Günther School

»Günther’s name had a magnetic effect.«[1]

»She (Dorothee Günther) had long been recognised [...]within gymnastic circles as an expert within this field.«[3] (The Günther School in the Kaulbachstraße in Munich)
(The "Günther School Munich", Kaulbachstraße 16)

In 1924, during the era of the rhythm and dance movement, Orff founded a training centre for gymnastics and dance, the Günther School in Munich, in cooperation with Dorothee Günther, a gymnastics teacher, graphic artist and author.

For this school, the composer developed his concept of an elemental music which was a synthesis of music, language and movement. The objective was the ›regeneration of music through movement, with the aid of dance‹ [2].

Encouraged by Curt Sachs to approach non-European music, particularly to become acquainted with the instruments utilised, Orff developed his collection of instruments later known as Orff instruments which were subsequently fundamentally important both for the Schulwerk and his compositions for the stage.

   

»We began with seventeen trainee students between the ages of 18 and 22. The training course was structured over two to three years. [...] There were no funds available for propaganda purposes, but Günther’s name was a magnet; the total of pupils increased substantially each semester. [...] Our begin was a success.«[1] In 1926, Gunild Keetman joins the Günther School. (Gunild Keetman 1930)
»Günther planned a school offering a variety of different teaching courses within the fields of modern physical education and dance. [...]. She planned to offer [...] gymnastics, rhythmic gymnastics and artistic dance [...].«[3] (Maja Lex around 1930)
»Orff’s inspired and committed teaching stood in contrast to all my previous experiences. When he sat down at the piano and began playing, [...] he was able to conjure up new sounds and provided us with unforgettable examples of all musical styles which he had improvised on the spot.«[4] (Orff-Keetman)
»This music was frequently strenuous [...] and customarily defied the laws of symmetry and its corresponding rules to create large new spaces. Our adjustment to this initially foreign music occurred almost imperceptibly; through our own improvisation, we became accustomed to it and our initial unfamiliarity was transformed into intimacy.«[4] (Gunild Keetman teaching xylophone in the Günther School 1933)
In 1934, the organiser of the 1936Olympic Games, Carl Diem, requested Orff to organise part of the music for the opening ceremony. Orff delegated the complete production and direction to Keetman and Günther assumed responsibility for the choreography. »Both the German and foreign press made largely positive comments on Günther’s production and the music and dance.«[5] (Day rehearsal of the round dance in the Olympic Stadium, 1936)
In 1944, the schoolhouse in Munich was closed by the Nazis and was burned down completely in an air-raid.»That was the end of the Günther School.«[6] (Carl Orff and Gunild Keetman 1975)

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[1] CO-Dok III,15; [2] CO-Dok III,17; [3] CO-Dok III,12; [4] Gunild Keetman: Erinnerungen an die Gunther-Schule, in: Bavarian State Library, Das Orff-Schulwerk (exhibition catalogue 18, ed. Robert Münster and Renata Wagner), Tutzing 1978, S. 13/14; [5] based on CO-Dok III,204-206; [6] based on CO-Dok III,210/211
Images : 1-2 OZM; 3 Minna Ronnefeld; 4-5 OZM; 6 Christa Feiler
Audio: music documentation RCA 09026 68031 2; Arthur Groß - WER 4006-50

 

AUDIO:
Intrade f. Pauken u. Trompeten (Schulwerk Bd. V)

AUDIO:
Zu Maien, zu Maien (Schulwerk Bd. V)

AUDIO:
Ekstatischer Tanz

Günther School

School radio broadcasts

Academy of Music in Munich