The wonderful Hildegard Knef was born this day in 1925 and achieved modest success outside Germany in the 1960s. Back home the German public followed her through highs and lows in a long career as an actress then as a singer, through divorce, bankruptcy and cancer, and her 1970 autobiography was the most successful German book of the post-war era. She was the subject of a biopic released earlier this year, seven years after her death.
Knef was a peerless interpreter, with a voice of limited range but extraordinary expressive power; Ella Fitzgerald called her “the greatest singer without a voice” which was both incisive and a little hurtful. A born and bred Berliner, die Knef here evokes the damaged charm of her hometown, where she still has a suitcase…
…and for whose Ku’damm she longs.
“Von nun an ging’s bergab” (“It was all downhill from there”) is an arch, ironic summary of the bumpy ride that constituted her own life (cf. The Mamas & the Papas’ “Creeque Alley”):
“Pirate Jenny” from Die Dreigroschenoper, which makes you regret she didn’t do a whole album of Brecht songs:
And naturally her anthem, “Für mich soll’s rote Rosen regnen” (“It should rain red roses for me”):
About XIIDX, the Strange Flowers XII Days of Xmas Film Festival