Omnia immunda immundis

2019-09-20 17.17.37

Das hier vorgestellte Forschungsprojekt wurde von einem projektinternen Konflikt überschattet, der Ende 2017 durch von einer Projektmitarbeiterin vorgetragene, den Projektleiter thematisierende persönliche Empfindungen und Wahrnehmungen sowohl privater als auch beruflicher Natur entstand.

Erst nach jahrelangen internen und externen Schlichtungs- und Mediationsverfahren konnte durch das rechtskräftige Urteil des Arbeits- und Sozialgerichts Wien von November 2022 aufgeklärt werden, dass

  • der Projektleiter “weder Zeit noch Kosten noch Mühen scheute, um diesen Konflikt aus der Welt zu schaffen” (17 Cga 21/21 p, S. 15)
  • “kein bestimmtes Verhalten des Projektleiters als das den Konflikt auslösende Verhalten geschildert werden konnte” (17 Cga 21/21 p, S. 21)
  • der Projektleiter kein als “Mobbing, Belästigung oder Diskriminierung” zu wertendes Verhalten gesetzt hat (17 Cga 21/21 p, S. 20, 23).

The Luce-Ufa Cinematic Axis

At the end of the 1920s, the German film giant Universum Film A.-G. (Ufa) established an industrial alliance with the Italian Istituto Nazionale Luce: signed in 1928, the agreement provided for the exchange of footages for the respective newsreels, within the framework of a consolidation of political-propaganda action in both the countries. The ‘pact of steel’ between Luce and Ufa was reaffirmed in 1933. In that year, Third Reich propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels went to Rome, where he met Luigi Freddi, then responsible for the propaganda of the Fascist regime, and explained to him the functioning of the Reichsfilmkammer. Goebbels’ criteria for the political reorganization of German cinematography were taken as a model by the Fascist intellectuals, so much so to be enthusiastically commented in the regime’s cultural journals.

The first result of the Luce-Ufa collaboration was the documentary Lo stormo atlantico (1931), dedicated to the transoceanic flight by a team of seaplanes headed by Italo Balbo. Shot by camera operator Mario Craveri, the film was sent to Germany to be synchronized with the Tobis-Klangfilm system. The soundtrack, upon which we well dwell for the purpose of this paper, was therefore edited independently in the Ufa studios.

The pact of steel between Fascist and Nazi cinematic industries consolidated at the outbreak of the World War II. There were two main areas of collaboration: (1) the co-production of documentary films on the progress of the war, between 1940 and 1941, and (2) the establishment of a newsreel, La Settimana Europea, the Italian translation of the Deutsche Wochenschau, during the Republic of Salò.

The Other ‘Pact of Steel’: The Luce-Ufa Cinematic Axis
Free paper at the International Conference “Music and Conflict: Politics and Escapism of Wartime Culture”.
Institute of Austrian and German Music Research
University of Surrey, 19-20 May 2023

Dietro un velo di organza


Sin dall’era del muto la critica cinematografica pose a tema il connubio fra musica e cinema. Compositori, musicologi, filosofi, teorici del cinema contribuirono a una vivace discussione intorno alle caratteristiche e alla funzione della componente musicale nelle proiezioni cinematografiche, con un ampio spettro di argomentazioni e punti di vista. In articoli, saggi, recensioni si sollevarono innumerevoli questioni di natura estetica, teoretica e compositiva: che differenza c’è fra musica cinematografica e musica d’arte? Una musica per film deve essere necessariamente una composizione originale o può includere musiche preesistenti a mo’ di compilazione? Come deve essere fatto da un punto di vista morfologico un brano di musica per film? Quali problemi possono derivare dall’uso di musiche che siano già note agli ascoltatori? Non mancarono riflessioni sulle relazioni estetiche fra l’arte musicale e il medium cinematografico in quanto tale, sulla loro convergenza o separazione, e persino sulle loro “affinità elettive”.

