Sound World – A Year in the Karajan Academy

Sound World – A Year in the Karajan Academy

Klangwütig - Ein Jahr an der Karajan-Akademie

Ein Film von Isabel Hahn und Silvia Palmigiano, 52 min., ZDF/ARTE 2022

available until 20.01.2023 in the ZDF Media Library

Nodoka Okisawa, Sara Ferrández and Lennard Czakaj are 3 out of 30 musicians who have landed a coveted place at the Karajan Academy, the training school associated with the Berlin Philharmonic. This means lessons and concerts with one of the best orchestras in the world. But it also means great expectations and a lot of pressure.

Violist Sara dreams of a solo career and is working on her YouTube channel. She wants to give young people an understanding of classical music. She wants to break taboos – since there are too many conventions in classical music that don’t make sense to her. Trumpeter Lennard does not come from a family of musicians. He got his first trumpet from his parents when he was eight years old. At the time he had a guilty conscience because he knew that the instrument was very expensive. Since then he ha sputs all his eggs in one basket and is hoping for a position in the orchestra. He doesn’t have a plan B. Nodoka is expecting a baby. She is again confronted with something that, in her opinion, has no place in music: A female conductor is not always accepted, especially a pregnant one… But then on the podium she forgets everything – and levitates…

 

Great Moments in Music | September 11, 2001: Hélène Grimaud in London

Great Moments in Music | September 11, 2001: Hélène Grimaud in London

Great Moments in Music September 11, 2001: Hélène Grimaud in London

A film by Holger Preusse & Philipp Quiring, ZDF/arte, 43 min., 2022

On September 11, 2001, two planes flew into the World Trade Center in New York and the world seemed to stop for a moment. This film about the concert by Hélène Grimaud and the Orchester de Paris conducted by Christoph Eschenbach at the Royal Albert Hall tells the story of how sadness and dismay became a pinnacle musical moment and underlines the unique ability of music to provide comfort in tragic moments.

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For the young French pianist Hélène Grimaud, September 11, 2001, was going to be a day of joy. She has travelled to London from her adopted home of New York to make her much-anticipated debut at the BBC Proms – the world’s biggest and perhaps best-known classical music festival. She is set to perform Ludwig van Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 4 with the Orchester de Paris conducted by Christoph Eschenbach.

But after the dress rehearsal in the Royal Albert Hall, everything changes in a single moment. In her hotel room, Hélène Grimaud watches the horrific images coming from New York. A plane has flown into the World Trade Center. “I thought it was the latest Hollywood horror production,” she remembers.

The conductor of the upcoming performance, Christoph Eschenbach, is having lunch with the French ambassador in London when he hears about the terrorist attack. He and the organiser of the Proms, Sir Nicholas Kenyon, have a decision to make: Can you really put on a concert on a day such as this?

Sir Kenyon remarks: “Cancelling a Proms concert is no minor undertaking. Even after the death of Lady Diana, we chose to go ahead with the performance. And the people came.” Christoph Eschenbach and Hélène Grimaud are also prepared to perform.

The hall begins to fill. The mood is sombre. For Hélène Grimaud, the events have laid a leaden cloak of sadness and shock over the evening “They gave a concert of peace,” comments pianist Sophie Pacini. And indeed, after sounding the opening G major chord with trembling fingers, Hélène Grimaud begins to play increasingly freely. “This moment of catastrophe and tension and questioning inspired her to a musical moment that was increasingly captivating.”

In the 2nd movement of Beethoven’s concerto, her playing is even vocal. The Royal Albert Hall is charged with excitement. The Proms audience holds its breath in shared emotion. It is a collective and communal experience that Orchester de Paris violist Estelle Villotte recalls more than two decades later. “I cried on my viola during the concert. But Christoph Eschenbach and Hélène Grimaud carried me through.”

The dance-like and playful third movement is a liberation. For a moment at least, the terrible images from New York appear outshone by Hélène Grimaud’s playing. And the mood changes. At the close of the piece, the audience responds with a standing ovation.

Dr. Stefan Pannen

Dr. Stefan Pannen

Dr. Stefan Pannen CEO

CEO berlin producers, heidefilm, neue artfilm, sounding images
Dr. Stefan Pannen

Contact:

+49 30 44 03 169 – 19
stefan.pannen[at]berlin-producers.de

 

Stefan Pannen founded his first production company in 1995. He began his career at the German School for Journalism and worked as a free lancer for commercial and public broadcasters in Germany, before he became an independent producer.

