Franz Grothe (composer)

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Franz Grothe (born September 17, 1908 in Berlin , † September 12, 1982 in Cologne ; full name Franz Johannes August Grothe ) was one of the most popular German composers and conductors of the 20th century. Since the beginning of the sound film , he has composed many melodies and hits .


Grothes father was a pianist, the mother a concert singer. At the age of five the boy received violin lessons. A year later he started playing the piano. The first compositions were made at the age of ten. The musical talent enrolled at the Berlin School of Music .

After an initial collaboration with the Berlin operetta composer Hugo Hirsch in the summer of 1925, Grothe arranged his revue Wieder Metropol in September 1926 , to which he sat at the piano and contributed a jazz suite. Dajos Béla then hired him as a pianist and arranger with the Dajos Béla orchestra , which at that time published exclusively under the Lindström Odeon brand. Here Grothe was able to use his skills in the arrangements of the pieces and also perform his own compositions.

Franz Grothe achieved his breakthrough at the end of the 1920s when the tenor Richard Tauber sang his composition, the song Rosen und Frau'n. Further recordings with Tauber followed. Grothe created the first film music for the film The Night Belongs to Us in 1929. With Edition Franz Grothe he had his own music publisher in 1931, which had to be given up in 1933 when his Jewish business partners emigrated.

After the seizure of power of the Nazis , he joined the Nazi party in and was run as a Member since May 1933 (no. 2580427).

Grothes partner in the 1930s was Anna "Niuta" Joffe, the stepdaughter of the film producer Gregor Rabinovitch , who was successful in France and Germany . When Rabinovitch, under pressure from the film chamber, left Berlin and went to the USA via Vienna and Paris, he got Grothe a contract with the Universal film studios in Hollywood through Paul Kohner , temporarily head of Deutsche Universal, and the universal founder Carl Laemmle . While Grothe embarked for America in May 1936, the structures that were supposed to force him in Hollywood dissolved. Grothe was employed thanks to his contract, but his English was poor and he couldn't get on with the American studio system. In December 1936 Grothe traveled back to Europe, presumably with the Rabinovitchs. In autumn 1937 he worked in Vienna with Marta Eggerth, who had also returned from the USA, and composed the film music for Always when I'm happy . In May 1938 he married the Norwegian actress and singer Kirsten Heiberg in Oslo , whom he had met in November 1937 in Vienna. After the couple separated in the summer of 1951 and Heiberg returned to Norway, they divorced in April 1960.

During the Second World War , he composed not only film music but also “perseverance songs” such as 1941 We'll rock the child and 1942 when our Berlin is also darkened. In 1942, Grothe made a career leap in the Nazi hierarchy: he became deputy "Fachschaftsleiter composer" of the Reichsmusikkammer , broadcasting group leader "Upper entertainment music and operetta" at Großdeutscher Rundfunk and artistic director of the German dance and entertainment orchestra . The state orchestra, which consists of 32 members and is sponsored by the radio, brought together top musicians of German dance music and, in addition to works of modern rhythmic light music, also came up with remarkable swing arrangements that were clearly similar to comparable international bands. Grothe and his co-conductor Georg Haentzschel found themselves increasingly exposed to accusations of non-compliance with applicable musical guidelines from their superiors and other official Nazi agencies. The situation escalated, and on 31 January 1944, both orchestra conductors were personal instruction from Joseph Goebbels dismissed and Barnabas von Géczy and Willi Stech replaced the then declared intention of both musicians, to provide him with their broadcast positions as broadcast group leader available, was another Order of the Propaganda Minister strictly prohibited.

In February 1945, Grothe and his wife traveled to Radstadt in the Austrian Hohe Tauern to film the film "The Doll" . The Grothe couple came to Murnau via Munich , where they saw the end of the war on the Feder estate. In May 1946, he submitted to the American denazification process in his place of residence in Murnau. He answered all questions truthfully, but stated that he was not a member of the NSDAP. Finding the index card of the Berlin membership file on which his name, address, occupation and membership number were listed, led to the fact that his previously issued work permit was revoked. In the fall of 1946 an American military court sentenced him to a fine of RM 10,000. Until a trial chamber procedure he was not allowed to work as a composer or orchestra director in an official position. In the months that followed, he traveled the country with his wife and other artists such as Grethe Weiser and played the piano in barns and gyms. After a trial chamber hearing in Weilheim, Upper Bavaria in April 1948, he received a non-affected card (NB) on April 21, 1948. With this he immediately applied for funk and film in Hamburg. The Licensing Adviser of the Information Services Division asked in Weilheim in June 1948 why Grothe had received an NB card despite his party membership, demanded that this card be withdrawn and the proceedings before the main chamber in Munich be resumed. The application of the Main Chamber in Munich in September 1949 demanded that Grothe be classified in Group II (incriminated). To the end, Grothe claimed "not to have knowingly been a member of the party" and tried to prove this with evidence of repute, such as the film arranger Alfred Strasser , who was classified as Nazi persecuted by the Jewish wife of his copyist Borgers, Karl Wilczynskis or Grothes of impeccable character and even a critical attitude towards the regime. The court finally classified him as a fellow traveler (group IV) and sentenced him to an atonement of 500 DM and to assume the costs of the proceedings. From 1950 he successfully continued his film work, u. a. with a series of films with Curt Goetz and Ruth Leuwerik , for which Grothe wrote the music. The instrumental composition Midnight Blues , composed in 1956, developed into his greatest international success and in 1958 achieved the status of a million seller . He got on particularly well with director Kurt Hoffmann and set several of his films to music in the late 1950s. In 1960 he wrote the music for the numerous songs in the feature film Heldinnen with Marianne Koch , Johanna von Koczian , Paul Hubschmid and others. a.

