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Composer Karl Ludwig Gustav Freiherr von Feilitzsch (1901 – 1981)

Karl (Carl until ca, 1955) Ludwig Gustav Freiherr von Feilitzsch (2.4.1901 – 7.8.1981) enjoyed early success as a composer. His first two operas were performed already in 1928 and 1929. He lost his employment at the Munich “AkademiefürTonkunst” in 1935 due to his “political unreliability”. In 1938, he was imprisoned for eight days after having refused to perform the so-called “Hitlergruß”. His 26-year old future wife was imprisoned by the Gestapo in November 1939. In order to save her, he joined the NSDAP on 2.2.1940. Feilitzsch wrote his, mostly political, main compositions during the last years of the war and the following years and played an active role amongst the independent artists who aimed to create a new culture for Germany. He worked with many directors for film and stage. Bert Brecht engaged him in 1950, after the death of Kurt Weill, for the legendary production of the “Dreigroschenoper” with Therese Ghiese in the “Kammerspiele”, Munich. Already in in 1962, he used electronic music with the “Trautonium” for Gondrell’s legendary comic film “Der MünchnerimHimmel” after Ludwig Thoma.

From 1963 onwards, the composer began to work actively for the preservation of the environment and became as such one of the very first ecological activist in Germany. In consequence, his musical career ended abruptly and he lost all public or private commissions until he died in 1981.


