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Music in Germany’s Earliest Sound Films: an Archival and Cultural Investigation

Barham, JM Music in Germany’s Earliest Sound Films: an Archival and Cultural Investigation In: Music and the Moving Image VIII, 2013-05-31 - 2014-06-02, New York University Steinhardt.

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Abstract

In German historical and cultural narratives, the advent of sound in film is often conflated with that of National Socialism in politics. However, from the late 1920s to the early 1930s a vast and mostly unexplored body of sound film was produced before Hitler’s official assumption of power and the establishment of Goebbel’s Reichsfilmkammer. Overshadowed by political events, this screen repertoire and its scoring have received only cursory treatment in socio-cultural appraisals of Germany’s Weimar Republic years (1918-33), in specific studies of the arts or film of the period, and in historical accounts of film music itself. Even the principal source, Ulrich Rügner’s Filmmusik in Deutschland zwischen 1924 und 1934 (1988), discusses only five of approximately 500 sound films made during this period, the time of notable socio-politically trenchant works such as Der blaue Engel (1930) and Kuhle Wampe (1931), but of so much more besides. This paper presents the first fruits of comprehensive archival research undertaken into the repertoire of post-silent adventure films, dramas, historical films, comedies, film noir, romances, literary adaptations, sport films, musicals, documentaries and experimental films produced in the final years of the Weimar Republic, and held in the Bundesarchiv in Berlin and the Murnau-Stiftung in Wiesbaden. The scoring of this screen repertoire is examined for its use of specially composed and pre-existent music – the latter serving as an important indicator of cultural inclinations in a rapidly changing socio-political environment – and for the degree to which it both resembled, and was distinct from, emergent Hollywood models.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (UNSPECIFIED)
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Barham, JMUNSPECIFIEDUNSPECIFIED
Depositing User : Symplectic Elements
Date Deposited : 28 Mar 2017 13:11
Last Modified : 28 Mar 2017 13:11
URI: http://epubs.surrey.ac.uk/id/eprint/805997

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