From 1965 television became his profession. In the entertainment program Zum Blauen Bock he took over the musical direction as a conductor until his death in 1982 and wrote over 400 songs with Heinz Schenk , including for Rudolf Schock , Erika Köth , Renate Holm , Ernst Hilbich and Willy Hofmann .

Franz Grothe wrote the music for around 170 films between 1929 and 1969. His oeuvre is also characterized by music of the Viennese and Hungarian style and swinging jazz . By 1945 he had already set 71 films to music and after the Second World War he was able to continue this series. The musical Das Wirtshaus im Spessart (1977) and several operettas testify to his wealth of ideas. His trumpet solo from the film Whenever the day begins - the midnight blues blew in the film Billy Mo - became an evergreen.

From his relationship with Anneliese Metzner (1913–1963) he became the father of a daughter, Karin, in 1957, whom he brought to Bad Wiessee and adopted after his mother's death in 1963. In 1966 he married Karin Steinohrt, geb. Eckert (1920–1988).

In 1960 the composer set up the Franz Grothe Foundation in Bad Wiessee , which is committed to supporting capable and needy composers and musicians and is intended to keep the memory of the founder alive. The archive of the Franz Grothe-Stiftun is located in Berlin.

In 1972 Grothe took over the office of chairman of the supervisory board of the copyright company GEMA .

On September 10, 1982 he collapsed during a concert in Cologne and died two days later of the consequences of an aortic tear. The composer found his final resting place in the mountain cemetery in his last place of residence, Bad Wiessee .

On the occasion of his 100th birthday in 2008, the WDR organized a commemorative concert "On the wings of colorful dreams" in the Cologne Philharmonic with his works. In June 2019, on the occasion of his 110th birthday, there was a concert with his works and discussions with contemporary witnesses and his biographers in his former home in Bad Wiessee.

Overview of his work

Title of the composer (selection)

  • On the wings of colorful dreams
  • You and me and the sunshine
  • A waltz for you and for me
  • It's all just borrowed
  • Spring in Vienna
  • The night comes very quietly
  • Good day, dear luck
  • Today is Carnival in Knieritz an der Knatter
  • High up on the mountain
  • A hundred full glasses
  • I'm knocking on your door tonight
  • I'll count it on the buttons
  • People don't like to be alone at night
  • I'm waiting for you
  • Every woman has a sweet secret
  • Calendar song
  • Come and give me your hand
  • Midnight Blues (Trumpet solo from the movie Always When the Day Begins , 1957)
  • Musicians are there
  • Postillion song
  • As beautiful as the young spring
  • Sing with me
  • Heidi
  • A kiss like that comes by itself
  • As beautiful as it is today, it has to stay that way
  • Why did Napoleon
  • When a young man comes
  • A song sounds through the night


  • Morals (1974)
  • The tavern in the Spessart (1977)

Film music (selection)


Franz-Grothe-Weg in Berlin-Dahlem (2012)


Web links


Theresa Henkel, Franzpeter Messmer (ed.): Franz Grothe ( Composers in Bavaria Volume 64), Munich 2019, ISBN 978-3-96233-115-3

Individual evidence

  1. Lutz Fahrenkrog-Petersen, Melanie Kühn: Franz Grothe - On the wings of colorful dreams. In: Theresa Henkel, Franzpeter Messmer (ed.): Franz Grothe (Composers in Bavaria, Volume 64). Munich 2019, p. 11f.
  2. Fahrenkrog-Petersen, Kühn, p. 12
  3. Fahrenkrog-Petersen, Kühn, p. 13
  4. Fahrenkrog-Petersen, Kühn, p. 13
  5. ^ A b Ernst Klee : The cultural lexicon for the Third Reich. Who was what before and after 1945. S. Fischer, Frankfurt am Main 2007, ISBN 978-3-10-039326-5 , p. 202.
  6. Fahrenkrog-Petersen, Kühn, p. 16f.
  7. Fahrenkrog-Petersen, Kühn, p. 18
  8. Alexander Hess: Kirsten Heiberg - Muse and "Vamp against will. In: Theresa Henkel, Franzpeter Messmer (ed.): Franz Grothe (composers in Bavaria, volume 64). Munich 2019, p. 40ff.".
  9. Axel Jockwer: light music in the Third Reich. Dissertation Uni Konstanz 2005, page 251 ( PDF file , accessed on August 10, 2010).
  10. Wolfgang Behr: The small orchestra of the Südwestfunk under the direction of Willi Stech . Nomos Verlagsgesellschaft, Baden-Baden 1994, p. 89 .
  11. Radio interview: Remembering the Golden Seven and the DTUO, Günter Krenz in conversation with Georg Haentzschel . Ed .: Westdeutscher Rundfunk. Cologne 1988.
  12. Kühn, Fahrenkrog-Petersen, p. 25
  13. Kühn, Fahrenkrog-Petersen, p. 25
  14. ibid
  15. Kühn-Fahrenkrog-Petersen, p. 26
  16. ibid
  17. Kühn, Fahrenkrog-Petersen, p. 28f.
  19. Fahrenkrog-Petersen, Kühn, p. 9