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Bertolt Brecht «Lindberghflug» | Original radio setting
Bertolt Brecht, «Lindberghflug», 1929
Original radio setting | © Bertolt Brecht

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Categories: radio | Sound

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icon: authorGolo Föllmer «Audio Art»

Germany | 19' 08" | Der Lindberghflug (T: Bertolt Brecht, K: Paul Hindemith und Kurt Weill) Radiophonische Kantate für Soli, Chor und Orchester; Lt. Hermann Scherchen mit Betty Mergler, Erik Wirl , Fritz Düttbernd u.a. 18.3.1930 / DRA Ffm 1850379/4; 19'08" | Archive / Collection: Deutsches Rundfunkarchiv, Frankfurt/Main

 Bertolt Brecht

«Der Lindberghflug» (The Lindbergh Flight) was written for the Baden-Baden Chamber Music Festival in 1929. The programme included «Amateur Music» and «Original Compositions for Radio.» Bertolt Brecht's epic libretto presents the first successful flight across the Atlantic, by Charles Lindbergh in 1927, as a symbol of the individual's power in society. The music was by Kurt Weill and Paul Hindemith. The world première on 27.7.1929 was a purely radiophonic event: the piece was transmitted into several surrounding rooms from a space that had been temporarily converted into a broadcasting studio. For a concert performance on the following day Brecht divided the stage into two halves: the ensemble, chorus and speakers were placed on the left-hand side («The Radio»), and on the right, separated by a screen, sat Josef Witt in his shirt-sleeves to represent «The Listener» and declaim the sung part of Lindbergh. In the radiophonic version this was actually supposed to have been realized by each listener in person, sitting by his own radio set at home.
For later performances, Brecht proposed that school classes, for example, should study the work and then complete a version broadcast without the aviator's part. This communication experiment with the Atlantic flight attracted some attention, but not much of a concrete response. Even so, the Deutsche Welle presumably derived their programme called «Making music with invisible partners» from it. Here chamber music works played without the full complement of instruments invited listeners to play the missing parts by their radios at home.


Golo Föllmer