A Prairie Home Companion with Garrison Keillor
Guests for March 3, 2001 (Berlin)

The Comedian Harmonists were a German singing sensation in the 1920s and 30s. Best known for their close harmony delivered with humor and style, the elegant sextet-five vocalists and a pianist-presented music ranging from folk songs to sentimental hits and novelty tunes. Due to the changing political climate in Germany in the early '30s, their career was cut short. Their songs-most by Jewish composers-were criticized by the Nazis, and the Jewish members of the group were forbidden to perform. They gave their last concert together in Munich on March 25, 1934. In 1994, director Martin Woelffer and music arranger Franz Wittenbrink developed a musical


The Berlin Comedian Harmonists

based on the career of the original Comedian Harmonists, called Veronika der Lenz ist da, die Comedian Harmonists. The play premiered on December 19, 1997, at the Komödie am Kurfürstendamm in Berlin and has since played over 400 performances throughout Germany. From the hundreds of actors and singers who auditioned for the play came the new sextet, THE BERLIN COMEDIAN HARMONISTS. This new group has gone on to perform concerts in Berlin, Hamburg, Frankfurt, Austria and Switzerland, and represented Germany at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia, performing two concerts in the German Pavilion. They have produced a CD and a video tape of their live concert at the Schiller Theatre in Berlin, which was also broadcast over German national television. The Berlin Comedian Harmonists are: Holger Off (1st tenor), Olaf Drauschke (1st baritone), Marko Woytowicz (2nd tenor), Philipp Seibert (2nd baritone), Tilmann Rönnebeck (bass), Franz Wittenbrink (piano).


Gayle Tufts

GAYLE TUFTS was born in Brockton, Massachusetts in 1960. She received her education at New York University's Experimental Theater Wing, where she studied acting, voice, and dance. She spent 13 years in New York City, working with a variety of artists, as well as presenting her own work. Tufts performed and toured with choreographer Yoshiko Chuma and her company The School Of Hard Knocks, and also worked with directors Anne Bogart and David Gordon, playwrights Nicky Silver and Ain Gordon, and composer Phillip Glass. In 1990, she relocated to Berlin, Germany, where she has established herself as an entertainer, author, stand-up comedian, and songwriter. She has written and produced her own sold-out shows, and has appeared on nationwide television and radio. By presenting her work in "Dinglish," a mix of German and English, she has broken through the language barrier. Her shows Absolutely Unterwegs, A Foreign Affair, The Big Show, and Miss Amerika are based on her own experiences and observations of everyday life as an "Auslaenderin" (foreigner) in Berlin. With her accompanist and songwriting partner, composer Rainer Bielfeldt (who joins her this evening), she has released three CDs, Absolutely Unterwegs (Live) and Dictionary Of Delight (both on the Bfel label) and Big Show (Megaphone). The two have also created music for dance pieces from the Komische Oper Berlin and the Rotterdam Dance Group (Holland). Tufts' book Absolutely Unterwegs: An American in Berlin was published in 1998, the same year she received the Berlin Critics' Prize for her contribution to the city's cultural landscape.


Max Raabe

MAX RAABE's singing career began in a children's choir in a boarding school in East Westphalia. He moved to Berlin in 1984, where he had several non-musical jobs, but also sang on small stages to finance his singing lessons. He studied opera at the University of Arts in Berlin for seven years, and specialized in baritone. Max Raabe has appeared in the Berliner cult production "Im Weißen Rössl," in the German movie "Der bewegte Mann," and in the television movie, "Charley's Aunt." Although he has performed three concerts at the Berliner Philharmonia, in which he sang in "Carmina Burana," Max Raabe has turned away from the classical music he studied at the university to devote himself to the dance and film music of the 1920s and 30s. In 1986, he co-founded the Palast Orchestra to interpet original arrangements of this music. As lead singer for the group, Mr. Raabe has a vast repertoire of 20s and 30s music, but has also begun composing his own songs. He wrote the tango, "Kein Schwein ruft mich an" (Why does no one call?), in 1992, originally just as a gag. But it turned out to be THE song to put on your answering machine, and one big mobile phone manufacturer even built the melody into their phones. They have several CD's, including Episode 1, Men are Worth Loving, Music Maestro, Please, and Charming Weill - Dance Band Arrangements, on BMG's RCA Red Seal label. Most recently, The Palast Orchestra featuring Max Raabe has been touring all around Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Holland, and has just returned from Riga, Latvia. Raabe is accompanied by Christoph Israel on piano.

Old Sweet Songs: A Prairie Home Companion 1974-1976

Old Sweet Songs

Lovingly selected from the earliest archives of A Prairie Home Companion, this heirloom collection represents the music from earliest years of the now legendary show: 1974–1976. With songs and tunes from jazz pianist Butch Thompson, mandolin maestro Peter Ostroushko, Dakota Dave Hull and the first house band, The Powdermilk Biscuit Band (Adam Granger, Bob Douglas and Mary DuShane).

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