Theo Mackeben

Theo Mackeben, born 5 January 1897 in Preußisch Stargard, Westpreußen, died 10 January 1953 in Berlin, was a German pianist, conductor and composer, particularly of film music.[1]

Relief from Mackeben's tombstone

Life and careerEdit

From 1916 to 1920 Mackeben studied violin and piano at the Hochschule für Musik Köln, as well as taking lessons from Jules de Westheim.[1] He then became active as a café and radio pianist during the 1920s, at the Café Größenwahn and the Hotel Esplanade in Berlin.[1]

In 1928 at the Theater am Schiffbauerdamm he conducted the first performance of Dreigroschenoper.[1] Mackeben arranged the music from Millöckers operetta Gräfin Dubarry, for a 1931 production entitled Die Dubarry including an original song Ich schenk mein Herz nur dir allein.[2]

In the 1930s he composed music for stage plays and over 50 films, including some directed by Max Ophüls, Gustaf Gründgens and Willy Forst. After the war he wrote a piano concerto and a Sinfonische Ballade for cello and orchestra, while also being conductor at the Metropol-Theater.[1]


As conductor, Mackeben's recordings from the late 1920s through the 1930s include extracts from Dreigroschenoper and Die Dubarry, Scassola's Laendische Suite, Mendelssohn's 'Spring Song', and fantasies from Smetana's Bartered Bride, Zeller's Der Vogelhändler, Verdi's La traviata, Weill's Mahagonny and Suppé's Die schöne Galathee, on labels such as Telefunken and Berlin.[3]

A selection of Mackeben's music was recorded by the WDR Symphony Orchestra Cologne conducted by Emmerich Smola and published in 1995 by Capriccio.[4]



  • 1931: Die Dubarry
  • 1932: Die Journalisten
  • 1934: Lady Fanny and The Servant Problem
  • 1934: Liebe auf Reisen
  • 1938: Anita und der Teufel
  • 1943: Der goldene Käfig
  • 1950: Die Versuchung der Antonia

Film scoresEdit


  1. ^ a b c d e Lamb A. Theo Mackeben. In: The New Grove Dictionary of Music, 2nd Edition, Volume 15. Macmillan, London and New York, 2001.
  2. ^ Gänzl K. The Encyclopedia of the Musical Theatre. Blackwell, Oxford, 1994.
  3. ^ CHARM Accessed 15 May 2011
  4. ^ The Original Motion Picture Scores – Theo Mackeben. WDR CD 10 705.

External linksEdit