Composing for the Screen in Germany and the USSR

Composing for the Screen in Germany and the USSR

Cultural Politics and Propaganda
Edited by Edited by Robynn J. Stilwell and Phil Powrie
Distribution: Global
Publication date: 12/26/2007
Format: Paperback 10 b&w illus.
ISBN: 978-0-253-21954-1
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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.

Author Bio

Phil Powrie is Professor of French Cultural Studies at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne. Most recently, he is co-author (with Bruce Babington, Ann Davies, and Chris Perriam) of Carmen on Film: A Cultural History (IUP, 2007).

Robynn Stilwell is Assistant Professor of Music in the Department of Art, Music and Theatre at Georgetown University. She is co-editor (with Phil Powrie) of Changing Tunes: The Use of Pre-existing Music in Film.


“Authors Powrie and Stillwell offer an in-depth look into the intersection of film and music in Russia and Germany. ”

“Music became a key ingredient in the propaganda machines developed by the National Socialists and Stalin, an art both to regulate and exploit. Indeed, it is impossible to speak of film music in these countries during the early sound era without considering the political implications of compositional choice and the relationship between music and image.”
 — from the introduction

“Composing for the Screen in Germany and the USSR offer[s] the first scholarly discussion of German and Soviet film music under a single cover, foregrounding numerous social and aesthetic parallels between these two countries at a time when movies were beginning to talk. Vol. 4, No. 3”
 — Studies in Russian and Soviet Cinema

“. . . a valuable contribution to the growing body of film-music scholarship.Vol 32.2 May 2009”
 — Stephen Meyer , Syracuse University

“. . . [an] interesting collection of essays . . . .July 2009”
 — Anselm C. Heinrich, Department of Theatre, Film and Television Studies, University of Glasgow

“Sampling a wide range of cinematic time and space, Composing for the Screen in Germany and the USSR leave no doubt that we have yet much to discover about the complex relationship between film music and 'cultural politics' and that the expertise and point of view which musicologists and, particularly, film music scholars bring to the discourse is invaluable. 54.3 Fall 2010”
 — Slavic and East European Journal

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Table of Contents



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