Il libro si pone l’obiettivo di indagare il problema estetico della musica per film nell’era del muto sulla scorta delle fonti giornalistiche coeve. Gli scritti giornalistici possiedono un enorme potenziale conoscitivo come fonti estetiche e storiche, a un tempo. Il giornalismo cinematografico si rivela un medium teorico-estetico per la pratica della musica per film nell’era del muto: il luogo in cui convergono le prime riflessioni teoriche sulla composizione cinematografica, si discutono urgenti questioni drammaturgiche e un’esperienza inerentemente estetica della musica riceve una raffinata elaborazione concettuale.

Francesco Finocchiaro, Dietro un velo di organza. Il pensiero sulla musica cinematografica nell’era del muto, Torino, Accademia University Press, 2020 (Biblioteca di Athena Musica, 2)

Aporias of Film Restoration


The notion of “film restoration” raises considerable problems for research into silent film music. Handwritten scores with the orchestration intended by their authors are rare; in cases where piano scores have been preserved, these were often produced in a different context and for a completely different purpose. In contrast, a large repertoire of mood music pieces has come down to us from the silent film era, which according to their nature, however, could either precede a “musical illustration” or descend from it a posteriori.

Musical documents of such varied nature, which could represent completely different moments in the compositional process, raise notable problems of interpretation when they are assumed as the starting point for a “film-music restoration”. In contrast to an alleged authenticity, emphatically proclaimed for mostly commercial reasons, it will be noted that even the most historically accurate procedures of film-music reconstruction often require arbitrary interventions in the musical documents, which imply different assumptions regarding the ontological status of the score and the film, as well as their respective authorships.

It is surprising to find a similar level of arbitrariness even in the most celebrated exemplar of a film-music restoration of the last years: Frank Strobel’s reconstruction of Huppertz’ score for the film Metropolis. Despite all declared claims for philological completeness and historical truthfulness, the reconstruction of this silent film score proves rather to be a process of translation and adaptation. The final result of such a procedure is not only historically new and indirectly derivable from the state of the sources, but also completely rooted in the aesthetic expectations of the present era.

Francesco Finocchiaro, Aporias of Film Restoration: The Musical Documents of the Silent Era between Film Philology and Market Strategies, «Acta Musicologica», XCII/2, 2020, pp. 180-199.

Operatic Works in Silent Cinema

Fig. 5

Between the 1910s and 20s, countless film adaptations of operas originated as a consequence of the medial competition between cinema and the bourgeois cultural institution par excellence: opera. Film adaptations aspired to lend artistic and cultural dignity to the new medium of cinema and, at the same time, actualized operatic subjects, adapting them to the cinema’s sense of naturalism and immediacy.

The processes of adaptation carried out by filmmakers could take on a variety of characteristics, as a result not only of the varying practical needs of a particular adaptation, but also of different aesthetic paradigms of cinema, that is, the different ways of conceiving its semiotic modes of discourse and the hierarchical configuration of the artistic languages embedded in it.

This article compares the adaptational strategies in four films––Cecil DeMille’s Carmen (1915), Albert Capellani’s La vie de Bohème (1916), Jacques Feyder’s Carmen (1926), and Richard Strauss & Robert Wiene’s Rosenkavalier (1926)––that represent just as many different modes of engagement with their operatic originals. These instances are interpreted as different solutions to the very same aesthetic problem: i.e., how to translate operatic dramaturgy into a cinematic means of expression.

Francesco Finocchiaro, Operatic Works in Silent Cinema: Toward a Translational Theory of Film Adaptations, «Music and the Moving Image», XIII/3, 2020, pp. 49-71

Montepulciano 2020

At the 45th Cantiere Internazionale d’Arte di Montepulciano, Prof. Francesco Finocchiaro introduced a silent soirée, with live-music accompaniment.

Films by Georges Méliès, Segundo de Chomón, Gaston Velle, and others were accompanied by Rovigo Conservatory’s teachers and students, relying on source materials derived from the FMJ Project.


Le voyage dans la lune

in collaboration with Cineteca di Bologna and Rovigo Conservatory

introduced by Francesco Finocchiaro

Cantiere Internazionale d’Arte di Montepulciano

July 25th, 2020

Poli-femo, 2019/17-18


Cos’è la musica per film? Qual è il suo statuto estetico? È possibile delinearne i confini e qualificarla come uno specifico genere musicale? Quali sono le sue funzioni drammaturgiche e quali le tipologie formali?

