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  • Jeanne d'Arc og lysets stemme
    af Thomas - 30.11.2005

    Richard Einhorn med Jeanne d'Arc i baggrunden.
    Kilde: The Hampshire Gazette.

    Diskussionerne om hvor vidt Dreyers stumfilmklassiker "Jeanne d'Arcs lidelse og død" (1928) klarer sig bedst med eller uden musik har stået på i årevis. Dette har dog ikke afholdt den amerikanske komponist Richard Einhorn fra at give sit bud på en tonesat tolkning af værket. Hans oratorium "Voices of Light" har været opført over det meste af verden, og han fortæller i dette interview med forfatteren Thomas Vilhelm om baggrunden for musikken.

    Thomas Vilhelm (TV): Did you have any doubts about adding your work to the version issued by Criterion Collection?

    Richard Einhorn (RE): None at all. I believe that the film is a great masterpiece of cinema.

    As a composer whose concerns are in many ways similar to Dreyer's, I felt an immediate rapport with "The Passion of Joan of Arc" and wanted to do a work that could stand entirely alone, as a separate work, but also might be heard during screenings of the film. It has been performed live with the film about 125 times to date all over the world (but not yet in Denmark) in some of the world's greatest venues, including Lincoln Center (New York), the Kennedy Center (Washington, DC), Sydney Opera House (Australia), and the Esplanade (Singapore). Whatever Dreyer might or might not think of my music, I am certain he would have appreciated the love and attention I took to do my own research on Joan of Arc as well as the care we've taken to ensure high quality screenings. Also from a technical standpoint, I knew Criterion would do a superb job and they exceeded my wildest expectations.

    TV: I can see from the reviews on your homepage www.richardeinhorn.com, that the audiences were in awe of the performances of "Voices of Light" together with the movie. How did you experience these evenings yourself?

    RE: One of the great, unexpected pleasures of the "Voices of Light" project is that I've had the privilege of hearing numerous wonderful performances of the work from South Africa to San Francisco to the Netherlands. Each time, I've heard and seen something different, as the synchronization with the image is never exact. This has enhanced the experience of the film for me, as the music, inadvertently, highlights subtle details of the film - the acting, the camerawork, the editing, the set, and so on. It's also been quite a thrill to meet so many people who have come away with much the same experience I had when I first saw the film more than 15 years ago: sheer awe at Dreyer's genius and Falconetti's performance. One purpose I had in doing this project was to bring Dreyer's masterpiece to a movie-loving public that, at least in America, had never seen the original version of the film or, if they had, only in museum settings. I don't mean to boast, but I believe I was quite successful in that goal. It is very likely that more people have seen the film live as a result of Voices of Light performances than in the prior 67 years combined. These days, in the US, as you probably know, issues of religion and state are once again at the forefront of our politics. Dreyer's art is deeply concerned with these issues. He challenges us not to accept simplistic slogans but to examine both the secular and spiritual worlds in unique ways. That is what attracted me to "The Passion of Joan of Arc" and what still holds my interest in the film after far more screenings than I could possibly count.

    TV: Who played on the Criterion film version. Is it the same musicians who is playing on the road?

    RE: The Criterion version is performed by the same people who did the cd: Anonymous 4, The Netherlands Radio Orchestra, The Netherlands Radio Chorus, various vocal and gamba soloists, all conducted by Steven Mercurio. Anonymous 4 joined a touring ensemble for two short US tours and have performed it numerous times since.

    TV: It has been said that Dreyer was quite reluctant towards other composers work, like for instance two French men back at the time of the release of the film. Also the famous Danish composer Jacob Gade had a go on the masterpiece.

    RE: The two composers were Leo Pouget and Victor Alix. According to the French Magazine L'Avant Scene Cinema (January/February 1988), the Gade score was the earliest, premiering with the film on 21 April, 1928 in Copenhagen, with the Pouget/Alix score being performed for the first time on 25 October, 1928 in Paris. Unfortunately, I don't read French, but I believe the magazine says that the Gade score was a compilation of pre-existing classical music.

    TV: He strongly disliked the Chamber Music put on by the French film historian Lo Duca in 1951, not because of the music in itself, but because it didn´t fit into the movie from his opinion.

    RE: Lo Duca rearranged shots from the Dreyer cuts and added intertitles that Dreyer strongly disliked. He also added pre-existing music by Bach, Vivaldi Albioni and other composers, including, I believe, vocal music. Dreyer was appalled and wrote that it would be better to have no music at all than the music Lo Duca chose.

    TV: Back to your own project. Did you write scores for other movies (silent), and do you have plans about doing such things in the future?

    RE: I have not tried to write music for any other silent films. I was not looking to score a silent film but rather was trying to find a way to do a large music/theater piece on spirituality and religion. I came across the Passion by accident and realized it would be perfect for what I was intending to do. The only other silents that attract me musically are Metropolis and Nosferatu (although I enjoy many other silent films, I just don't feel the itch to write music for them). However, I am less interested in scoring these two films in a normal manner than in using them as part of a larger event - for example, Nosferatu would be a perfect element in a large music/theater work about AIDS. However, both films have difficult copyright issues, I understand. Having had to deal with similar issues with Passion of Joan, I'd be pretty reluctant to get involved with those films unless the copyright problems were resolved in advance. So it's pretty unlikely I'll be doing music for silents, but I am always keeping my eyes open!

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