Classical Music and Cold War

On the Occasion of the 20th Anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall

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This documentary explores the political role of classical music in Germany from the end of World War II to the fall of the Berlin wall.

"In my opinion, comrades, we really should end the monotony of this Yeah, Yeah, Yeah or whatever they call it" (SED General Secretary Walter Ulbricht about pop music).

As classical music was considered politically harmless in the former GDR, its education was highly encouraged. The regime quickly discovered its great potential for generating valuable cultural exchange – as well as much needed hard currency.

Classical music "made in the GDR" became an export hit for the regime, thanks to, for example, the Staatskapelle Dresden, the Gewandhausorchester Leipzig and renowned artists like Kurt Masur, Peter Schreier, Franz Konwitschny, Kurt Sanderling and Theo Adam.

Through case studies of individuals who lived under the system, 'Symphony & Socialism' explores the fates of both the privileged and the non-privileged, and delivers insight into the influence of the political system on artistic life. The film includes interviews with contemporary witnesses both from GDR and the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG)

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