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Karl-May-Forum • View topic - Soundtrack Album Forms & Winnetou-Music

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 Post subject: Soundtrack Album Forms & Winnetou-Music
PostPosted: Sun Jun 10, 2007 9:33 am 
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In the topic “The Music of Winnetou”, a list of some currently available CDs and CD sets was provided. It might be useful to clarify, for those not familiar with the way film scores are marketed, that film score albums (to-day on CD, of course) come in two general forms:

(1) The “Soundtrack Album”. This type of album originated in the day of the LP record. In its purest form, it consisted of the actual recordings of music that were used on the soundtrack of a particular film, and the recordings were presented in the chronological sequence of the film (sometimes with minor adjustments to increase consumer appeal, such as presenting the title theme first, even if it was not the first music to play on the film). In many cases, a film had more music than would fit on an LP record, so much material was left off (especially what is called “source music”: this is music that is not part of the “background” score, but was supposed to actually be playing in particular scenes, such as the music of a piano player in a saloon). In many, “less-pure”, versions of the soundtrack album, the sequence of the recordings was totally rearranged. In addition, for various reasons, some soundtrack albums did not present the actual film recordings, but very similar recordings specially made for the albums.

In the current era of the CD, the larger space available on a disc has led to the rise of “pure” soundtrack albums in which all music from a film is presented, usually in strict chronological order. These CD albums are directed at the market of serious film score aficionados, though some albums like this appear on the regular market. It is an unfortunate fact that in the case of a great many classic films, the original recording media either no longer exist, or are in poor or incomplete condition. In order to present soundtrack albums for such films, new recordings are often made (and in some cases, the music scores do not exist, or exist only in piano or four-part sketches created by the composers for use by the orchestrators; in these cases, the orchestrations must be partly or completely reconstructed).

(2) The “Soundtrack Collection”. These albums consist of compilations of music from films, such as themes from classic Western films, or music by a particular composer. Such albums vary in quality from superb to execrable. They may present original soundtrack recordings or new recordings, and some consist of two or more CDs.

It should be noted that many film score CDs, especially of type (1), are not available through normal channels, such as Amazon or actual stores. They may be obtained from specialised on-line sellers, such as Screen Archives and Intrada in the U.S., Movie Grooves in the U.K., and Chris’ Soundtrack Corner in Germany, though these outlets do not carry any Winnetou CDs (which, however, are available from Amazon Germany, as described in the topic cited above).

In scoring the Winnetou film series, Martin Böttcher used leitmotifs almost exclusively, a brilliant decision. A leitmotif is a piece of music specifically assigned to a particular character, a place, or type of action or situation. Thus, in the Winnetou films, there arise the famous “Winnetou-Melodie”, “Shatterhand-Melodie”, “Surehand-Melodie”, and many more. A very important aspect of Böttcher’s approach to the Winnetou films was the use of the main leitmotifs throughout the series (except, of course, for the two films, “Old Shatterhand” and “Winnetou und sein Freund Old Firehand”, that he did not score). This helped make the films into an artistically coherent body of work, presenting a whole, unique world, as in the original Karl May stories, and it amplified the power of each film. Böttcher varied the orchestral arrangements of these themes, often significantly, to suit the particular scene he was scoring. In addition, he composed new leitmotifs as required (with seemingly infinite inspiration), as well as the source music (such as the orchestrion music in the saloons).

Of the albums listed in the “Music of Winnetou” topic, the Bear Family 8-CD set consists of “pure” soundtrack albums. The original recordings are presented in chronological order, and include virtually all music, including source music, from the films. Since this is a massive collection, covering many films, in order to fit all tracks on eight CDs, an occasional repetition was avoided. For example, all three of the films featuring Stewart Granger as Old Surehand had the “Old Surehand-Melodie” as the title music. Thus, a soundtrack album of “Der Ölprinz”, the second of the Surehand films, would normally present the “Old Surehand-Melodie” title music recording. But since the same recording of the title music is presented on the CD containing “Unter Geiern”, its repetition was not strictly necessary. Note that this structure follows from the 5-CD Karl-May-Kollektion (a limited edition no longer readily available, to my knowledge) produced under the aegis of the Karl-May-Archiv.

