Thursday, January 15, 2009
The Comedian Harmonists
In 1927, an out-of-work actor in Berlin named Harry Frommermann created a vocal harmony group called the Comedian Harmonists that produced some of the strangest and most idiosyncratically alluring music ever recorded. These six men (five vocalists and one pianist) took Europe by storm and were the most popular pre-war European act, releasing scores of recordings and at least a dozen films during their short but bright comet of a career.
The rise of Hitler and the Nazis spelled the end of the group, as half of them were Jewish. They were forced to flee to other countries, soon disbanding.
Although their music sounds bizarre today to some modern ears to the point of eliciting laughter, the Comedian Harmonists weren't necessarily "comedy" as we understand the term in America today. German humor is, for linguistic reasons, constructed differently to English-language humor, although the fact they chose an English-language indicates a predisposition towards more "modern" and British influences, as opposed to if they'd used the actual German word "Komödie".
Listen: Comedian Harmonists - Perpetuum Mobile
Listen: Comedian Harmonists - Schnappi
Listen: Comedian Harmonists - Mein Kleiner Gruner Kaktus