Composing for the Screen in Germany and the USSR
173 pages
English

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173 pages
English

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Description

An innovative look into the intersection of film and music in Russia and Germany


Despite the long history of music in film, its serious academic study is still a relatively recent development and therefore comprises a limited body of work. The contributors to this book, drawn from both film studies and musicology, attempt to rectify this oversight by investigating film music from the vibrant, productive, politically charged period before World War II. They apply a variety of methodologies—including archival work, close readings, political histories, and style comparison—to this under explored field.


Contents

Introduction

Part 1. Germany
1. Film Music in the Third Reich Robert E. Peck
2. Herbert Windt's Film Music to Triumph of the Will: Ersatz-Wagner or Incidental Music to the Ultimate Nazi-Gesamtkunstwerk? Reimar Volker
3. Alban Berg, Lulu, and the Silent Film Marc Weiner
4. From Revolution to Mystic Mountains: Edmund Meisel and the Politics of Modernism Christopher Morris
5. New Technologies and Old Rites: Dissonance between Picture and Music in Readings of Joris Ivens's Rain Ed Hughes
6. "Composition with Film": Mauricio Kagel as Filmmaker Björn Heile

Part 2. The USSR
7. Eisenstein's Theory of Film Music Revisited: Silent and Early Sound Antecedents Julie Hubbert
8. Aleksandr Nevskiy: Prokofiev's Successful Compromise with Socialist Realism Rebecca Schwartz-Bishir
9. In Marginal Fashion: Sex, Drugs, Russian Modernism, and New Wave Music in Liquid Sky Mitchell Morris

List of Contributors
Index

Sujets

Informations

Publié par
Date de parution 26 décembre 2007
Nombre de lectures 0
EAN13 9780253028679
Langue English

Informations légales : prix de location à la page 0,0500€. Cette information est donnée uniquement à titre indicatif conformément à la législation en vigueur.

Extrait

C OMPOSING FOR THE S CREEN IN G ERMANY AND THE USSR
CULTURAL POLITICS AND PROPAGANDA
COMPOSING FOR THE SCREEN IN GERMANY AND THE USSR
EDITED BY ROBYNN J. STILWELL AND PHIL POWRIE
Indiana University Press Bloomington & Indianapolis
This book is a publication of
Indiana University Press 601 North Morton Street Bloomington, IN 47404-3797 USA
http://iupress.indiana.edu
Telephone orders 800-842-6796 Fax orders 812-855-7931 Orders by e-mail iuporder@indiana.edu
© 2008 by Indiana University Press All rights reserved
No part of this book may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying and recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher. The Association of American University Presses’ Resolution on Permissions constitutes the only exception to this prohibition.
The paper used in this publication meets the minimum requirements of American National Standard for Information Sciences—Permanence of Paper for Printed Library Materials, ANSI Z39.48-1984.
Manufactured in the United States of America
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Composing for the screen in Germany and the USSR: cultural politics and propaganda / edited by Robynn Stilwell and Phil Powrie. p. cm. Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN 978-0-253-34976-7 (cloth) ISBN 978-0-253-21954-1 (pbk.) 1. Motion picture music—Germany—History and criticism. 2. Motion picture music—Soviet Union—History and criticism. 3. Music and state. I. Stilwell, Robynn Jeananne. II. Powrie, Phil. ML2075.C66 2007 781.5′420943—dc22
C ONTENTS
Introduction
PART 1  ·  GERMANY
1 Film Music in the Third Reich · Robert E. Peck
2 Herbert Windt’s Film Music to Triumph of the Will : Ersatz-Wagner or Incidental Music to the Ultimate Nazi- Gesamtkunstwerk ? · Reimar Volker
3 Alban Berg, Lulu , and the Silent Film · Marc A. Weiner
4 From Revolution to Mystic Mountains: Edmund Meisel and the Politics of Modernism · Christopher Morris
5 New Technologies and Old Rites: Dissonance between Picture and Music in Readings of Joris Ivens’s Rain · Ed Hughes
6 “Composition with Film”: Mauricio Kagel as Filmmaker · Björn Heile
PART 2  ·  THE USSR
7 Eisenstein’s Theory of Film Music Revisited: Silent and Early Sound Antecedents · Julie Hubbert
8 Aleksandr Nevskiy : Prokofiev’s Successful Compromise with Socialist Realism · Rebecca Schwartz-Bishir
9 In Marginal Fashion: Sex, Drugs, Russian Modernism, and New Wave Music in Liquid Sky · Mitchell Morris
List of Contributors
Index
I NTRODUCTION
 
