Choirs and Music - Part two

Jun 15, 2018

The Estonian tradition of singing and of song festivals was not forgotten in Geislingen. Very soon there were four choirs: a men’s choir and three mixed choirs. Singing helped to overcome difficulties even in the most narrow circumstances of dp life. The work in the choir was a joined work carried out by vocation and emphasized by inner warmth.

The most famous became the men’s choir conducted by Roman Toi. Not only did they give concerts and performed at the official events and celebrations in Geislingen, they also performed in different camps and cities in the American zone, for refugees, UNRRA and the American Army. In 1948 even a recording was made for Radio Stuttgart.

To my great surprise this recording still existed. The person who located the recording in the archive of the radio, now SWR, seemed as surprised as me. The recording was digitalized and I could hear it. One of the songs would be perfect for the documentary: the sound is melancholic, the longing for Estonia so clear.

But then the question of rights came up: I had to pay the radio for the rights, a sum which was for me too high. What a shame! The recording fitted so well in the film. I also started to wonder why I needed to pay the SWR for the rights of this recording, because this was not evident.

In 1948, when the recording was made, the Federal Republic of Germany did not yet exist, as it came into existence on 23 May 1949; in 1948 there were still the Allied Zones of Occupation. But more interesting for me: The SDR, Süddeutsche Rundfunk, nowadays the SWR, didn’t exist either. This was created around the same time in 1949.

In 1948 there was Radio Stuttgart. The Americans, who were in favour of regional broadcasting, started four radio stations in 1945; Radio Stuttgart was one of them. Until the summer of 1949 the Radio stations belonged to the Americans and therefor, so I think, also owned the rights. Then the totally new radio station SDR was established.  

The question was: who owned the rights of the recordings made before 1949? The Americans or the Germans? Did the Americans handed over the archive and did they make a contract for this, or did the Americans simply leave the archive in Germany and the SDR found the archive as part of the inventory take over?

Though the record survived, the contract for the recording didn’t. I wrote to the radio station, hoping to find a solution and as my budget was extremely tight, I hoped for a cheap solution. And then time just passed. But not long ago I received a message of the SWR: they had concluded that producer-right of the recording is expired. This was again a great surprise. Now I can use the song.