He is award wining director of over 100 films and has executive produced over 500.

Stefan manages marketing and development at berlin producers, Sounding Images and neue artfilm. He is  a member of the German and European Film Academy.

Sisi’s Heirs – The Children of Empress Elisabeth

Sisi’s Heirs – The Children of Empress Elisabeth

Sisis Erben – Die Kinder der Kaiserin Elisabeth

Ein Film von Martin Koddenberg, 52 min., ZDF/ARTE 2022

available until 20.01.2023 in the ZDF Media Library

A ‘Loving mother’? The real Empress Elisabeth of Austria is the exact opposite of what the legendary “Sissi” trilogy from the 1950s shows. Throughout her life, the eccentric Sisi put her own interests first. How does she live with her children?

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After her marriage to Emperor Franz Joseph I in 1854, Sisi feels the pressure of her relatives: the continuation of the dynasty depends on the young woman. A year later, at the age of 17, she gives birth to her first child, Sophie. But even the birth of the second daughter, Gisela, does not fulfill the expectations for a male successor. When Sophie dies during a trip to Hungary in 1857, deep cracks appear in the parents’ relationship.

Only the birth of the heir to the throne, Rudolf, in 1858 defuses the situation. Sisi then takes off and leaves for two years. Her children grow up without her during this time – when Sisi returns, they do not recognize “the strange woman”.

In 1868, Sisi gives birth to her fourth child, Marie Valerie, in what is now Budapest. This “Hungarian daughter” is smothered with love and affection by her mother. When she emancipates herself, she marries into the “scandalous line” of the Habsburgs, expresses herself in a German-national way. Nevertheless, with her nine children and numerous grandchildren, she ensures that the family is still widely branched out today.

Sisi was only just able to prevent Emperor Franz Joseph from raising the heir to the throne to become a strict soldier. From then on, the emperor keeps him away from all decisions. Rudolf takes refuge in a world of drugs and alcohol excesses. He kills himself and his mistress. Sisi is caught off guard: the empress has turned away more and more from her family. She lives in her own world, which consists mostly of traveling, horseback riding and writing poetry. Meanwhile, Emperor Franz Joseph worries about his fatherless granddaughter Elisabeth-Marie, known as “Erszi”. She becomes a rebel at the Viennese court. After the fall of the empire, she begins a new life in SPÖ circles and marries a representative of the Viennese working class.

The Voice of the Birds – Olivier Messiaen, Componist and Ornithologist

The Voice of the Birds – Olivier Messiaen, Componist and Ornithologist

The Voice of the Birds – Olivier Messiaen, Componist and Ornithologist

A film by Holger Preusse and Philipp Quiring, SWR/ARTE, 52 min, 2022
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For Olivier Messiaen, birds are “the greatest musicians inhabiting our planet”. Their endless melodies with the finest tonal gradations, their diverse singing and the infinite variety of rhythms are the lifeblood of the French musician. On the occasion of the 30th anniversary of his death on 27 April 2022, we tell Olivier Messiaen’s story from the perspective of the birds.

Messiaen became acquainted with birds at a young age, and when he came to Paris from the French provinces in his early 20s, they continued to flutter in his head. As organist of the parish church La Trinité in Paris, it is the birds that provide him with their songs, over which he improvises. Music lovers from all over Europe make a pilgrimage to see him. The premiere of his opera in Paris in 1983 is awaited with great excitement: In “Saint Francis of Assisi” (“Saint François d’Assise”), birds play a central role. For him, the birds are something metaphysical, a direct link to God.

Against the background of the “Voice of the Birds”, the film portrays the eventful life of the composer and ornithologist Messiaen through musical examples and narratives of selected interlocutors: There is conductor Kent Nagano, cellist Camille Thomas, Ondes Martenot interpreter Natalie Forget and organist Thomas Lacôte, Messiaen biographer Peter Hill, DJ and biologist Dominik Eulberg and, last but not least, Pierre-Laurent Aimard, who vividly explains selected passages from Messiaen’s “Catalogue d’oiseaux” (“Catalogue of Birds”).