Gottfried Huppertz was born in Köln, Germany on March 11, 1887. There He studied music in a conservatory, and in 1905 wrote his first composition, a song titled “Rankende Rosen” (Tendrillar Roses), which he dedicated to his childhood friend Rudolf Klein-Rogge. Huppertz, around 1918 Gottfried Huppertz in Fritz Lang’s Dr. MabuseDuring WWI Huppertz worked as an opera singer and theater actor in Coburg, Freiburg and Breslau, and also wrote some music for the theater. In 1920 Huppertz moved to Berlin and began acting at the Nollendorfplatz Theater, and shortly afterwards met his future wife, Charlotte Lindig. During that period, Huppertz was also recorded singing two songs with other singers as promotion for the operetta “Verliebte Leute,” which was released in 1922 on a 78rpm record. In Berlin he also met Rudolf Klein-Rogge’s wife, Thea von Harbou, and subsequently director Fritz Lang, who became close friends to the point Huppertz, his wife, Von Harbou, and Lang were together nearly every night in the wild cultural life of Berlin. The professional collaboration between Lang and Huppertz started where Lang hired Huppertz as an actor for two small roles in the films “Vier um die Frau” and “Dr. Mabuse Der Spieler,” and knowing Huppertz’ musical talent, once he turned to make his two-part epic film “Die Nibelungen,” he had opted to use Huppertz as the composer. Huppertz, on the other hand, initially refused the job and only after reviewing the script was Huppertz convinced that the film was independent of the Opera and based on the Volksaga. He then wrote music for the film using a copy of Von Harbou’s script that she personally handed to him.
On February 14, 1924 came the premiere of the first part of the film. While Huppertz finished the music on time for the premiere, Lang, on the other hand, didn’t finish editing the film and was working on it during the grand premiere. The reels had to be delivered to the cinema with police escort for each of them to reach on time, which created long pauses between each reel. The conductor at the premiere, Ernö Rapée, had hardest time of his life conducting the 60-piece orchestra, as last minute changes didn’t fit the synchronization cues written to the score by Huppertz. Needless to say, the premiere was a catastrophe. For the second part of the film, it was even worse, and the last reel of the movie wasn’t shown at all at its premiere as it took too much time. Unlike in Germany, however, in France it was decided, much to Lang’s dissatisfaction, to use Wagner’s music to accompany the film. Lang in response published a declaration asserting his respect for Wagner (Actually, Lang, who didn’t like classical music very much, had an especially passionate hatered towards Wagner, while Huppertz was considered one of his favorite composers): “I voluntarily chose a composer who knew cinema, interested in it and even performing it. I asked him to write an original score for the film, this artist, this specialist is called Gottfried Huppertz. He is young and his many lieder have given him a much deserved reputation”. Despite the declaration, in the U.S it was also decided to use an adaptation of Wagner’s opera, the one which was subsequently released on 78rpm records, and is considered the first soundtrack release in the world (According to the “Guinness Film Facts and Feats”, 1981).
After the success of “Die Nibelungen,” Huppertz was hired to work on the soundtrack of “Zur Chronik von Grieshuus,” for which von Harbou had written the script (A score which had an important contribution to the atmosphere, Dr. K. M., Lichtbild-Bühne, Nr. 7, 14.2.1925). While working on the soundtrack, Huppertz also took part in many meetings with Lang and von Harbou in which they discussed the script of their next film, “Metropolis,” and already begun developing musical themes for it.Huppertz plays the piano on the set of Metropolis This close collaboration continued during the filming of Metropolis where Huppertz was constantly on the set, a thing very unusual for the time. Huppertz used to play the piano during filming, as one of the things Lang liked was to time the action of the actors using numbers, and the background music was to be used as tempo. A little known fact, however, Is that in addition to composing the music, Huppertz also had a small acting part in the film as a Violin player in Yoshiwara. On September 1926 Huppertz finished to write the music for Metropolis, and by late December, after the film was approved by the censors, the complete synchronized score was ready. Premiere took place on January 10, 1927, with music delivered by a 66 piece orchestra, and at its end: “Unending applause brought the creators and the production staff to the apron stage over and over again, including Gottfried Huppertz, who put up the background music and conducted himself.” (Der Film, Berlin, vol. 12, no. 1, 15 Jan 1927, p. 5-6) .Huppertz, holding the printed version of the Metropolis score “The music by Gottfried Huppertz gives a rough idea of the events while storming forward with them…” said novelist Norbert Jacques, who was present at the premiere, “it is big, clear and strong.” In January alone 7 published articles focused about Huppertz’ music, 2 in March, and 3 more during the rest of the year (one in April, August and September). Criticisms