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
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