Falconetti in La passion de Jeanne d’Arc with Austrian accordionist Maria Düchler
The Bioscope is unremittingly keen to see new forms of musical accompaniment for silent films, so news of the Akkordeon Festival in Vienna is most welcome. The annual festival is pretty much what you would expect it to be – a festival of accordion music, and quite possibly something of a challenge to the senses were you to attend it in its entirety from 15 February to 23 March 2010. But the festival has assorted strands, and this year one of these is a series of matinees featuring the screening of silent films accompanied by accordionists. Clearly the choice of films has been made to demonstrate the range of the instrument and challenge preconceptions.
On 21 February Buster Keaton in Sherlock Jr. (1924) and Fatty Arbuckle and Keaton in Back Stage (1919) will be accompanied by Sascha Shevchenko on the accordion and Maciej Gloebiowski on clarinet.
On 28 February D.W. Griffith’s Broken Blossoms (1919) will be accompanied by accordionist Christian Bakanic.
On 7 March Carl Th. Dreyer’s La passion de Jeanne d’Arc is accompanied by accordionist Maria Düchler.
On 14 March there is Conrad Veidt in Robert Weine’s Orlacs Hände (1924), accompanied by Stefan Sterzinger on accordion and Franz Schaden bass.
On 21 March there’s Harold Lloyd in Safety Last (1923), with Lothar Lässer accompanying on the accordion.
More information (in German only), including ticket details, can be found on the Akkordeon Festival website. All the silent film screenings take place at the Filmcasino, Margaretenstrasse 78, A-1050, Vienna, Austria.
I’ve never played the accordion, but I’d imagine it would require powerful arms and fingers to accompany an entire feature.
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It sounds to me like a huge challenge, but I take the festival to be somewhere where accordionists like to stretch themselves (visual pun fully intended). I’m most intrigued by how the austere Passion of Joan of Arc is going to come across accompanied by an instrument I’d usually associate with folk dancing.
As a folk music enthusiast I share your bemusement, but I’m sure it will be wonderful; but I would have thought a film like Maldone (Canal bargee in rural France, main character plays an accordion) would have been more…..obvious, perhaps, but more appropriate??
I suspect that it could be quite interesting. Not enough to send me to Vienna, but enough to make we want to see a silent accompanied by an accordion one day. I was a folk music enthusiast once, then I heard one Planxty album too many, and living in a town (Rochester) where people practice morris dancing in the streets at the slightest opportunity, I have learned to fear what accordions can bring. But listen to what someone like Guy Klucevsek can do, and you have to think differently.
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