were so good that it was then decided to release Huppertz’ music for Metropolis on a set of two 78rpm records under the VOX label, making it the first commercial soundtrack release in Germany. The first record was 12” in size and contained on the first side a spoken introduction by Fritz Lang (exact content unknown), and on the second side several themes from the film: Metropolis, Moloch, Fredersen, Freder, and the Yoshiwara Foxtrot. Second record was 10” and contained on the first side the Waltz (Of the eternal garden), and on the second side the Fantastic dance/Dance of death (Music heard when the Robot dances in Yoshiwara). Metropolis the film, however, didn’t get many favorable reviews andHuppertz in Fritz Lang’s Spione after the grand premiere was shown in only one theater until closing in May. The film was then shortened by a quarter, and a re-release was set for August the same year. Huppertz then readapted his musical score for the new editing of the film, though at the end the music that accompanied the film contained only few of his themes and the rest was made of music by Chopin and few pieces by Giuseppe Becces. Metropolis was the second and last Fritz Lang film for which Huppertz composed music, as all of Lang’s following films were made with a considerably smaller budget and he simply couldn’t afford Huppertz anymore. The Last professional collaboration between the two would be in “Spione,” where Huppertz again had a small role in the film as a Violin player, echoing his cameo in “Metropolis” which was cut in the shortened version, though afterwards they still remained very close friends. Huppertz had a small pause taken from film music and focused mainly on composing original music and also creating adaptations for chamber orchestra and piano reductions of musical pieces by other composers, especially Grieg. In 1932 Huppertz was hired to record his 1924 music for Fritz Lang’s “Die Nibelungen” for a shortened sound adaptation of the film produced by Franz B. Biermann under the name “Siegfrieds Tod.” The film’s length was reduced to roughly 82 minutes and in addition to Huppertz’ music actor Theodor Loos was hired to narrate the film. Around the release of “Siegfrieds Tod,” Fritz Lang was invited by Joseph Goebbels to become Germany’s leading director, after which Lang decided to leave Germany. Lang then tried to convince Huppertz to follow him out of Germany, but Huppertz who was simply too nostalgic about Berlin felt he couldn’t leave and decided to stay.
In August 1933 “Der Judas von Tirol,” which featured Rudolf Klein-Rogge, was released and was Huppertz’ first sound film work.Movie program The film, apparently, was a disaster in the making and ended with haters between the cast, crew and the director to a level that none of them wanted to work with each other ever again. None the less the film was released in the U.S in 1935 under the title “The Judas of Tyrol,” making it the only time during Huppertz’ lifetime his music was properly heard in the U.S. The following project for Huppertz was composing for Then von Harbou’s first directorial effort, “Elisabeth und der Narr” (late 1933), which also had its share of problems; this time with the censorship who claimed it offends religious feelings. The film was forbidden and went through several cuts by the censorship, eventually getting thoroughly negative reviews in the press and failing in performance. Huppertz was also on Von Harbou’s next feature, “Hanneles Himmelfahrt” (early 1934), a film for children that was sent at least 3 times for censorship and was forbidden for children every time. Eventually it did even more poorly than Harbou’s first film, and was actually such a complete flop that Harbou’s next film project was cancelled.
Huppertz’ next project, a year an a half later, was the bilingual production of “Der grüne Domino”/”Le Domino vert” (1935), which was made in both German and French versions. Here lays another connection to Thea von Harbou, as her brother Horst von Harbou was hired on the set as a still photographer. The movie contained some known music (by Strauss) but mostly had Huppertz’s original compositions (including a Foxtrot set to a song by Hans Fritz Beckmann).Poster Even though it was a successful film, like Huppertz’ other sound films this one is almost completely forgotten, and is only remembered by it’s French version for the performance of actress Danielle Darrieux. The next film to which Huppertz composed was “Durch die Wüste”; the first sound film based on a novel of famous German author Karl May. The film which was filmed in Berlin and on location in Egypt and Libya, originally had Thea von Harbou as the scenarist (she always admired May’s stories), but she was replaced in a very early stage of the pre-production by Carl Junghans. The film, despite high potencial, was a failure due to bad direction, acting, and a script that gave the story a fragmented feeling. The film was released on February 20, 1936, and on February 7, 1937, less then a year after the premiere, Gottfried Huppertz died of a heart attack, forgotten for almost 40 years until rediscovered due to his early film work of Die Nibelungen and Metropolis. He left a wife behind him.
Edited by Kershlaus91 on 20 Mar 2011, 23:27
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