Karl-Ernst Sasse

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Karl-Ernst Sasse (born December 5, 1923 in Bremen ; † November 12, 2006 in Potsdam-Babelsberg ) was a German composer and conductor . He was considered one of the most important film composers in the GDR . His life's work as a composer includes numerous stage music as well as more than 500 film settings for various DEFA films. In the 1960s and 1970s he composed the music for several DEFA Indian films and silent film classics that made him famous. From 1959 to 1964 he was chief conductor of the DEFA Symphony Orchestra Potsdam-Babelsberg and from 1964 to 1967 of the State Symphony Orchestra Halle .


Early years

Karl-Ernst Sasse was born in Bremen in 1923 as the son of the music teacher and conductor Ernst Sasse and his wife Herta, a chemical assistant. As a child, he received massive artistic support from his parents. At the age of seven he received private lessons and learned to play various musical instruments such as piano, flute, viola and saxophone at an early age. At the age of ten he composed his own pieces for the first time and dealt with music theory as an autodidact .

He started his school career in Bückeburg, where he attended the Adolphinum grammar school from 1934 to 1936 . He then moved to the Athenaeum High School in Stade for four years and once again to Sondershausen , where he graduated from high school in 1942. In April 1942 he was drafted into the Wehrmacht and transferred to the Air Force , where he first played in a music corp in Nordhausen and later founded an orchestra at the Aviation School in Silesia .

Career start

After the end of the war he studied from October 1, 1945 at the Sondershausen Conservatory in the fields of conducting, composition, piano, viola and singing. Parallel to his studies, Sasse worked as a répétiteur and opera conductor at the Landestheater Sondershausen. In 1948 he became first opera conductor and in 1950 musical senior director. This was followed by his work as a solo repetiteur and conductor at the Landestheater Meiningen (1948–1951). He also built the municipal orchestra in Wernigerode as the municipal music director (1951–1956), and subsequently conducted various symphony and spa concerts. As Kapellmeister and second conductor under Horst Förster , he moved to the State Symphony Orchestra Halle (1956–1958).

On January 1, 1959, Sasse took over the direction of the DEFA Symphony Orchestra Potsdam-Babelsberg and set numerous films to music for the DEFA studios in the course of his career. Initially he only supervised the recording of the compositions, later he also created his own pieces for a variety of film genres. While working for DEFA and television in the GDR , Sasse became chief conductor of the State Symphony Orchestra in Halle in 1964 . a. the " song of solidarity ".


The television film Monologue for a Taxi Driver by Günter Kunert and Günter Stahnke , for which he wrote his first music in 1962, was banned and only shown in 1990. His first feature film was The Secret of 17 , a children's film from 1963. A year later he made his feature film debut with the music for Alaska Foxes . From 1967 Sasse worked as a freelance artist and became DEFA's busiest composer, who created around 550 film settings before the East German film production company was dissolved. In the 1960s and 1970s he composed the music for several DEFA Indian films with Gojko Mitić in the lead role ( Trail of the Falcon , White Wolves , Ulzana , Blood Brothers and The Scout ). In the 1970s he contributed the music to several silent film classics ( The Golem, How He Came Into the World , The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari , From Morning to Midnight and The Oyster Princess ). In the 1990s he wrote the music for reconstructed silent films a. a. The last man on behalf of the Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau Society .

In addition to his film work, Sasse composed stage music for various East German theaters in Potsdam, Brandenburg and Berlin. In addition, he created various songs, musicals, chansons and the children's ballet Hase und Igel , which was premiered in Buna in 1969 .


Karl-Ernst Sasse had been married to Soubrette Inge Burg since 1949 . He died on November 12, 2006 in Potsdam-Babelsberg.


Works (selection)


  • Four songs ( Christian Morgenstern ) for soprano and chamber orchestra, 1955
  • The year in the forest (Hans Möskenthin). Cantata for soprano, tenor, mixed choir and chamber orchestra
  • Requiem for the unknown dead of Hiroshima (Eugen Jebeleanu) for 6-part mixed choir a-capella, 1972
  • “Sequenzen” for large orchestra, 1976
  • Nocturnes for large orchestra, 1982
  • The time, it pulls on the reins (Larissa Wassiljewa, text adaptation: Sarah Kirsch). Four songs for soprano, flute, violin and harpsichord, 1976
  • “Notenbüchel für Zwei” for flute and tuba, 1981
  • Serenade for oboe, clarinet and bassoon, 2001
  • “Kirmes” for 2 clarinets, alto and bass clarinets, 2001
  • "Syrinx" for clarinet solo, 2001

Film music


  • Gabriele Baumgartner: Reuter, Rolf . In: Gabriele Baumgartner, Dieter Hebig (Hrsg.): Biographisches Handbuch der SBZ / DDR. 1945–1990. Volume 2: Maaßen – Zylla . Addendum to Volume 1, KG Saur, Munich 1997, ISBN 3-598-11177-0 , p. 755.
  • Hans-Michael Bock : Karl-Ernst Sasse . In the S. (Ed.): CineGraph Compact. Compact lexicon on German-language films . Edition Text & Criticism, München 1984.
  • Vera Grützner: Musician in Brandenburg from the 16th century to the present . Jaron, Berlin 2004, ISBN 3-89773-507-5 , p. 220.
  • Wolfgang Klaue , Christiane Mückenberger (Ed.): Film A – Z. Directors, cameramen, authors, composers, scenographers, technical terms . Henschel, Berlin 1984.
  • Karl-Ernst Sasse - “I am, so to speak, an order composer” , interview with Mike Beilfuß, in: Cinema Musica . Issue 5 / July 2006, pp. 22-29

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. a b cf. GDR film composer dies on Spiegel Online ; Retrieved June 27, 2007
  2. a b c d e Vera Grützner: Musicians in Brandenburg from the 16th century to the present . Jaron, Berlin 2004, ISBN 3-89773-507-5 , p. 220.
  3. High awards given . In: Berliner Zeitung , October 8, 1986, vol. 42, issue 237, p. 4.