Biography

Frank Strobel, who believes in transcending perceived divisions between artistic genres, is renowned as a conductor, arranger, editor, producer and studio musician. He has been active for many years in the space where films meet music and is a leading figure in the field of film in concert. He has taken silent movies into opera houses and concert halls and is also admired as a conductor of concert repertoire of the Classical and Romantic eras and the 20th century.

Born in Munich in 1966, Strobel grew up in his parents’ cinema and gained skills as a projectionist at an early age. He remains fascinated by film and soundtracks. As a 16-year-old he obtained a piano score of Gottfried Huppertz‘s original music for Fritz Lang’s cinematic masterpiece Metropolis, which he rearranged and then played to accompany the film, arrangements have since been performed numerous times. Metropolis again played a determining role in Strobel’s career after an original copy of the film was discovered in 2008 in Buenos Aires. He played an active role in its reconstruction, having recreated Huppertz’s scores for both Metropolis and Lang’s two-part film Die Nibelungen. The much-anticipated premiere of the restored version of Metropolis took place at the 2010 Berlin International Film Festival with Strobel conducting the Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra. It was broadcast live on the TV channel arte and projected onto Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate.

Strobel is also in demand internationally for performances of music by the late-Romantic composers Franz Schreker, Alexander von Zemlinsky and Siegfried Wagner, whose works he has both revived and premiered. His open-minded musical philosophy struck a chord with the great Russian-born composer Alfred Schnittke, who came to see Strobel as an ideal interpreter of his works and commissioned him to make concert suites from a selection of his 60 or so film scores; this led to recordings with the Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra, which in 2005 and 2006 received the Deutscher Schallplattenpreis. Recordings of Schnittke’s three piano concertos, with Eva Kupiec as soloist have also been released. As early as 1992 Strobel had conducted the world premiere in Frankfurt’s Alte Oper of Schnittke’s End of St Petersburg, written to accompany Vsevolod Pudovkin‘s silent film. Strobel also reconstructed and published Prokofiev’s score for Eisenstein’s Alexander Nevsky, conducting the Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra in the world premiere of his edition at the German capital’s Konzerthaus in 2004; this was followed by a performance at Moscow’s Bolshoi Theatre. In 2006, at Dresden’s Semperoper Strobel conducted the Sächsische Staatskapelle for a screening of Robert Wiene‘s 1925 film of Der Rosenkavalier, with the reconstructed Strauss’ original orchestral score. A much more recent film, the science fiction extravaganza The Matrix was screened at London’s Royal Albert Hall in 2011, with Don Davis‘ score performed live by the NDR Pops Orchestra under Strobel. The event was subsequently repeated elsewhere. 

2014 brought the commemoration of the outbreak of World War I with the world premiere at the Salle Pleyel in Paris of Philippe Schoeller’s newly-written score for Abel Gance’s 1919 film, J’accuse; Frank Strobel conducted the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France. A TV presentation by ZDF/arte of the classic 1920s film Zur Chronik von Grieshuus brought a new collaboration between Strobel and the Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra; the team of conductor and orchestra had already recorded the music for the prizewinning German TV thriller Im Schmerz geboren and they were reunited in November 2015 at Frankfurt’s Alte Oper to provide the live soundtrack to Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Among his many film-related concerts in the 2015-16 season was a presentation of F.W. Murnau’s rediscovered Tartüff (1925) at the Komische Oper in Berlin.

With the Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra he explored the connections between two historic films: Pacific 231 (1949), which uses music by Arthur Honegger, and Berlin, Sinfonie einer Großstadt (1927) with a score by Edmund Meisel. Over the season Strobel is conducting Milan’s Filarmonica della Scala in Metropolis, the Hamburg Symphony Orchestra in Pablo Berger’s 2012 silent movie Blancanieves, which has a score by Alfonso de Vilallonga, and the Hong Kong Philharmonic in Charlie Chaplin’s The Gold Rush. At London’s Royal Festival Hall, he will conduct the Philharmonia Orchestra and the violinist Vadim Repin in the world premiere of a new score written by Aphrodite Raickopoulou for the Greta Garbo film Love. He will also appear in a concert of symphonic works by Dvo?ák and Shostakovich with the Poznán Philharmonic Orchestra.

Frank Strobel enjoys close relationships in Germany with Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra, Deutsche Staatsphilharmonie Rheinland-Pfalz, Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra, MDR Leipzig Radio Symphony Orchestra, NDR Radio Philharmonic Orchestra Hannover, Staatskapelle Weimar and internationally with the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra, London Symphony Orchestra, Orchestre National de Lyon, Orchestre Philharmonique du Luxembourg, and with major concert halls such as the Cologne Philharmonie, the Paris Philharmonie and the Vienna Konzerthaus.

In the 1990s Frank Strobel was Chief Conductor of the German Film Orchestra Babelsberg, and he acts as an adviser to ZDF/arte for its silent film programming. Since 2000 he has been artistic director of the EUROPEAN FILMPHILHARMONIC INSTITUTE, which he co-founded and which has built a reputation for its expertise in authentic performances of film scores.

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