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Walter Ruttmann

«Ruttmann was born in Frankfurt am Main on December 28, 1897. He studied architecture in Zurich and then painting in Munich. [...] In ‹Berlin. Die Sinfonie einer Großstadt› he applied the principles of his abstract studies and film montage to realistic photographs from the city of Berlin. [...] After ‹Berlin› he turned to sound experiments and was eventually able to make ‹Melodie der Welt›, a Tobis film commissioned by Hapag-Lloyd and the first fulllength German sound film. [...] Ruttmann did not emigrate. He collaborated on a film for a ‹Reichsparteitag› but withdrew from the team for unknown reasons. Beginning in 1934 he was employed as a director by UFA and made cultural, industrial, commercial, and propaganda films. On July 15, 1941, he died in Berlin after an operation.» (source: Goethe-Institut (ed.), The German Avant-Garde Film of the 1920’s, exhib. cat., München, 1989, p. 78.)

Weekend (1930) 11'10"

Weekend is a pioneering work from the early days of radio, commissioned in 1928 by Berlin Radio Hour. In a collage of words, music fragments and sounds, the film-maker and media artist Walter Ruttmann presented on 13 June 1930 a radically innovative radio piece: an acoustic picture of a Berlin weekend urban landscape.

Before making Weekend, Ruttmann had produced the experimental documentary Berlin-Symphony of a Great City (1927) as well as a number of short, experimental abstract animations. After his experience with his films, Ruttmann deliberately sought possibilities for producing an audio-film for radio. "Everything audible in the world becomes material," he wrote in a manifesto in 1929, prefiguring Schaeffer, Varese, Cage and the other giants of the musical avant-garde.

Tones and sounds should exist in their own right. For Weekend they were recorded as arbitrary and intentional elements on the soundtrack of an optical sound film using the so-called Tri-Ergon process. For the first time an artistic radio production was created whose material could be assembled and designed according to rhythmic, musical principles.

The original of Weekend was long considered lost. A copy was only rediscovered in New York in 1978.

-- HiazHhzz - 28 Oct 2004
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