Germany, 1927, Experimental

BERLIN: SYMPHONY OF A METROPOLIS was considered a revolutionary, avant-garde film experiment in its day. Today, conversely, this silent-film is considered a classic in film history. It illustrates one single day in the metropolis Berlin and is absorbed with the lifestyle of the 1920ies. His fascination with the typical characteristics of the golden 20ies, a fast moving city, vibrant and full of life is portrayed with excellence.

A film without a cast of actors, in which the main character is the colossal city Berlin. Life and daily activity were partially filmed with a hidden camera. Edmund Meisel’s music was composed specifically for this film. According to the composer, the music attempts to objectively use rhythm and melody from every sequence of events and combine it with this already musically developed film.

The external framework is the life of the metropolis from morning until midnight. At first, one senses the atmosphere of the city; a long-distance train travels through the suburbs, making us increasingly aware of the proximity of the colossus, shots of the journey, motion filmed with amazing technical skill, symbolize our rushing towards the metropolis. The station, the dawn, Berlin! Gradually it awakens. The earliest workers sparsely populate the streets. It grows in a crescendo, highlights fall on the centers of morning life, on stations, factories, road junctions. Characteristic types are captured everywhere. And like an accompanying tune, we have sections from the private lives of big-city people, houses waking up, apartments coming to life. Midday arrives, evening arrives, again and again the objective fits to situations full of life, stealing the heart of them. The photographer penetrates all areas, all districts, all social classes. Night falls, sections from the dark existence of Berlin, flashes of light over the darkest periphery. Until the night gently covers over this incomparably seething life with its calm veil of stars.


Edmund Meisel / Mark-Andreas Schlingensiepen (1990)

Ensemble (1 – 15 musicians)
Instrumentation: 1/picc+1/picc/afl.1/ca.1/ebcl+1/basscl.1/contrabassoon – – perc(min. 2 players).pno.sopranosax/asax/tsax – bass special instruments: two bottles to blow in c# and d
Duration: 65 min.
fps sync: 20

piano score by Edmund Meisen, synchronously arranged and supplemented by Bernd Thewes (2007)

large orchestra (46 musicians and more)
Besetzung: 2+Picc.2+ca.2+bcl.ssax.tsx.2+cbn – – timp.perc.JazzCombo: cnt.tsx.tbn.pno.acn.bjo.db.dmkit – hp.cel+pno-strings
Duration: 65 min.

Performances (selection):
06/03/2020 Dortmund Philharmonic Orchestra / Konzerthaus Dortmund
03/15/2017 Radio Symphony Orchestra Berlin / Alte Oper Frankfurt (LONG NIGHT)
10/29/2015 Radio Symphony Orchestra Berlin / Admiralspalast Berlin
09/26/2015 Orchestre Philharmonique de Strasbourg / Paris
10/02/2015 Orchestre Philharmonique de Strasbourg / Strasbourg
06/27/2015 Philharmonie Essen / Theater und Philharmonie Essen
03/22/2015 Konzerthaus Berlin