Episode 100: The Enduring Allure of Weimar Music and Culture
Senior Fellow; Director, Society, Culture & Politics Program
Dr. Eric Langenbacher is a Senior Fellow and Director of the Society, Culture & Politics Program at AICGS.
Dr. Langenbacher studied in Canada before completing his PhD in Georgetown University’s Government Department in 2002. His research interests include collective memory, political culture, and electoral politics in Germany and Europe. Recent publications include the edited volumes Twilight of the Merkel Era: Power and Politics in Germany after the 2017 Bundestag Election (2019), The Merkel Republic: The 2013 Bundestag Election and its Consequences (2015), Dynamics of Memory and Identity in Contemporary Europe (co-edited with Ruth Wittlinger and Bill Niven, 2013), Power and the Past: Collective Memory and International Relations (co-edited with Yossi Shain, 2010), and From the Bonn to the Berlin Republic: Germany at the Twentieth Anniversary of Unification (co-edited with Jeffrey J. Anderson, 2010). With David Conradt, he is also the author of The German Polity, 10th and 11th edition (2013, 2017).
Dr. Langenbacher remains affiliated with Georgetown University as Teaching Professor and Director of the Honors Program in the Department of Government. He has also taught at George Washington University, Washington College, The University of Navarre, and the Universidad Nacional de General San Martin in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and has given talks across the world. He was selected Faculty Member of the Year by the School of Foreign Service in 2009 and was awarded a Fulbright grant in 1999-2000 and the Hopper Memorial Fellowship at Georgetown in 2000-2001. Since 2005, he has also been Managing Editor of German Politics and Society, which is housed in Georgetown’s BMW Center for German and European Studies. Dr. Langenbacher has also planned and run dozens of short programs for groups from abroad, as well as for the U.S. Departments of State and Defense on a variety of topics pertaining to American and comparative politics, business, culture, and public policy.
President of AGI
Jeffrey Rathke is the President of the American Institute for Contemporary German Studies at the Johns Hopkins University in Washington, DC.
Prior to joining AICGS, Jeff was a senior fellow and deputy director of the Europe Program at CSIS, where his work focused on transatlantic relations and U.S. security and defense policy. Jeff joined CSIS in 2015 from the State Department, after a 24-year career as a Foreign Service Officer, dedicated primarily to U.S. relations with Europe. He was director of the State Department Press Office from 2014 to 2015, briefing the State Department press corps and managing the Department's engagement with U.S. print and electronic media. Jeff led the political section of the U.S. Embassy in Kuala Lumpur from 2011 to 2014. Prior to that, he was deputy chief of staff to the NATO Secretary General in Brussels. He also served in Berlin as minister-counselor for political affairs (2006–2009), his second tour of duty in Germany. His Washington assignments have included deputy director of the Office of European Security and Political Affairs and duty officer in the White House Situation Room and State Department Operations Center.
Mr. Rathke was a Weinberg Fellow at Princeton University (2003–2004), winning the Master’s in Public Policy Prize. He also served at U.S. Embassies in Dublin, Moscow, and Riga, which he helped open after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Mr. Rathke has been awarded national honors by Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, as well as several State Department awards. He holds an M.P.P. degree from Princeton University and B.A. and B.S. degrees from Cornell University. He speaks German, Russian, and Latvian.
Max Raabe & Palast Orchester
The Palast Orchester was founded in 1986 by Max Raabe and a group of fellow music students yearning to play music from the period of Germany's Golden Twenties. Over the years they have advanced to the number one band for music of the 20s/30s. In addition to their regular tours through German-speaking countries they often perform in the United States where the list of venues includes Chicago Symphony Hall, Davies Hall in San Francisco, and New York's Carnegie Hall.
In 1992 Max Raabe & Palast Orchester entered the German charts for the first time with their song “Kein Schwein ruft mich an” (“Not a Pig Calls Me”), written by Max Raabe. Teaming up with film director Sönke Wortmann two years later for the film “Der bewegte Mann” (The Most Desired Man) made them known to a wider audience.
Max Raabe & Palast Orchester received an ECHO award for their CD “Charming Weill” and also scored well in international charts with two albums on which they interpreted modern pop songs like “Sex Bomb,” “Kiss,” or “Super Trouper” in the style of the 20s.
Since 2010 Max Raabe & Palast Orchester have been influencing the German pop scene with "Raabe Pop" - songs written by Max Raabe in collaboration with top German songwriters. For their live concerts, Max Raabe & Palast Orchester weave these together with original numbers from the 20s/30s into an entertaining show that is selling out venues all over Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. The same concept turned their MTV Unplugged production from 2019 into a number one album.
In 2023 Max Raabe & Palast Orchester crowned their career with superlatives. With "Ein Tag wie Gold“ (A Day Like Gold) Max Raabe wrote a hit for the TV series Babylon Berlin in which he and the orchestra also feature. This and two new albums, one of "Raabe-Pop" and another with original songs of the 20s/30s, have lead them to selling out concerts back-to-back.
Many songs have found their way into the "Dream A Little Dream" U.S. tour 2024, ready to capture listeners and let them dream away every-day worries.
Max Raabe & the Palast Orchester have been playing the music of and inspired by the 1920s and 30s for almost forty years, to enormous success in Germany and internationally. As the group prepares to kick off a U.S. tour in March, Max Raabe joins The Zeitgeist to discuss how the music of Weimar Germany resonates with audiences today, the stories behind the composers, and how the music connects to German history.
Jeff Rathke, President, AGI