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Original Music Score for The Loves of Pharaoh

Lubitsch authorized Eduard Künneke to compose an original music score for his film. Künneke presented a symphonic orchestra score that fortunately survives to a large degree. The music score not only shows the variations of Künneke’s composing talent, it perfectly supports the characters in each part of the dramatic storyline. Künneke’s original score, which was kept with his legal estate, was used to produce a new orchestral recording, adapted and synched to the restored film images.
Künneke composed music for the silent film The Loves of Pharaoh in the winter of 1921/1922. On December 23rd 1921 he wrote in a letter: „Today I finished the 1st act - another 5 to go. I'm working like a devil“. Künneke’s goal was to achieve a symphonic unity not dependent on the succession of images and scenes whilst respecting the integrity of the film. He divided the action according to dramatic events rather than following protagonists. He thus avoided creating a musical patchwork dependent on the fast change of mood and images. He created motifs for the love of the young heroes, for the brutality of the Pharaoh, the fierceness of the Ethiopians or the war riot. Image by image the characteristic motifs for a given theme are repeated.



Eduard Künneke - a versatile composer

(text excerpts from music historian Sabine Müller)
Eduard Künneke was born in Emmerich on the Niederrhein river in Germany in 1885. From 1903 Künneke studied piano and thereafter composition in Berlin. Encouraged by his teacher Max Bruch, Künneke turned to opera and musical theatre. His opera Robins Ende premiered successfully in Mannheim in 1909. Künneke’s search for an individual composition style was marked by his engagement with various forms of musical theatre, song genres and composition for film music. Until 1919 he found employment as bandmaster and choirmaster at various Berlin theatres (amongst others the German Theater/Friedrich-Willhelmstättisches Theater). During this time Künneke also conducted and accompanied numerous disc recordings. In 1919 Künneke became Hermann Haller’s in-house composer at the Nollendorfplatz theatre. Together with librettist Rideamus the trio produced five operettas. Amongst them Der Vetter aus Dingsda (The Cousin from Nowhere, 1921) – a worldwide success and a work with which Künneke is associated almost exclusively to this day. Motivated by his success, Künneke commited to the operetta genre in the 1920s and 1930s. With his work he displayed an enormous gift for adaptation to the prevalent style in popular music of the time.
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With Liselott, Glückliche Reise (Happy Voyage), Die Lockende Flamme, Herz über Bord, Ehe im Kreise (Marriage in Crisis) and Lady Hamilton he created veritable works of popular theatre. During his time in New York (1924-1925) he composed a successful operetta based on Offenbach's Life and Music entitled The Love Song. Künneke aspired to integrate various elements from popular music to jazz in his compositions. The composer also applied his art to the filmic medium writing music for over 30 sound films. In the pre-war years (1933-1935) Künneke was partially boycotted and his work was shown to a lesser extent. This was due to his marriage to singer Katarina Garden who was of Jewish origin. After the war Künneke was unable to return to his earlier success. He remained active in arts administration until his death in 1953 in Berlin.


New Recording of the Original Music Score

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In 2011 ZDF/ARTE initiated a coproduction with ALPHA-OMEGA digital and managed to enlist WDR for the new recording of the sound score. The Cologne WDR Rundfunkorchester was conducted by renowned expert on musical accompaniment to silent film, Frank Strobel.

Interview with Frank Strobel (in German) on the ARTE website.

The German premiere of the restored version of the film takes place at the Neues Museum in Berlin on September17th, 2011. The film will premiere on TV on ARTE, September 26th, 2011.

Thanks to a fruitful collaboration of ALPHA-OMEGA, WDR and ZDF/ARTE for the first time in 80 years audiences are now able to see an almost complete film, extensively restored and accompanied by a high-class recording of the original score.


News
About the Film
Restoration Case Study
Music
DVD & BluRay