.