As a medium, cinema is now over a century old; the musical genre of “film music” is at least that old, arguably older than the medium itself, extending back through magic lantern shows and Victorian melodrama into the entire history of theatrical presentation. Music provides shock absorbers for the suspension of disbelief and an underlining, highlighting, underscoring of visual and verbal signals from the abstract and structural to the narrative and emotional. The vocabulary and syntax of musical gesture has changed less than those of the visual medium to which it has been allied, and much of its specificity (and even its generality) has been taken as given.
Despite the long history of film music, serious academic study is still fairly new, really only coming into its own as a discipline in the past two decades. That is not to say that there has not been a substantial amount written on the relationship between music and the screen, but for much of the past century, it has been mostly prescriptive, occasionally descriptive, and only recently analytical. Because of the relative volume of the writing, there is a tendency to think we know what the history and technique of film music is, or at least that the ground has been fairly well mapped.
The problem with this conception is that it breaks down so quickly. For one thing, there is not so much a “body” of literature as a wealth of materials scattered among trade papers, fan magazines, philosophical treatises, and only occasionally music journals. 1 Much of the writing, particularly during the decade of the 1920s, is of a practical nature, as music directors from studios and theaters, from the centers and the front lines alike, discussed the technique of accompanying silent movies. At the same time, film theorists were struggling to understand their new medium and its specificity, including the reasons (some implicit, some explicit) why another medium—music—seemed so intricately intertwined with the flickering images on the silver screen. Once sound film and the modern technique of film composition, wedding sound and image on a single strip of film, became well-established by the beginning of World War II, both the broader aesthetic musings of the philosopher and the nuts-and-bolts technical writing of the composer and musician dwindled and a middle-ground critical literature arose. However, the split between those who are interested in film as a medium (who often ignore the sonic element, including music) and the musically inclined (who often ignore the screen) remains a consistent divide even today.
Undoubtedly the period in which the relationship between image, narrative, and music was under the greatest scrutiny in the literature was that surrounding the coming of sound. Everything that had been established in the fledgling film medium was thrown into question. The flexibility and multiplicity of performative film music—each audience was presented with a potentially different and new experience—was reduced to a single multi-faceted, repeatable work, an experience somewhere between a theatrical piece and a painting. This had obvious disadvantages in its limitation to a single statement, but also great advantages in the relative flexibility of the act of composition. The interaction of the various interrelated media shifted from the point of performance and reception to that of conception and creation. For those who would argue that film was an art, not merely a commercial commodity, this was a significant shift of control, in line with many impulses within modernist artistic circles.
Of course, this period of flux in film production and aesthetics took place during one of the greatest periods of political upheaval of the twentieth century. Film as a modern art emerged after World War I and the Soviet Revolution of 1917, and the transition to sound occurred roughly a decade later as the political forces that led to World War II began to converge. It is perhaps not surprising that the two countries that produced the highest concentration of serious writing on the subject of film music were Germany and the USSR.
By the advent of sound film, both Germany and the USSR had distinct national cinemas that were thriving: Germany had a level of production and refinement of style rivaled only by Hollywood; the Soviet Union, although more restricted by the technology and its own deprivation of the time, had some of the most vigorous and adventurous thinkers engaged in debate about cinema and the arts more broadly. Both the German and Russian cultures were long predisposed to explicit theorizing about aesthetics and the role of the arts in society; and political developments in these two nations brought art’s role in society directly into question at a time when cinema was emerging as a major art and changing so fundamentally in its constitution as a multimedia art.
The volume of writing by such key figures as Sergei Eisenstein, Theodor Adorno, and Hanns Eisler, and the overtly political context of the music and films produced in those countries at this time, has led us, perhaps, to an over-confidence that we really know about the film music of the period. How did the theorizing stack up to the practice of film scoring?
This question can be posed at a number of levels, from the positioning of the theorist in the political/industrial structure to the details of the finished film-music product. Eisenstein embraced communism but was often in conflict with Stalin’s regime over everything from the usual attacks of “formalism” to essentially commercial issues such as budgeting and resources; his writings are prescriptive and written alongside the development of sound-film technique and aesthetics, and as such are tinged with optimism and idealism. Eisler’s communist ideals brought him more sharply in conflict with the Nazi Party (and later the U.S. House Un-American Activities Committee); he was writing after escaping Germany and on the cusp of the Cold War, and his distaste for the industrial practices of Hollywood tinges—and sometimes paints in broad brushes—his comments in Composing for the Films with frustration and resistance. A lack of proper attention to that context can cause one to overlook salient details in Eisler’s own film scores: for example, reading his proscription of the technique, one would assume that Hanns Eisler would never utilize mickey-mousing—the close correlation of musical line and rhythm to onscreen movement—in his film scores; one would be wrong, as there are certainly examples in several of his scores. While it may be occasionally amusing to observe the gap between what a theorist says and what that theorist as a composer does (“don’t do as I do, do as I say”), the gap also may enlighten us about the pervasiveness of certain music-image relationships as well as national

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