The “Winnetous Rückkehr” CD (a beautiful album that I highly recommend, despite the fact that it is now “out of print”—though it can be found through Amazon alternate sellers and eBay Germany) is another example of a “soundtrack album” consisting of the original film recordings.

The other listed albums are in the “collection” format, consisting of the famous leitmotifs in various recordings, faithful to the film recordings, and directed by Martin Böttcher. For many listeners, these types of albums, which present the popular melodies, are the preferred format. They are especially suited to casual listening, and make the most famous melodies available in a compact and convenient form. While serious fans of Winnetou-Music will desire the complete soundtrack albums as on the Bear Family set, even they will wish to have some of these splendid collection albums, not only for convenience, but also to hear slight variations in the arrangements or performances.

However, these collection albums do not contain some very beautiful music from the films, such as the pieces Kantor Hampel played on the piano and harmonium (reed organ). To hear these pieces, one must either view the film on DVD or VHS tape, or obtain either the Bear Family 8-CD set, or the out of print Karl-May-Kollektion (for the Kantor Hampel pieces, the pertinent disc of the latter collection is TCS 108-2 from Musik Mosaik, containing “Der Ölprinz” and “Winnetou III”).

On a side note: the character of Kantor Hampel in “Der Ölprinz” is portrayed entirely differently in the film than in the book (of the same title, and available in English as “The Oil Prince”, translated by Herbert Windolf). In the book, the character is presented as a pompous, headstrong eccentric who is responsible for causing dangerous situations to arise—to the extent that he had to be bound at times, to prevent him from wandering off. Hampel is a colourful character of the kind that appear in the “stories for youth”, such as Hobble-Frank, though hardly as likable as the latter. In the film, Hampel is presented as a kindly, very charismatic character who only occasionally gets into trouble due to absent-mindedness and inexperience of the frontier.


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PostPosted: Sun Jun 10, 2007 3:36 pm 
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Hello Philip - thank you for the in depth explanation! The "Herr Kantor emeritus Matthaes Aurelius Hampel aus Klotzsche bei Dresden" [KM: Der Oelprinz - Zuercher Ausgabe 1996, p. 51 - or in: The Oil Prince - translated by Herbert Windolf - Washington State University Press 2003, p. 32, as: "Mr. Cantor Emeritus Mattheus Aurelius Hampel from Klotzsche near Dresden"] is an amazing description by Karl May of a gentleman advanced in years who shows signs of Alzheimer's disease, and needs to be looked after and taken care of because of his irresponsible behaviour. Quite often we find in cases of advanced senile dementia or Alzheimer that previous knowledge in a specific field is preserved - as the Cantor Emeritus is still well versed in music! This is one of many similar examples of Karl May's sharp eye and shrewd observation of people he met and saw and then included into his books which makes his writings so enjoyable and close to life [in contrast to the plastic figures of contemporary heroes flooding our TV and movies screens or children cartoon programs].


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 11, 2007 10:46 am 
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Bill, it never occurred to me that the descriptions of Kantor Hampel’s personality traits, in “The Oil Prince”, might have been meant to imply a degree of dementia, or the particular form of dementia that is to-day known as Alzheimer’s disease. But I have been reading on this web-site your very interesting and highly detailed articles of medical analysis of Karl May and his characters. [To forum readers: these are available in both English and German here]:



We know that May had dreamed of being a physician, and was strongly interested in science and medicine, of which topics he had quite a bit of knowledge. And his descriptions of unusual physical features and behavioural traits in some of his characters are so precise as to be almost clinical. Your hypothesis, that May based these characters’ abnormal physical or mental qualities on actual cases he had observed with scientific attention, seems to me more than reasonable. I shall have to read “The Oil Prince” again (what a chore :wink: ) with a less judgmental view of Kantor Hampel, for I confess that as I read the book, I compared the literary version of Hampel to his cinema incarnation (of which I had acquaintance—and a very favourable opinion—long before I ever read the book), casting the former in a perhaps unfairly poor light. :(

Thanks for posting that most insightful observation!

