Villi Sommerfeld

Villi Sommerfeld

Composer and conductor for radio and documentary films
Country: Poland

Biography of Willy Sommerfeld

Willy Sommerfeld, a composer and conductor for radio and documentary films, was born in Gdansk. In 1916, he moved to Berlin to study at the conservatory. He worked part-time in the cinema, playing the violin and later the piano. After graduating from the conservatory, he became a conductor at the State Theater in Braunschweig.

In 1933, Sommerfeld was dismissed for refusing to greet the authorities with a "Heil Hitler!" salute. However, this did not deter him from pursuing his passion for music. He continued to work as a composer and conductor for radio and documentary films, as well as writing music for theatrical performances and arranging music.

Later in life, at the age of 70, Sommerfeld embarked on a second career as a taper, improvising music to accompany silent films. Despite not being a filmmaker or an actor, he served as a simple taper in a movie theater. It was during this time that Sommerfeld gained true fame.

Sommerfeld worked at the familiar Arsenal cinema in Berlin, where his vast musical memory came to the forefront. On one occasion, when Nicholas II appeared on the screen in a documentary film, he spontaneously played the old Russian anthem, "God Save the Tsar!"

Sommerfeld married only once, at the age of 54, to a woman 27 years his junior. They continue to live together to this day.

In recognition of his contributions to German cinema, Willy Sommerfeld was awarded the "Camera" prize at the Berlin Film Festival, shortly before his 100th birthday in May.