Unlike so many other composers, Paul Lincke (1866 – 1946) not only survived the Nazi regime but flourished: he was awarded the Silver Medal of Honour in 1937 and the freedom of the city of Berlin in 1941. Amidst the WWII Allied bombing Lincke left Germany for the Czech Republic in 1943. Lucky that he did as his house (and his music publishing business) were bombed. After the war ended Lincke strove to obtain the necessary approval of the Allies in order to return to his beloved Berlin. With the help of a sympathetic American General he moved first to Bavaria but, suffering worsening health, he moved again to Hahnenklee, where he died shortly before his 80th birthday.
Berliner Luft (Berlin Air) is a march from Lincke’s hugely successful operetta, Frau Luna (1899, revised 1922). The operetta tells the story of a Berliner’s hot-air balloon trip to the meet the Lady in the Moon. Berliner Luft has since become the unofficial anthem of the city, representing not just its fine air, but also its very spirit and vibrancy. It is always played at the conclusion of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra’s season closing, open-air concert at the Waldbühne. It also featured in the official ceremonies commemorating the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.