January 22, 2007

Peer Raben, 1940 - 2007.

Peer Raben
For years, Peer Raben worked closely with the legendary director Rainer Werner Fassbinder. He not only wrote the music for many of his films (Lili Marleen, Berlin Alexanderplatz, Lola, Veronika Voss, among others) but also worked as a producer. The composer's workshop he founded in Munich has announced that he died on Sunday evening at the age of 66.

Raben has been active recently as well: He composed the music, for example, for Wong Kar-wai's 2046.

The DPA.

Updated through 1/23.

Raben's musical choices perfectly complement Fassbinder's narratives, with his parodic twists to light entertainment (in places, an outright indulgence in conscious schmaltz), or else mock-dramatic music.

Roger Hillman, "Fassbinder, and Fassbinder/Peer Raben," Screening the Past, March 2001.

See also: the site and this terrific photo (1968).

Update: "How to describe Raben's music?" asks C Jerry Kutner at Bright Lights After Dark. "It was as bittersweet as a hurdy-gurdy played on a streetcorner in Lang's Berlin, or as melancholy as a tango in a Parisian brothel. He was modern, but only in the sense that early 20th Century composers like Stravinsky, Bartok, and Kurt Weill are considered modern. Just as Fassbinder's films got better and better, so did Raben's music, and his last Fassbinder scores, the ones written in the early 1980s, are his most memorable: Querrelle, Berlin Alexanderplatz (a 15-hour miniseries), and Lola."

Update, 1/23: The German papers: Peter Uehling in the Berliner Zeitung, Christian Schröder in Der Tagesspiegel and Die Welt.

Bookmark and Share

Posted by dwhudson at January 22, 2007 9:30 AM


Has anyone any idea of the cause of Raben's premature death at 66? It seems that with Daniel Schmid's death last year, few of Fassbinder's male entourage are still alive.

Posted by: ronald bergan at January 25, 2007 3:54 AM

You know, none of the papers mentioned the cause, so I just went Googling, and found that queer.de has the answer. It was cancer (but what kind, it doesn't say):


Combined with the papers, then, we know that he died in a clinic in Mitterfels, a town near Munich in Bavaria.

Hope this helps!

Posted by: David Hudson at January 25, 2007 5:14 AM

One of my most prized posessions is a three-cd set of Raben's film music which was produced and presented to me by the late Thomas Karban. Karban was also my producer in 1993; we recorded thirteen cds of orchestral film music for Edel. Karban told me that Raben was very ill even then.

William Motzing

Posted by: william motzing at January 27, 2007 3:17 PM

I had no idea. And to think that just a couple of weeks ago, I picked up a double-CD release of two Fassbinder radio plays. Naturally, Raben scores both, but what I truly prize is the double credit for the direction of Ganz in weiss: "Rainer Werner Fassbinder und Peer Raben."

Posted by: David Hudson at January 27, 2007 4:04 PM