Archive for the ‘kurt tucholsky’ Category

story of a life

February 8, 2009

this post might does more explicitly bind music back to society, to history. and yes, it’s ms. knef as an example again. actress, singer – and writer. not only of good lyrics, for me in a rather french chanson tradition then in a german tradition. which is more a feeling then based on research. but somehow the attitude is…eeer…french. whatever that means. and then there is a french connection, too. but this is for later.

bookso – words. not only for songs, but ms. knef also wrote 2 books: an autobiography for half of her life, and a book about her having cancer. the first book, der geschenkte gaul, makes for a good read. there might be some difficulties regarding the mentioning of many names not very known anymore (well, if you did your homework on the last couple of posts, then many of them are not that unfamiliar), some names known. of course marlene plays a prominent role. but in a way i did not read it as hildegard kenf’s life story, but rather a life story. it is one testimonial about growing up in a totalitarian state, of just wanting to grow up, make a career, work what you enjoy. and the dry tone it is written in makes it a good read under this perspective. it is not apologetic, rather descriptive. and it leaves enough space to find ones own point of view. rather brechtian, right…

what fascinated me in this book, and that is why i do find stories like this important, is that i think i get a little bit a feel – or at least i start to see the huge distance to having grown up later, under very different circumstances. it is partly details that hit me: they haven’t been teached anything about german culture as we know it – either the writers and artist were jewish, or leftists, or suspect anyway…

of course there are also the more obvious differences, the tough experiences: her account about being bombed out – and again, ms knef is not playing for sympathy – it is more telling us what cards she got dealt… so a recommended read – not if you want to get a lot of gossip about stars, but if you want to read a story of a life in strange times that was already through these times an extraordinary life – but then also normal life – living it.

too lazy to read? well, listen to it. she actually recorded a reading of some of the excerpts – and yes, it is, read by hear, even more laconic. and it is a good selection – some harsh passages, some descriptive, and also some amusing anecdote about a not-greek, not-christian, not-jewish turtle…

just be aware: it is in german. otherwise you will have to buy the book (which has been translated in many languages).

hildegard kenf liest der geschenkte gaul – ripped from vinyl in four tracks, for each side one…


one artist ms knef only got to know pretty late (considering that i read his texts as a young teenager) is kurt tucholsky. and yes, she also recorded a record with his texts: most is pure text / reading, but there are also a handuful of songs on this record.

listening to it is interesting to note that tucholsky must have been a big influence on her writing lyrics…

well, have a listen for yourself. hildegard knef liest tucholsky you can get here.


request: kurt tucholsky

August 7, 2008

another request – and the place is very fitting: the german author kurt tucholsky was a great admirer of heinrich heine. and like heinrich heine kurt tucholsky was poetic, political, and witty, oscillating in his writings from the pure entertaining to the polemic to the lyrical. the century is now the 20th, but it was still – or again, dangerous to be a true moralist, to point out the cynicism of power, to worry about and criticize certain developements in society. consequently tucholsky’s books have been burned (together with books by heinrich heine and many other authors) by the nazis – but by then he already lived in sweden, where he also died in 1935. for more on kurt tucholsky: wikipedia is a good way to get started.

and this request also fits quite well because it has been published in a series not of poesie und musik, but literatur und musik. on this record there are only two spoken passages, the rest are songs, most of them composed by hanns eisler. the interpreter is the german actor wolfgang reichmann, who was born just three years before tucholsky’s death. wolfgang reichmann himself died in 1991. he was primarly a “tv-actor”, but played also in many movies – the most know directors he worked under might be orson welles (the proces), and werner herzog.

and then it is a very good occassion to point you into the direction of the very interesting zero g sound-blog. not only did he post already interpretations of songs with lyrics by kurt tucholsky, together with quite a bit of information, but he just posted also some more works by the composer hanns eisler. AND he also just posted a record by brühwarm – a collaboration of the very gay theather group brühwarm with ton steine scherben / rio reiser. obviously highly recommended!

starting with kurt tucholsky i will post some more on artists of the 20th century. i have been listening and then also researching once more quite a bit of different biographies of artists that lived through these difficult times. and well, it is in many ways very interesting. somehow it also takes again the thread up of some music i posted earlier like sein and element of crime. music that refers to a heritage the nazis tried to eliminate… and it some ways it also fits with my more focused interest in gay history that has been due to a couple of books and texts sparked again. more about that later.

so – for now i propose you some songs with kurt tucholsky and wolfgang reichmann – ripped again from one of my many vinyls, including the cover scans. get it here! and enjoy!