SALON ORCHESTRA FAVOURITES, VOL. 4
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Salon Orchestra Favourites, Vol. 4
German Hit Songs of the 1930s
German history of the 1930s has many sad and dismal chapters,from the world economic crisis at the beginning of the decade, to theunleashing of the Second World War at the end. And yet, in such a period ofcrisis and catastrophe German light music won world-wide prestige and has beenable to continue in popularity even to the present. Particular luminaries of thegenre were Werner Richard Heymann, Peter Kreuder and Gerhard Winkler.
In the end it was a coincidence that the introduction oftalkies into the cinema came at the same time as the slump. The then stillrelatively small Warner Brothers film company had launched the first talkie onthe market in 1926/1927 to avert impending bankruptcy. In 1929 the first talkiein Germany appeared. Werner Richard Heymann was one of the first to conquerthis new field of activity in the service of UFA, the most important Germanfilm company and also the most successful. Already in 1930 Heymann wrote probablyhis most famous evergreens for Die Drei von der Tankstelle
(The Threefrom the Filling Station), among them 'Liebling, mein Herz la?ƒt Dich gr???ƒen' (Darling, my heart greets you). There thenfollowed hits for 'Liebeswalzer' (Love Waltz), 'Der Kongress tanzt' (Congress Dances),Ein blonder Traum
(A Fair Dream, 1932) featuring 'Irgendwo auf der Welt'
(Somewhere in the World) and Der Sieger
(The Conqueror, 1932) featuring'Es f??hrt kein anderer Weg zur Seligkeit' (There Is No Other Way To Happiness).
In quick succession came music for fifteen films, based,almost always, on texts by Robert Gilbert (1899-1978), son of the successfulcomposer Jean Gilbert. In 1933, however, there was no longer a place for Heymannand Gilbert. The National Socialist racial madness banished the successful duobecause of their Jewish origin. They both emigrated and eventually reached Hollywood. There up to 1950 Heymann wrote music for 44 films, the best known of which issurely Ernst Lubitsch's Ninotschka
(1939) with Great Garbo in thetitle-r??le. In 1950 Heymann returned again to Germany, but was no longer ableto recapture his earlier success.
One of the most dazzling figures of the genre is certainlyPeter Kreuder, infant prodigy, composer of inexhaustible inspiration and world-famouspianist. He gave his first public concert at the age of six at the G??rzenich in Cologne and at thirteen obtained his first position as chorus repetiteur atthe Hamburg Stadttheater. Thereafter his life took two courses: on the one handhe shone in more than four thousand concerts in 39 countries and left more thantwo thousand recordings; on the other his creative power as a composer broughtan opera, several operettas and musicals, scores for 188 films and hundreds ofhits.
Peter Kreuder lived for his music, even when, from 1933, hewas taken up by the National Socialists. For the most part there were harmlesslittle films to which his evergreens added lustre. 'Sag beim Abschied leise Servus' (Bid a gentle farewell at parting)for example came from the film Burgtheater
, first seen in 1936, and 'F??reine Nacht voller Seligkeit' (For a night full of happiness) was part ofKora Terry
, shot in 1940 with Marika Rokk. Kreuder made no politicalcommitment. In 1935 he wrote the music for Leni Riefenstahl's second National SocialistRally film Tag der Freiheit - Unsere Wehrmacht
(Day of Freedom - Our Armed Forces). In 1937, on the otherhand, he recorded in Paris music by his respected Jewish composer-colleagues FriedrichHollaender and Hugo Hirsch. From the beginning of the war he was in Sweden, but when in 1942 the National Socialists detained him in Germany, when he broke his journeyin Berlin, he composed more film music for their light entertainmentproductions. In 1946 he met and became an admirer of Evita Peron, following herto Argentina. On her death in 1952 he moved to Brasil, continuing to writemusic for an enormous number of films. He returned to Germany and finally helped Zarah Leander, the most important hit singer of the National Socialists,to make her comeback with two musicals tailored specially for her.
Less spectacular but in no way less successful was the lifeof Gerhard Winkler. For years he worked in the most varied fields of lightmusic, conducted spa orchestras and dance-bands, arranged music for better knownensembles and in the shortest space of time composed music for hundreds ofadvertising films. He was also intensively involved with foreign musical traditions,particularly from Italy. In the years from 1936 to 1940 he consolidated thisinto a series of fifteen works, Klange aus aller Welt
(Music from theWhole World), of which the Dutch Shoe-Dance
(1938) and the PortugueseFisherman's Dance
(1940) are part. Winkler gave his attention not only toorchestral light music but also to commercially ever more important hits. Amonghis most important interpreters was the singer Rudi Schuricke.
In the war Winkler served as organizer of entertainment forthe armed forces. As a composer he worked mainly with the lyricist Ralph MariaSiegel and wrote not only Capri-Fischer
(Capri Fisherman), Winkler'smost famous hit, but also the Casanova song, Komm, Kasanova, kuss mich' (Come, Casanova, kiss me), both first interpreted by MagdaHain. After the war Winkler continued his successful compositions, among othersSkandal im Harem
(1946/1947) (Scandal in the Harem). He increasinglyconcerned himself with questions of musical copyright protection in the organizationset up in Germany for this purpose, GEMA.
English versionby Keith Anderson