Music + Film

Die Weber

Musik + Film

Die Weber

Die Weber. [Excerpt]

© Friedrich-Wilhelm-Murnau-Stiftung

Past Dates

When in 1892 at the time of the emerging Wilhelminian Empire Gerhart Hauptmann wanted to stage his drama “Die Weber” about the Silesian weavers’ revolt of 1844 a performance ban was immediately imposed. In his drama, Gerhart Hauptmann presented a true picture of the times, of the wretched situation of the working population, their living conditions and frames of mind and their simple, sincere and unambiguous language.

In the Weimar Republic, too, the material lost none of its explosive nature. Friedrich Zelnik, known more as a director for commercial entertainment films, captured the spirit of the times with his filming of the drama, and surprised critics and audience alike with one of the best Hauptmann adaptations in German film history. This film – influenced by Eisenstein and Pudovkin, penned by scriptwriters Fanny Carlsen and Willy Haas, visually co-designed by Georg Grosz and played by excellent actors – comments on the economic and social instability of the second half of the 1920s, which Nationalism soon figured out how to instrumentalize for its own purposes.

It was only in 2011 with Johannes Kalitzke’s symphonic suite “Die Weber” that accompanying music was specifically composed for the newly restored film. It is more than merely an illustration of the cinematic plot: Johannes Kalitzke positions his music for the film as a critically observing and interpreting eye – focusing on the dialectic of the resistance. With allusions to genre typical elements and historically connoted topoi, such as marsh sounds, workers’ songs and a wide spectrum of instrumental and concrete sounds, the drama of the weavers portrayed in the film is transformed into a dismal sounding nightmare. Distressing and grotesque, the listener lives through the loss of human morality.

Johannes Kalitzke
Die Weber
Music cycle (2012) for the silent film with the same title by Friedrich Zelnik (1927)
after the play “Die Weber” (The Weavers) (1893/1894) by Gerhart Hauptmann

Ensemble Modern
Johannes Kalitzke, conductor
Norbert Ommer, sound direction

Commissioned by Theater Augsburg, Augsburger Philharmoniker, Ensemble Modern, Wiener Konzerthaus and Wien Modern
With the support of the Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau Foundation