Domande di questo genere hanno accompagnato il cinema sin dai suoi albori, in modo particolare dalla metà degli anni Dieci del Novecento, allorché il nuovo medium cinematografico elaborò un linguaggio espressivo complesso, con leggi e convenzioni estetiche proprie. In quel contesto, l’esigenza di affrancare l’accompagnamento musicale dalle condizioni di casualità e precarietà dei primordi si fece sentire con sempre maggiore insistenza: il cosiddetto “film d’arte”, con i suoi adattamenti di capolavori della letteratura e del teatro e le ricostruzioni di importanti eventi storici, richiedeva una musica che fosse all’altezza del proprio ruolo.

Francesco Finocchiaro, Hans Erdmann e il dibattito sulla musica per il cinema muto nel giornalismo cinematografico di lingua tedesca“Poli-femo”, 2019, nn. 17-18, Special Issue Ton sur ton, Lo stile della saggistica critica sulle arti I, pp. 111–128

Der Kinematograph Anthology 1910



Was sonst in keinem musikalischen Berufe und von keinem Musiker irgend eines Instrumentes beansprucht wird, ist für den Kinopianisten gleichsam conditio sine qua non: Er soll frei phantasieren können, also im besten Wortsinne Künstler sein, oder doch intensiv künstlerisch empfinden. Nun, die Fähigkeit zu freier Phantasie ist nicht allzu selten; in der bei Musikern, noch mehr aber bei Dilettanten, üblichen Art ist sie nichts weiter als eine in Töne umgesetzte Gefülhs- oder Persönlichkeitsstimmung ohne jede Schulung. Sie muss sich keinen festen Formen unterordnen und hat nicht auf Kommando, also innerhalb einer bestimmten Zeit und Oertlichkeit stattzufinden. Ja noch weniger ist sie; denn sie versagt in dem Momente, als sie von aussen her gewünscht wird. Auch wo ein greifbares oder sichtbares Sujet nicht vorhanden ist, kann eine künstlerisch veranlagte Persönlichkeit mit wenig Mitteln Wirkungen hervorbringen, die künstlerischer Natur sind. Anders aber gestaltet sich die Sache, wenn, wie bei den Lichtbildern, sich die Phantasie an ein vorhandenes Sujet, also die Bildidee, binden muss und – was das allerschwierigste ist, spontan zu entstehen hat.

Leopold Schmidl, Lichtbild und Begleitmusik, «Der Kinematograph», IV n. 183, 29 June 1910.

Der Kinematograph Anthology 1909


So ist die Tonbildbühne die prädestinierteste Volksoper; bei ihr sind alle Faktoren vereint, da bei uns wohl fast in keinem Stadtteil ein Kinotheater fehlt. Aber nicht nur die glückliche Verteilung der Kinobühnen ist gegeben, sondern – was der springendste Punkt ist – das für solche Opernabende notwendige Material ist vorhanden, wenigstens teilweise, nämlich soweit die Solisten- und Orchester-Plattenaufnahmen in Frage kommen. Und welche Solisten findet man in den Katalogen! Solisten, die eine Volksoper sich niemals wird verschreiben lassen können. Da finden wir einen Caruso, Slezak, Tamagno; wir begegnen einer Tetrazzini, Hempel, Farrar, Sembrich; wir können einen Plançon, d’Andrade, Schaljapin in unserem Kinotheater singen lassen. Alle diese Künstler sind nicht nur in ihren Arien grammophonisch verewigt, sondern in ganzen Szenen. Weiter besitzen wir die herrlichsten Chöre der verschiedensten ersten Opernhäuser der Welt; wir besitzen ferner die Aufnahmen erster Orchester, die bekanntesten Werke der Operliteratur wiedergebend. Meine Angaben berechtigen zur Behauptung, dass die Kinobühne die einzige ist, die es wagen kann, Opernvorstellungen zu liefern, wie sie auf der ganzen Welt nicht zu hören sind, weil Engagements der Künstler, die ihr grammophonisch zur Verfügung stehen, selbst bei den erhöhtesten Eintrittspreisen garnicht zu zahlen sind. –

Max Olitzki, Die Musik im Kinotheater, «Der Kinematograph», III No. 137, 11 August 1909.