Stanley Brinks – In Birkirkara – Recorded at Beelitz Heilstätten

Stanley Brinks performs his song In Birkirkara (with a little help from me) in Beelitz Heilstätten, an abandoned sanatorium outside Berlin.

Hidden romantically in the deutsche Wälder (woods) not far Potsdam, Beelitz Heilstätten
conjures up a uniquely German image, a Zauberberg (Magic Mountain*) without the Berg (mountain).  But beneath the decaying beauty, the history of Beelitz has been far from romantic.
In the late 19th Century tuberculosis was rife and in order to stop the spread of the disease, those inflected were encouraged to enter sanatoriums.  Beelitz was one of many sanatoriums built to deal with the numbers and the 140 hector wooded site was chosen for it’s clean air, which was considered essential for the treatment of tuberculosis.  Construction began in 1898 and the doors were opened to the first patients in 1902.

After the outbreak of World War I, the site was transformed into a military hospital, treating casualties from the trenches.  It was during this time that the hospital received it’s most famous patient, one Adolf Hitler, after a grenade exploded a little too far away from him during the Battle of the Somme.
In the interwar period Beelitz became a Sanatorium again before being transformed back into a military hospital during the next World War and then being taken over by the Soviets, who carried on using Beelitz as a military hospital until 1995 when they abandoned it.  A couple of the buildings remain still in use today, but the vast majority of the site lies in ruins, frequented by many photographers, film makers (including those that made the Pianist and Valkyrie) , urban explorers and Ramstein.
The Beelitz area is also famous for it’s asparagus and a serial killer.
We recorded this video in the large hall in the Männersanatorium (sanatorium for men).
If you can read German and want to learn more about Beelitz Heilstätten, this site is well worth visiting.  Even if you can’t, it has some nice pictures.  If not wikipedea or these nice blogs should suffice.

Stanley Brinks is a mysterious man/musician/singer who is now based in Berlin.  His website reads as follows “Stanley Brinks sets the bar high when it comes to artistic independence, freedom, tradition and avoiding fashionable trends. In 2006, André left his band, Herman Düne. Now based in Berlin he releases timeless albums, playing them live in small venues and private apartments where he can remain true to his musical ideals.”

*Zauberberg is a rather big novel written by Thomas Mann about a young German man who visits a sanatorium and, after a 1000 pages, leaves.                                                     ….but not before having been extensively lectured to by some weighty intellectuals.


Dario Chillemi – Bambino Scatenati – at Beelitz Heilstätten

Here is Italian guitar player Dario Chillemi and his 12 string guitar using the acoustics and atmosphere at Beelitz Heilstätten to great effect:

For a little more information on the abandoned sanatorium Beelitz you can visit this earlier post.

For more information on Dario you can visit his website.


Douglas MacGregor – Part One of Three – Gesellschaftshaus, at the Riviera Grünau

The Riviera Grünau consists of two once impressive buildings; the Ballhaus and the Gesellschaftshaus, which translates literally as ‘society house’.  Like the Ballhaus, the Gesellschaftshaus is falling to pieces and there are now few signs of it’s former gory apart from this rapidly decaying hall.  Throughout the building the floors are virtually non-existent, the decor is long gone and graffiti, including a worrying abundance of nazi graffiti, pervades the entirety.  The ceiling in the hall, once red, now looks close collapse.1910 As this postcard from 1910 shows, guests could sail down the Spree and arrive by boat.  While the Ballhaus can boast of a cultural significance during the 1920s as a concert venue, the Gesellschaftshaus seems more like a reminder of the opulence in days gone by.

As you will see in the video, in the hall itself there are now two large wall paintings on either side which add yet another layer to this space; an abandoned reminder of a bygone era still visited by both artists and neo-nazis alike and still an excellent space for a performance.

The piece played here is the first part of a group of three pieces.  The name of the piece reflects this.  It also reflects the fact that the themes of the piece are quite diverse and abstract.

For some nice photo’s of the buildings go here

For more music go here or here

Agustin Barrios – Vals No. 3 – recorded at Riviera Grünau, Berlin – Douglas MacGregor

The Ballhaus Riviera was built in 1895 and by the 1920’s was a hotspot during the cultural boom of the Weimar Republic.  For musicians of the time, this was one of ‘the places to play’.  After The Second World War the Ballhaus remained open, although it’s heyday had definitely past.  After the reunification of Germany the building fell into disuse and decay .
Augustin Barrios was a Paraguayan composer who lived from 1885 to 1944.  He is one of the finest guitar composers.Ballhaus Riviera

For more information on the Ballhaus Riviera these two blogs are great and contain many a nice picture: The Ost World (auf Deutsch) and Digital Cosmonaut