1. Date/Time

  2. Location

    Deutsches Haus at NYU

    42 Washington Mews
    New York, NY 10003

  3. Admission

    Members: Free
    Non-members: Free

Leo Baeck Institute and Deutsches Haus at NYU are pleased to present a screening of the film Das Reichsorchester (Germany 2007, 90 min, Thea­trical Documentary, D: Enrique Sanchez Lansch).

The screening is followed by a conversation with members of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra Helge Grünewald and Walter Küssner

The docu­men­tary high­lights the pre­viously unknown chapter in the history of the Berlin Phil­har­monic Orchestra in the years from 1933 to 1945.

Financed by the Third Reich, the Berlin Phil­har­monic was not only Germany’s flagship orchestra; as a major tool of Pro­pa­ganda Minister Goeb­bels, it also became an ambas­sador for the Nazi regime, par­ti­cu­larly on for­eign tours. In this docu­men­tary the spot­light is on the orchestra itself – the musi­cians, the people, and their indi­vi­dual desti­nies. Alt­hough its mem­bers were much less exposed than their prin­cipal con­ductor Wil­helm Furt­wängler, they, like him, moved in cir­cles close to the powers that bes­towed pri­vi­lege and the­reby encou­raged people to shirk indi­vi­dual responsibility.

The unique and micro­cosmic world of the Berlin Phil­har­monic Orchestra proves to be a fasci­na­ting sub­ject for exami­na­tion. First-hand accounts of life in and around the orchestra, deli­vered by eye wit­nesses, as well as a wealth of pre­viously uneva­luated archive mate­rial, pro­vide a highly authentic glimpse into the period under the swas­tika. The film brings to life this chapter in the history of Ger­many and its capital Berlin, and explores the ques­tion: How does one tread the fine line bet­ween inde­pen­dence and indi­vi­dual responsibility?

Dr. Grünewald was born and grew up in Freudenberg-Westfalen. In 1967 he came to Berlin, where he studied political science, sociology and music. He worked as a social scientist in teaching and research. Since 1973 he has also worked as a music journalist. He worked for various broadcasters (SFB, today RBB, Deutschlandradio), broadcast orchestras (Radio-Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, now DSO, Berliner Philharoniker), Berliner Festspiele, Magazines (“Foto Forum,” “Klassik heute”), as well as newspapers and record companies. He was editor of the foto volume “The Berliner Philharmonic Orchestra with Claudio Abbado” (1994) and the CD documentation of “Berliner Philharmoniker- Im Takt der Zeit” (2007). After 16 years as head of the press and public relations of the Berlin Philharmonics, he took over new functions in 2006. As DRAMATURG he now cares for the exhibitions, the archives of the Orchestra, the release of historic recordings as well as different types of events (like the philharmonic film series).

Mr. Küssner was born in Münster (Germany) and has studied at the academy of music in Düsseldorf with Jürgen Kussmaul, with Kim Kashkashian in New York and with Michael Tree in St. Louis. In 1986 and 1987 he was a fellow of the philharmonic orchestra academy. After two years of membership of the symphony orchestra of the Bavarian public broadcast he cameto the Berlin Philharmonic in 1989. He played in numerous chamber music ensembles, among them the Berlin Philharmonic soloists, the Philharmonic string sextet, the Berlin Baroque Soloists, the Athenian quartet, the Philharmonic string octet as well as for the Concerto Melante. Since 2002, Mr. Küssner has been the Hans Eisler Guest Professor at the Academy of Music in Berlin.

DAAD sponsored event

Events at Deutsches Haus are free of charge. Please let us know which event you would like to attend by sending us an email to deutscheshaus.rsvp@nyu.edu. Space at Deutsches Haus is limited, please arrive ten minutes prior to the event. Thank you!