Edmund Meisel

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A composer principally associated with the stage for much of his tragically short career, Vienna-born Edmund Meisel's most prominent association was with theatrical director Erwin Piscator, and his work…
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A composer principally associated with the stage for much of his tragically short career, Vienna-born Edmund Meisel's most prominent association was with theatrical director Erwin Piscator, and his work in the early '20s included writing the incidental music for pieces by Bertholt Brecht. In 1925, the German distributor of Sergei Eisenstein's movie Battleship Potemkin, seeking to capitalize on the movie's unexpected popularity in Berlin, decided to commission a new score to replace the rather pedestrian music with which it had been released and was playing in theaters, and began looking for a composer. Maria Andreova, the wife of Maxim Gorky, chanced to recommend Edmund Meisel. Working under siege conditions, with just 12 days to compose and orchestrate his work, he generated a landmark movie score that astonished everyone who heard it and delighted Eisenstein. Meisel would go on to score just a tiny handful more movies before his death at the tragically young age of 36, in 1930 -- ironically, his music for Potemkin would get lost amid the transition from silents to sound and not be heard again until the 1990s, when it was restored and the first full-fledged recordings of his work released (on the Edel label). He has belatedly come to be recognized as the most important film composer of the silent era and the father of the modern movie score.