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»The Orchestra Rehearsal« – by and with Karl Valentin (Germany, 1933) and »The Baton«

Documentation by Michael Wende (Germany, 2011)


Wed, 15 May 2013 6 p.m.



Two studies on the topic of the conductor. In his short film, Karl Valentin plays in close succession the trumpeter, the violinist and the percussionist of a small orchestra. He provokes and annoys by constantly interrupting the conductor (LiesI Karlstadt) and drawing him into quibbling, seemingly meaningless discussions – which of course, as always with Karl Valentin, have a deeper significance and can also be understood as Dadaistic plays on words. “There’s method to Valentin’s madness! He uses his humour as a kind of ‘deconstruction’ to examine language, and he exposes the elementary situations of communication, perception and cognition. His artful plays on words are just as relevant today as they were then.” (Sabine Damm)

In his film, Michael Wende attempts to get to the bottom of the secret that surrounds the men (and, more rarely, the women) wielding a conductor’s baton. He asks fundamentally and simply: what does a conductor actually do? Opinions and explanations are provided by both the participants and the jurors of the Gustav Mahler Conducting Competition of the Bamberg Symphony Orchestra. A funny animated figure (spoken by Herbert Feuerstein) serves as the host and partner for reflections, helps answer the questions about what differentiates a very good conductor from a good one, what a conductor has to be able to do – and, not least, why one actually needs a baton. At the end some things become clear, while others remain mysterious. The film, the diploma thesis of film student Michael Wende, is consistently original, entertaining and humorous.

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