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Paul Dessau: Let's hope for the best

Author: sounding images

0000: Violinist, composer and conductor, living through two world wars, caught between east and west, capitalism and communism: German artist Paul Dessau.

  • Paul Dessau: Let’s hope for the best | Copyright: © Bundesarchiv

    © Bundesarchiv

  • Paul Dessau: Let’s hope for the best | Copyright: © Deutschland Paris. Bibliothèque Nationale

    © Deutschland Paris. Bibliothèque Nationale

violinist, composer and conductor
living through two world wars
Caught between east and west,
capitalism and communism

He is a soldier and a prodigy on the violin. Later, he pens operettas and creates theatre and film music for Leni Riefenstahl, Bertolt Brecht and Walt Disney. He lives variously in Germany, France and the USA, and after the Second World War moves to the GDR as a committed communist. There, he is celebrated as a composer but finds himself in conflict with the authorities. Pendulum-like, his life swings between West and East, between capitalism and communism. The remarkable and glittering life of Paul Dessau is more than a good story – it cries out for the medium of film. It traces a life in which the ever-shifting history of the two Germanys through the 20th century is viewed as if under a magnifying glass. It is an encounter with an exceptional man and his music: A non-conformist personality, whose character could be tremendously affectionate, laconic and funny, as well as edgy, gnarled and uncompromising – just as his sound cosmos. The documentary by Anne-Kathrin Peitz treads on unexplored cinematic territory, since this is the first thorough portrait of the German composer Paul Dessau.

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