--Philip


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 12, 2007 3:15 am 
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Hello Philip – it is surprising that in the one hundred years of research and writings on and about Karl May the question where all the various personalities in his novels come from has not been paid more attention to. It seems that almost all the people in Karl May’s world were based on characters who really existed. Some examples: Frau Rosalie Ebersbach from the ‘Oil Prince’ should have been the landlady from the inn ‘Zur Stadt Glauchau’ from May’s native town Hohenstein-Ernstthal. As a young boy during the famine May often begged her for potato peels to bring home for the family. The “Kantor emeritus” according to some [Commentary in: ICH, Karl-May-Verlag Bamberg 1968, p. 382] should have been known to Karl May when he lived in Klotzsche near Dresden. The year of Cochise’s death coincides with the death of Winnetou (1874) as stated by May in his letters to readers.

In the character of “Fred the Juggler” from ‘The Ghost of Llano Estacado’ (1888) Karl May portrayed a person with two different eye colours. This has been for the first time described in medical literature in 1951 by Dr. Waardenburg, and named the Waardenburg Syndrome.

The similarities between Klekih-petra, the white teacher of Winnetou, and Dr. Friedrich Hahnemann, the son of Dr.Samuel Hahnemann, founder of homeopathy, are striking. True to facts, Friedrich immigrated to the USA, and disappeared without a trace in the ‘Wild West.’

As Carroll Baker [or was it Jean Simmons?] says in a scene from The Big Country: “Shall I continue?”
Regards Bill.


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 12, 2007 10:42 am 
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........“Shall I continue”—about the red ants? It was Jean Simmons. “The Big Country” has long been a favourite Western of mine, and since you brought it up, I’ll add some comments below. But first, it is very interesting that you should bring up a parallel between Cochise and Winnetou. The former must have been a significant inspiration for the latter (though Cochise was fifty-nine years old when he passed away, and his death was due to natural causes). It could reasonably be said that the presentation and portrayal of Winnetou in Pierre Brice’s 1980 television mini-series, “Winnetou le Mescalero”/“Mein Freund Winnetou”, not based on Karl May’s work, was somewhat closer in spirit to the life of Cochise, whose brother and two nephews were unjustly hanged by Lieutenant Bascom of the U.S. Army, and who spent most of the rest of his life relentlessly fighting Americans. The 1950 film “Broken Arrow”, starring Jeff Chandler as Cochise, and James Stewart as Tom Jeffords, was one of the first American Westerns to portray Indians positively, and it has quite a bit of the Karl May sensibility, although with less romanticism.

Klekih-Petra is one of the most memorable characters I have encountered in reading Karl May. It is a shame that his part in the film “Winnetou I” was so brief. After seeing your message, I read a bit about Friedrich Hahnemann on the internet, but I could find no reference to him in the American West, though it does seem that he disappeared in America.

To return to William Wyler’s “The Big Country”, 1958,....since this thread began on the topic of the music of Winnetou, I would note that Jerome Moross’ spectacular score for “The Big Country” is one of the most famous scores ever composed for a Western, and it clearly influenced Elmer Bernstein, though the latter had an entirely different rhythmic approach to the scoring of Westerns. The fundamental melody of “The Big Country” was stylistically in keeping with the musical tradition that had evolved in Western scores (though its specific sensibility, and the overall orchestral treatment were revolutionary). Within the traditional Western film score style, which involved melodies that sought to convey the grandeur, wide expanses, and freedom of the Old West, combined with stylistic elements of Western folk songs, there also appeared in the 1950s a bittersweet variant, which conveyed at times a sadness for a passing era, and at other times a lament for the cycles of violence that were a part of the West. An example of the former “bittersweet” type would be George Bassman’s score for Sam Peckinpah’s elegiac “Ride the High Country”, 1962, starring Randolph Scott and Joel McCrea. Lionel Newman’s score for Delmer Daves’ “The Last Wagon”, 1956, starring Richard Widmark as Comanche Todd (a white man who lived as a Comanche), is of the latter type.

