Orgel in der Philharmonie (photo: Hermann Willers)


Silent film concert to celebrate Luther year

A Catholic organist improvising the music for a film about Luther: to open the Philharmoniker’s organ series and celebrate the Reformation jubilee, Thierry Escaich accompanies the silent film Luther. With a star-studded cast, this historical drama from 1928 is a real cinematic rarity which has been painstakingly restored to mark the Luther jubilee. In monumental images, the film describes the life of the great reformer.

Thierry Escaich organ

Organ & Silent Film

Luther – Ein Film der deutschen Reformation

A Period Film by Hans Kyser from 1927

Thierry Escaich organ

Dates and Tickets

Sun, 08 Oct 2017, 20:00

Philharmonie | Introduction: 19:00


The Berliner Philharmoniker’s organ concert series traditionally opens with an evening event – this season for the second time with a silent film concert. A true cinematic rarity is on the programme just in time for the 500th anniversary of the Reformation: Hans Kyser’s legendary historical drama Luther. After the premiere in 1928, the star-studded film was soon regarded as a film “promoting Evangelism”, which displeased Catholic circles in particular. It was the cause of serious sectarian controversy and political protests, which led to the film biography being censored some 40 times. The unabridged original version found in the depths of the German Federal Archive has now been extensively restored, and can be seen today in the main auditorium of the Philharmonie.

Hans Kyser’s Luther is epic cinema, and presents the life of the rebel and reformer Martin Luther in monumental images: Luther joining the monastery, his decisive journey to Rome, nailing his theses in Wittenberg and finally, his excommunication. While Luther translates the Bible into German at the Wartburg, the Peasants’ Revolt breaks out. At this point, the film ends in a revolutionary inferno, with Martin Luther in a shining suit of armour confronting the religious zealots, thus preventing the sacking of the churches and iconoclasm. At the Philharmonie organ is Thierry Escaich, a multi-talented musician: the 52-year-old Frenchman is a renowned composer whose works are performed all over the world. He is a professor at the Paris Conservatoire and is considered one of the best concert organists of our time. When Thierry Escaich finds time between his many commitments, he still plays the organ on Sundays in the Paris church of St-Etienne-du-Mont. A Catholic organist improvising the music for a film about Luther – something which promises to be most intriguing.

Orgel in der Philharmonie (photo: Hermann Willers)

Thierry Escaich (photo: Guy Vivien)