FMF Krakow: The Neverending Story and Titanic

This report is the first in a series about the film music festival in Krakow, Poland. I have attended this festival since 2011, and every year they show at least one movie on a big screen with a live orchestra playing the music. Last year it was Raiders of the Lost Ark. This year they were doing two movies: The Neverending Story and Titanic.

The Neverending Story

For many people, the first movie of the festival was a childhood gem: The Neverending Story with music from Klaus Doldinger. If you know a bit about the movie and the music, the first thing that will pop into your mind is: “Did Giorgio Moroder not co-write some music?” Well, he did for the American version, but we were treated to the original German movie that evening. The film screening with live music would be a world premiere.

The location for this concert was the congress center in Krakow: a decently sized venue.  On stage was an orchestra and a small choir that were conducted by Christian Schumann: a returning guest of the festival. As he did in previous years, he led the orchestra with a very methodical style. The images on the screen were from a movie from the early ‘80s, but I was surprised by how good the effects were from that time. The orchestra’s performance was absolutely gorgeous–it was spot on. One of the highlights was the pan flute melody in the swamp scene. It just boggles my mind that this version was not included in the American version. It is just so sad and beautiful. The only cue that could surpass that was, of course, “Flug auf dem Glücksdrachen” with full orchestra, choir, drums and bass guitar.

During the end credits, Klaus Doldinger walked on the stage with a borrowed silver saxophone and started playing the “Flug auf dem Glücksdrachen” music together with the orchestra to the great delight of the audience. Most film screenings do not have an encore, but this one did. Doldinger just started jamming on his sax. To conclude the evening he grabbed the microphone and thanked the audience and the musicians for the great experience.

Neverending Story at FMF in Krakow
Klaus Doldinger playing on the sax at the end of the movie

Overall, this film screening was very well executed. The screen was great and the orchestra and choir performed very well. The awesome end title part with Doldinger and all the other musicians will stay in my mind for a long time.

Where and when: Krakow, Poland – May 18th, 2017 during the Film Music Festival
Orchestra: Sinfonietta Cracovia conducted by Christian Schumann
Choir: Cracow Singers
Guest: Klaus Doldinger


The second movie was a bit bigger in scale. It was a film screening of Titanic in Tauron Arena: a huge sports venue, that can hold more than 12,000 people. Composer James Horner was supposed to be the guest of this evening, but unfortunately, he is no longer with us. His music still lives in movies like Titanic, which was performed by an orchestra in a completely packed arena. The conductor of the evening was Ludwig Wicki, who is an expert in conducting film screenings.  It is always great to see his energetic conducting on stage. The orchestra was accompanied by a children’s choir, an uilleann pipes player, a soprano and some musicians for the Irish Party sequence.

I was pleased that the music never distracted from the images on screen since this was the first time i had ever seen Titanic. That distraction happens sometimes during watching a live screening because of some small mistakes in the orchestra and that did not happen at all during this film. There were a couple of times that I did look at the orchestra. The reason for this was when the soprano and choir started singing in their lovely voices and when the two violin players joined the Irish musicians for a very lively and energetic performance. I later learned that the final performance by the string ensemble in the film was done by musicians from the orchestra instead of being on the audio track as it had been done on all other occasions. I did not even notice the difference. To end this very sad film famous Polish singer Edyta Górniak walked on stage to sing a very solid “My Heart Will Go On”.

Ludwig Wicki conducting Titanic
Ludwig Wicki conducting Titanic.

I promised a roommate twenty years ago that I would never see Titanic. But for this movie screening with this orchestra and conductor, I gladly broke that promise.

Where and when: Krakow, Poland – May 21st, 2017 during the Film Music Festival
Orchestra: Sinfonietta Cracovia conducted by Ludwig Wicki
Choir: Boys’ Choir of the Krakow Philharmonic Orchestra
Soprano: Karolina Gorgol-Zaborniak
Singer: Edyta Górniak

One comment

  1. Glad you had a good reason to break the promise! It was definitely worth it.
    Klaus Doldinger was so clearly enjoying himself and was so pleased with the result – it made the concert even better.

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