Musical Borrowing
An Annotated Bibliography

Individual record

[+] Hillman, Roger. “Music as Cultural Marker in German Film.” In Unsettling Scores: German Film, Music, and Ideology, 24-46. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2005.

Pre-existing music creates historical montage in a film, layering historical times to occur simultaneously in a single cinematic act. Reflecting their proximity to and distance from World War II, the films created by West German directors of the 1970s and early 1980s are particularly engaged in this act of historical montage. They are also distinct from Hollywood in their particular use of nineteenth-century art music, and New German filmmakers used the cultural weight of and audience deference to art music to resist traditional bourgeois values and highlight filmic and musical auteurs. Filmmakers juxtaposed the historically recent reception of Germanic music under the Nazis and the immediate reception of it by modern audiences, culturally marking the music, highlighting questions of national identity, and asserting cultural resilience in the face of both Germany’s history and the encroachment of Hollywood. Due to historical Germanic emphasis on music as a nonrepresentational art form, Germanic film music must transcend the theory of mimesis, commonly demonstrated by movies outside Germany. While reception theory is a promising tool for uncovering musical meaning, semiotics and the musical language of the borrowed work are also crucial elements in film music studies.

Works: Billy Wilder (director): soundtrack to A Foreign Affair (28); Rainer Werner Fassbinder (director): Deutschland im Herbst (35); Hans-Jürgen Syberberg (director): soundtrack to Hitler: A Film from Germany (37).

Sources: Miklós Rózsa: Violin Concerto, Op. 24 (28); Beethoven: Symphony No. 9 in D Minor, Op. 125 (36-37, 41, 44-45); Haydn: Deutschlandlied (36-37, 44-45); Wagner: Götterdämmerung (37).

Index Classifications: 1900s, Film

Contributed by: Kate Altizer

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