Open-Air Cinema on Saturday, 10 August 2019, 8.30 pm at Schloss Wartholz
WALTER ARLEN'S FIRST CENTURY (Documentary, AT 2018, 91 min, Stephanus Domanig)
Exile music is not written by those who life left unchallenged. Walter Arlen is now almost 100 years old - and the entire century comes to life again in his stories and in his music. From the “blue light of the last streetcar” of his youth in Vienna to the golden sunsets in Los Angeles. WALTER ARLEN’S FIRST CENTURY paints an affectionate and multifaceted picture of a musician exiled in 1938, who only got to see his works performed late in life.
Walter Arlen is now almost 100 years old and remembers everything. The images, the smells, the sounds; Vienna and Los Angeles―a whole century is still present and comes to life again in his stories and in his music. Growing up in the Viennese district of Ottakring, as the grandson of the Jewish department store owner Leopold Dichter, Arlen’s musicality was noticed early on. But Austria’s “Anschluss” to the Third Reich destroyed all dreams of music―now came a struggle to stay alive. The family was torn apart, but an affidavit from the US saved the nineteen-year-old. Consumed by homesickness, longing and despair, Walter Arlen threw himself into his music. The notes held together what was on the verge of breaking.
He found a new home, the love of his life, and a career as a music critic for the Los Angeles Times. He kept his own music a secret, thinking a career as a music critic must inevitably compromise his integrity as a composer. But in private, he wrote stories through music that should not be forgotten: Of leaving and arriving, of searching and finding. Of the pain life inflicts upon us―and of the incredible wonders it also presents. Exile music is not written by those who life left unchallenged.
That Walter Arlen’s musical memories did eventually find a stage and an audience, is in large part thanks to his partner, Howard Myers, and the exil.arte Center at the mdw – University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna. That he finally got to hear his works―at the age of 97! ―at Vienna’s Konzerthaus is just one of Walter Arlen’s many victories. And certainly not his least.
The film accompanies Walter Arlen for a part of his journey. With ease it paints the portrait of a remarkable man, a man who went through years of darkness but never lost sight of the “blue light of the last streetcar”.
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