70 Years of Berliner Festspiele

Ivan the Terrible

Sergei Eisenstein
b/w and colour
Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin / Frank Strobel
Rundfunk-Chor Berlin, Marina Prudenskaya (alto), Alexander Vinogradov (bass)
Concert as part of Musikfest Berlin 2016

The monumental film ‘Ivan the Terrible’ by Sergei Eisenstein was created in the middle of the Second World War. In 2016 Musikfest Berlin presented this classic sound film with a live performance of the film score by Sergei Prokofiev for the first time, offering a new experience of his musical compositions.

A masked person in a white costume who wears a golden crown. The person dances in the dark and is observed by people in the background of the image.

Sergei Eisenstein, “Ivan the Terrible”, 1944/1946. Film concert of Musikfest Berlin 2016,. Film, colour, sound. Film still. RSB/Rundfunkchor

© Berlin ZDF / Arte

  • 186 min
  • In Russian with German subtitles

Film concerts have now assumed a regular place in the repertoire of symphony orchestras, but seldom are such monumental cinematic and musical works performed as those in the three film concerts that Musikfest Berlin produced between 2016 and 2019 in co-operation with RSB and the film department of ZDF/ARTE. Two masterpieces of the silent era were shown in the two French films “J’Accuse” (1918) and “La Roue” (1923) directed by Abel Gance, along with “Ivan the Terrible”, a classic sound film made in the 1940s.

Music played a special role in all three projects. The film music to “Ivan the Terrible” was written by Sergei Prokofiev and was performed to accompany the film live for the first time in 2016. It is written for a choir, solo singers and symphony orchestra. When it is heard as a sound film in the cinema, this scarcely offers an adequate impression of the boldness of the original music. In the large space of the concert hall, with the choir seated on the balcony directly beside the screen, it was possible for a giant sound experience to unfold.

© RSB | Rundfunkchor | Berlin ZDF | Arte