January 5, 2019: RICHARD WAGNER (1913)

Preview of NSFF 2019 during the concert series ZOLDERKAMERTJESKLASSIEK

5 January 2019, 7:30 PM

Carl Froehlich, 72′

With original music by Guiseppe Becce

Performed by Daan van den Hurk (piano) and Maaike Peters (cello)

Guiseppe Becce as Richard Wagner

Director Carl Froehlich made this ‘biopic’ in honour of the 30th bereavement of Wagner. The life and work of Wagner are shown, somewhat dramatized as it should be in a movie. In this literally colourful film, we see Wagners journeys, his banishment to Switserland, his encouters with Franz Liszt and Giacomo Meyerbeer and all his major operaworks, which are shot in a fairylike manner.  

Like all films before 1930, this film is accompanied by live music. The talented film composer Guiseppe Becce (also the interpreter of Wagner) was assigned to make the music for this film. The original music of Wagner was originally meant to accompany the opera’s in the film. However, the filmmakers suffered a setback after finding out that the rights on Wagners music weren’t expired and Wagners heirs asked a gigantic amount of money for the music. But Becce found a solution. He composed and arranged music in Wagner’s opera style to accompany the film, he imitated the original melodies in such a way that they were still recognizable. Daan van den Hurk found a photocopy of Becce’s score, including the Wagner-imitations, in the archive of the EYE Film museum. The film will be accompanied by this original music, adapted to a version for piano and cello.

 The portrayal of Wagner is in line with how he was looked at in 1913. Wagners heirs, in particular his wife Cosima, and the daughter of composer Franz Liszt did everything to hold up Wagners reputation as high as possible. Therefore, the filmmakers are not to blame for the historically inaccuracies, they probably didn’t know any better. However, the broad lines of the film are historically accurate. Above all, the film is an ode to beautiful music, and for us, 100 years later, an ode to the beautiful music of Guiseppe Becce.