Martin Böttcher’s unique Winnetou melodies also conform to the general style of the Western film theme, but they remain unlike any other Western scores. They come close to the “bittersweet” type, but without demonstrating an overtly melancholy quality (except in very specific instances). The leitmotifs of the main characters, as well as others, such as the “Grand Canyon-Melodie”, have the quite remarkable characteristic of being simultaneously heroic, plaintive, and romantic. It is impossible to imagine any music more perfectly expressive of the sensibility of the Winnetou films and Karl May’s original Wild West stories. :D 8)

By all means, Bill, continue on your fascinating subject of the real-life origins of Karl May’s characters! But might I suggest that you create a new topic, perhaps in the forum “Karl May’s Literary Work”?

--Philip


Last edited by Philip Colston on Wed Jun 13, 2007 5:01 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Tue Jun 12, 2007 2:47 pm 
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Hello Philip - thanks for clarifying the issue from my favourite "The Big Country!" The music from there and from the Winnetou movies is heaven to the ears and remedy for the soul!

Yes - your suggestion is valid - perhaps Ms. Marlies Bugmann could transfer the relevant parts to the appropriate place in this Forum?

To go back to Klekih-petra and Dr. Friedrich Hahnemann: As far as I know no one before me has come up with this connection. Article I wrote about this was published [in German translation] in The Beobachter an der Elbe No. 3 - December 2004 pp. 18-19; and is a chapter in my book on Karl May. Friedrich Hahnemann left Germany and it is on record [I quoted the original sources] that sometime in 1832-1833, when the cholera was making frightful ravages in the entire Northwest of the US, especially at St. Louis, Dubuque, and Galena, he appeared there - a hunchback, of very dark complexion, and strong German accent. He cured several hundred of the people during the epidemic. Whether he died during the continuance of the cholera or whether he returned to his former seclusion is unknown. Since then Hahnemann's son Friedrich disappeared without leaving any trace.

The story of Klekih-petra from Winnetou could be located in time as taking place in autumn of 1860. At that time Friedrich Hahnemann would have been 74 years old. It is not inconceivable that Karl May had in mind Friedrich when composing the story. The similarities are too striking to be just coincidental.


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 12, 2007 3:03 pm 
Hi Bill ... the entire thread would have to be moved, and almost all of the posts still have relevance to the film scores. I suggest we leave this thread where it is, and you simply begin a new thread in the topic suggested by Philip. We can be fairly casual and not too regimented. Copying parts of your text into the new thread should be okay, and easily done. I for one am actually looking forward to an in depth write up about Karl May's various characters and the 'real life' counterparts, or models, as it were -- I know you specialise in that :wink:


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PostPosted: Fri Jun 15, 2007 3:16 pm 
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Hello Philip - today I received in the mail [from Amazon] the "Wilder Western - Heisse Orient" collection of music CDs. The accompanying large format book with movies pictures and posters is unique indeed! I did not know the English titles of KM movies screened in the US [as they have not appeared in Australian cinemas] - thanks for drawing my attention to this collection! Regards Bill.


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PostPosted: Sat Jun 16, 2007 9:39 pm 
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Bill, I am delighted to hear that you have purchased the Bear Family CD set, and most pleased that I was able to be of some help to a fellow Karl May fan. As you have found, this CD set is something very special indeed: a superb tribute to Karl May and the films based on his stories, and to the composers—most especially the great Martin Böttcher—who created the film scores. Those CDs will undoubtedly bring you pleasure for years to come. And the book demonstrates, in beautiful manner, how the graphic mode of film advertising became a true art form in the case of the Winnetou films.

--Philip


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