October 27
Karo Film Oktyabr Cinema Theater


Silent film by Hans Karl Breslauer (1924)
Music by Olga Neuwirth (2017)

Russian Premiere

The film "Die Stadt ohne Juden" which came out in 1922 was produced based on the anti-utopian novel of the same name by Hugo Bettauer. The book was written in the conditions of tide of antisemitism gaining power at that time resounding to it with a bitter satire: the writer narrates about the banishment of the Jews from Vienna.

The book was very popular in its time and became the most well-known work by Hugo Bettauer. In 1923 Hans Karl Breslauer began his work on creating the film. The producer altered a number of details, — in particular, he created the real Vienna into an imaginary Utopia. The greater amount of modifications and deviations from the original story were required in order to avoid problems with the censorship. During the exhibition of the film the Nazis were staging riots across the country, and in 1925 Hugo Bettauer was shot by a member of the National Socialist Workers’ Party.
For many years the film “Die Stadt ohne Juden” was considered to be lost. In 2015 it was found by chance at a flea market in Paris and passed on to the Austrian National Cinema Archive, where it was restored. Presently “Die Stadt ohne Juden” is acknowledged to be one of the most important Austrian films of the interwar period and the first cinematographic document directed against antisemitism.

The music of Olga Neuwirth was composed especially for the premiere of the restored version of the film which took place on November 7, 2018 at the Vienna Konzerthaus.

That’s the game I like to play with: sometimes I call it “an ironic distance” from the content. But on the other hand I do want to be emotionally in the content. I play with clichés and stereotypes – this is something that I do in Die Stadt, in relation to the different types of characters, all the while avoiding turning them into caricatures. For example, I play around with motifs based on Austrian yodellers, sometimes distorting them on the samples, sometimes making them really short for the live musicians themselves to perform. ‘My music has to relate to my own sound world. And that sound world is something between a “musical rage” – which relates to how far the human being can go in terms of hatred – and a “musical distance”, featuring distorted musical stereotypes.’ It would seem to be a dialogue between this ‘musical rage’ and satire that grows out of this composer’s use of musical cliché.

Olga Neuwirth
Based on the program note for the show at Milton Court Concert Hall, Nov 15, 2018

Studio for New Music Ensemble
Igor Dronov, conductor

Hosted by:
Moscow Tchaikovsky Conservatory
National Fund of Copyright Holders’ Support