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Luther - a Reformation (new cut, 2017)
(Luther, ein Film der deutschen Reformation)

The nailing of the 95 theses onto the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg in 1517 marks the 500th Anniversary Martin Luther’s religious revolution. The presentation of the film LUTHER (Hans Kyser, 1927) in concert comes within the context of the Reformation Year and the recent restoration of this film conducted by the Bundesarchiv/Filmarchiv - Evangelische Bund in 2017. We are proud to present the film LUTHER in two versions:

LUTHER – A REFORMATION (1927/2017): a 70 minutes contemporary film concert featuring a new score by Sven Helbig. Based on the 1927 film, this presentation of the film was created in cooperation with the Dresdner Musikfestspiele and premiered in June 2017 by the MDR Sinfonieorchester and Chorus under the baton of Kristjan Järvi. Orchestral, choral and electronic music newly commissioned to Sven Helbig meet the visual talent of renowned media artist Lillevan. The restored print of the film is the source for a 70 minutes journey through the lights and shadows of Luther specially edited by the FilmPhilharmonie’s in-house visual curator Fernando Carmena in collaboration with Sven Helbig and Lillevan. In Carmena’s words: “the complexity of Luther’s dimension was an invitation to place our vision in a cinematic threshold where the audience could look inside and outside the original film. In doing so, we tried not to conceal our cuts, but to reflect and raise some questions and issues applicable to our times - without departing from the original footage and its volcanic potential. Some questions worked as a compass during the whole process: how do spirituality, economics and legitimating nationalism reinforce themselves? How far do we accept and incorporate revolutions, and to which extent?”   

About the music for LUTHER: for Sven Helbig, breaking the barriers between orchestral, electronic, pop, experimental and concert hall music has been a consistent motto throughout his career. His work as a composer, performer and arranger spans from Rammstein to conductor Kristjan Järvi, from Pet Shop Boys to the Fauré Quartet. After his albums Pocket Symphonies (2013; Deutsche Grammophon) and I eat the rain and eat the sun (2016; Neu-Meister) he has written for LUTHER a musical crucible for chorus, orchestra and electronics.  

In close connection with the newly restored and edited version of the film, his music undergoes three metamorphoses: first, it embodies Luther’s deepest emotions and his restless spiritual battle; next, Helbig takes the music out of Luther’s inner world and cultivates a much more external and straightforward style, precisely when Luther turns into a public figure, and when his writings spread thanks to the power of the printing press. The last section, entitled “Revolutions”, has a much more visceral and electronic nature. It is, in the composer’ own words, a true “physical experience”.  


Sven Helbig

  large orchestra (from 46 Musicians)