NIBELUNGEN, PART 1: SIEGFRIED

OT: DIE NIBELUNGEN. Teil 1: SIEGFRIEDS TOD
Germany, 1924, Drama/Fantasy

Larger than life, built upon the Norse legends of the Middle Ages, and enhanced by the striking imagery of the German expressionist movement, SIEGFRIED is a monumental spectacle. In preparing the tale of Siegfried, Lang put to full use the cinematographic innovations and creative visions of the artists of Decla-Bioscop. The towering trees, treasure-filled caves, and seventy-foot dragon were constructed in full scale within the studio walls. The special effects artists devised innovative matte and mirror effects when the scope of action was too immense to be confined to an indoor set. As a result, SIEGFRIED is as impressive for its suspenseful retelling of the 13th Century legend as for the technical wizardry that brought it to life seven hundred years later.

This epochal film and music work has been reworked for major orchestral performances in cooperation between the Friedrich-Wilhelm-Murnau-Stiftung, ZDF/ARTE and the European Filmphilharmonic Institute, and a comprehensive research of all available film material worldwide has resulted in a brilliant, originally tinted screening copy in 35mm.

Music: Gottfried Huppertz’s NIBELUNGEN music is one of the great, style-defining works of early film music. With his first film music he immediately had to master a great challenge: almost five hours of music for symphonic orchestra. Huppertz had initially hesitated to accept the commission because he feared that his music would never be perceived independently of Richard Wagner, while the task – as well as Fritz Lang’s expectations – was quite different: namely to write a music that primarily meets the requirements of the medium of film and that musically continues the concept according to which Thea von Harbou and Fritz Lang prepared and filmed the great material.

The success proved the trio right. Gottfried Huppertz wrote a music that only remotely resembles Richard Wagner and which above all creates a sound space that suggestively increases the impact of the story. Huppertz’s NIBELUNGEN music works like a three-dimensional frame in which the film runs very precisely in terms of tempo and movement and in which the strongly ornamentalized choreography can unfold impressively. With a relatively small supply of themes, the music illuminates the space, making it larger and smaller, producing presence and timelessness, while giving the story something static and fatalistic. Although Huppertz makes use of the leitmotif technique for figures, actions and symbols, he deals with these motifs differently from Strauss or Wagner with their transcendental principle of continuation.

The entire music was transferred into a newly edited performance material, edited from a film musicological perspective. This is now available synchronously to the restored image version, for a symphonic orchestral instrumentation, and with over two thousand synchronous and most precise tempo and metronome indications, it enables a historically fair performance practice of the work.

Story: Siegfried is a young blacksmith apprentice and the son of King Siegmund of the Nibelungen. He sets off to the court of King Gunther of Worms to win Princess Kriemhild’s hand in marriage. He encounters and slays a dragon and bathes in its blood, which makes him invulnerable apart from a small area on his back. Then he defeats Alberich, the treasurer of the Nibelungen dynasty. Knowing of Siegfried’s successes, King Gunther promises the young adventurer Kriemhild’s hand in marriage with one string attached. He requests that Siegfried help him win Queen Brunhild’s hand in marriage. When Brunhild discovers that Siegfried and Gunther have deceived her she sends Hagen to kill Siegfried. While hunting in the Odenwald, Hagen shoots young Siegfried in the back with a spear. Princess Kriemhild swears revenge…

Composition:

Gottfried Huppertz (1924) / new arranged by Frank Strobel and Marco Jovic (2010)

large orchestra (46 musicians and more)

Instrumentation: 1+1/picc.1+1/ca.1+1/bcl.2 – 4.2.3.1 – timp.3perc.hrp.pno – strings

Duration: 147 min.

fps sync: 20