Film Screening MOVEMENTS

Ursula Mamlok © Dwight und Ursula Mamlok Foundation

Wed, 05/24/2023

7:00 PM

Goethe-Institut Boston

A tribute to composer Ursula Mamlok

Ursula Mamlok – Movements, a cinematic portrait of the composer Ursula Mamlok, by Anne Berrini.

For Ursula Mamlok, music was the meaning of her life: composing offered her solace at a time when the world was collapsing around her.

Born to a Jewish family in Berlin in 1923, Mamlok was a precocious, talented teenager with a single dream: becoming a composer. Then Germany descended into Nazi oppression, and by the time Mamlok was sixteen, she and her parents made a last-minute escape to Ecuador. Dissatisfied with her new home's lack of musical perspective, the teenager wrote letters to musicians abroad, one of which gained her a scholarship to the Mannes School of Music in New York City. Thus, as a 17-year-old she came to New York, alone, with no money, unable to speak English, and ready to embark on a career that was both trailblazing and successful.

Mamlok would remain in New York City for the next sixty-six years, soaking up inspiration from some of the most important European musicians who were living in exile, as well as from composers from the American avant-garde. She taught composition at the Manhattan School of Music for almost forty years, and her award-winning works became part of the city’s concert life.

In 2006, at age 83, Ursula Mamlok returned to Berlin, the city of her birth: a decision that presented her with new challenges, both musical and emotional.

In her documentary Ursula Mamlok - Movements, filmmaker Anne Berrini offers a sensitive examination of Mamlok's life, and of the music that played such a central part in it. Berrini observes the composer at work in Germany and accompanies her on a trip to New York City, where Mamlok prepares for a League of Composers concert, meets old friends, and revisits a critically important period of her life.

Director: Anne Berrini
Germany 2014
HD, 80 min.
German with English subtitles