2. April 1901Born in Munich
1918 - 1921Reads law at the Ludwig Maximilian Universität in Munich and, at the same time, Musical Theory under Adam and August Reuss at the „Staatliche Akademie der Tonkunst, Hochschule für Musik in München (now Hochschule für Musik und Theater München)
1925‘Referendar’ Exam at the LMU Munich; decision to pursue his life as a composer and musician.
1927 - 1929Student for composition with the Head of Akademie der Tonkunst, Hermann Wolfgang Frhr.v.Waltershausen (+1954).
1928Debut Performance of his first opera „Die Rote Fackel“ at the Stadt Theater Nürnberg. Feilitzsch wrote the libretto in reminiscence of Karl Kraus.
1929Debut Performances of his fourth opera „Konrad und Marie“ at the Stadt Theater Plauen and Ulm. Musical Director in Ulm was the ‚Erste Kapellmeister‘ Otto Schulmann, son of a Jewish banking family in Munich who was replaced already in 1933 by Herbert v. Karajan, who had become a member of the NSDAP in that same year.
1930 - 1931Studies and exams at the ‚Akademie der Tonkunst in München‘.
16.9.1931 – 6.7.1935Masterclass for dramatic composition under Waltershausen.
1932-1935Assistant at the opera classes of Waltershausen and
after 1933with Hans Pfitzner.
1934The president of the Akademie f. Tonkunst, Siegmund v. Hausegger refuses to become a member of the NSDAP and is replaced by Richard Trunk (party member since 1931).
1935Karl Feilitzsch‘ career is interrupted fort e first time. He is no longer allowed to give lectures at the Academy due to his refusal to become a member of the NSDAP. 1935 membership in the NS student organization.
1938Feilitzsch spends 8 days in prison after having refused to raise his right arm for the so-called ‚Hitlergruß‘ (s. 16.1.1947, De-nazification Judgment p. 2, personnel file Feilitzsch, archive Hochschule f. Musik, Munich ).
1. November 1939Feilitzsch joins the small resistance group of Eugen Polzin who diesunder Gestapo torture in Berlin in 1942 without having revealed the names of his friends (s. Widerstand in Berlin gegen das NS Regime 1933-1945 – Ein biographisches Lexikon, 12 Bd. 2002-2006). This small group of four friends (Polzin, Otting, Feilitzsch and ?) operated in Berlin and Munich. The fourth member was possibly Fritz Molden (publisher in Munich) oder Richy Raffay of the Austrian resistance group „05“. The identity of the fourth member remains to be researched.
21. November 1939The 26-year old, pregnant future wife, Gerda Freiin v. Feilitzsch, is imprisoned by the Gestapo in Munich.
1. February 1940Karl Feilitzsch joins the NSDAP in order to help his future wife and to avoid his own impendig imprisonment (interview with Balbina Gräfin v. Otting, recorded 26. u. 27.1.2018).
10. February 1940The judicial proceedings against Gerda Feilitzsch are closed (see St.Archiv-M „Polizeidirektion München 8595“ und „Staatsanwaltschaften 5529“).
18. January 1941Marriage
14.10.1940 – 26.3.1943 Soldier in Russia.
1943The young couple converts to Catholicism, an important act as both descend from one of the first seven protestant families in Germany.
After the return from RussiaFeilitzsch writes his most important compositions: The Jazz cantata Apokalypse; the operas Lechbrucker Elegie, Metamorphosen der Liebe, Waldemar Dae, Der Müller und sein Kind.
From 1945 Work with the cabaret Schaubühne, a.o. Erich Kästner: „Die Hinterbliebenen“ and „Hurra wir sterben“ (see SZ vom 16.9.1948 "Schaubude im neuen Glanz").
16. January 1947Clearance through the Judgment of the De-nazification programm ( see certified copy in the personnel file Feilitzsch, archive Hochschule f. Musik, Munich ). Franz Graf von Otting, his close friend and co-member in the Polzin-Group wrote an explanation as to how Feilitzsch had been forced to become a party member (see affidavit 6.9.1945, personnel file Feilitzsch, archive Hochschule f. Musik, Munich ).
September 1949Debut Performance „Apokalypse“ at a radio broadcast by the Bayerischen Rundfunk (s. Münchner Merkur vom 9.9.1949, Radiowelt vom 25.9.49).
22. October 1951Debut Performance, and 5 further performances of the stage version of the „Apokalypse”. It was the first Debut Performance of the so-called „Uraufführungsbühne“ (First Performance Stage) at the „Brunnenhof Theater“ which worked amidst the ruins of the Munich Residenz (see Mitteilungsblatt der Münchner Uraufführungsbühne e.V. Nr.1/1951 vom 12.11.1951, and several reviews )
1949-196732 performances of his operas and ballets throughout Germany. Together with Oskar Sale, Feilitzsch experiments with the first electronic music using the “Mixtur-Trautonium” (s. „Der Münchner i. Himmel“). Composition of Bert Brechts political Lied „Die Judenhure Marie Sanders“ and E. Kästners „Wiegenlied männlicherseits“.
1950Bert Brecht and H. Schweikart ask Feilitzsch after the demise of Kurt Weill, to become musical director for the legendary theatre performance with Th.Ghiese of „Mother Courage“ at the Kammerspiele in Munich ( SZ vom 3.2.1998, „ Zum 100. Geburtstag von Bert Brecht: Erinnerungen an B.B. in München (Deutsche Grammophon Gesellschaft Polydor GmbH, Best Nr. 34064 "Therese Giehse singt aus Mutter Courage" musikal. Leitung Karl von Feilitzsch).
Cooperation with the Burgtheater Wien (Viktoria), touring also in Germany and Switzerland;
radio plays with Erich Kästner, Alverdes und Cube.
1954Salzburger Festspiele: Nestroy „Die Träume von Schale und Kern“ (see Almanach-Salzburg Festspiele 1952).
1952-58Art-Film of the „Apokalypse“ by Gisbert Hinke and K. Feilitzsch; 3 rd prizeat the Venice Film Binnale of 1958.
1954Publication of his psychological theory „K2M oder die Hypothese von der Nebelsäule“, a system of character studies at the Recht publishing house, Munich.
Numerous compositions for plays at the ‚Residenztheater‘ and the ‚Kammerspiele‘ in Munich with Axel v. Ambesser; Art films a.o. with Paul Alverdes and Felix Eberhard von Cube.
1961„Das Glaswerk“, a so-called ‚Industriefilm‘ for the Jena Glaswerke of the Schott AG, Mainz: Director- Hans Christian Schott, Camera- Florian Campoiche, Sound- Walter Kiaulen (s. Deutsche Zeitung mit Wirtschaftszeitung,“ Mensch Glas und Maschine- Neue Industriefilme in Frankfurt“, Stuttgart, 22.6.1961).
1962Electronic music for the animated film „ Der Münchner im Himmel“ after Ludwig Thoma (Traudl u. Walter Reiner; Text: Adolf Gondrell).
Mai 1964Schwabinger Kunstpreis (s. 16-/18.5.1964 – „Die fünf sehr geehrten Schwabinger“, Münchner Merkur, S.10; SZ, 16.5.64 "Schwabinger Kunstpreise 1964"; Zur Verleihung des Schwabinger Kunstpreises: SZ, 11.9.64; "Die Träger des Schwabinger Kunstpreises 1964"; SZ vom 14.9.64 "Die Kunstpreistäger im Künstlerhaus").
1964Earliest proof of the political work for Ecology and the green movement, „Die Grüne Aktion“ together with the member of the Bundestag, Dr.Günther Gleißner (CSU).
Feilitzsch writes political essays (manuscript of a political, philosophical book on the destruction of nature „Umweltschädigung-Nostalgie und die Zerstörung der Liturgie“.
9. November 1979TV interview by the WDR Politmagazin Monitor. His concerns about unrestricted industrialisation in nature are here interpreted as reactionary, neo-nazi views. As a consequence, Feilitzsch loses all commissions by the state and private industry until his death.
From 1970he teaches composition. Enoch zu Guttenberg becomes his most famous pupil and closest friend. Cooperation with the Chorgemeinschaft Neubeuern.
7. August 1981Karl Frhr. von Feilitzsch stirbt in München after having suffered cancer for over two years. (see 10.8.1981 – obituary, Süddeutsche Zeitung "Komponist und Kämpfer", Munich; 11.8.1981; – Obituary, Münchner Merkur, S.9; Karl Uhde: "zum Tode Karl von Feilitzschs", Münchner Stadtanzeiger Nr.61 vom 13.8.1981).

Biographical Documents, Judgement for his Political Clearance, Statement regarding his role in the Resistance by Franz Graf von Otting

Dokumente Karl Feilitzsch

Gestapo Akte von Gerda Feilitzsch

Gestapo-Akte Gerda Feilitzsch
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