Looking for something a little different to listen to? Or maybe the rock, hip hop, or electronic bands previously featured just are not to your taste. Well, how about something a bit more classic? Not classical, per se. What about some music from the Roaring 1920s and 1930s with a modern twist? Think of it now. Carefully fixed hair, bow ties expertly tied, and pocket squares standing at attention as they peek out from pockets. If your curiosity has been piqued then please allow me to introduce to you Max Raabe and Palast Orchester.
Get to Know Max Raabe and Palast Orchester
Palast Orchester was formed in 1986 by a group of then-students including band leader Max Raabe. The group showed an impressive dedication since the very beginning. They spent an entire year learning popular songs from the Weimar period that Raabe found at local flea markets. The group’s debut performance was in 1987 when they played at the Berlin Theaterball. Although they were not the headlining act, their performance was wildly popular.
In addition to Raabe, the Palast Orchester’s current line-up includes Cecilia Crisafulli (violin), Sven Bährens (alto sax, clarinet, bass clarinet), Bernd Dieterich (double bass, sousaphone), Fabio Duwentester (percussion), Michael Enders (trumpet), Johannes Ernst (alto sax, clarinet), Rainer Fox (baritone sax, bass sax, clarinet), Bernd Frank (tenor sax, clarinet), Ulrich Hoffmeier (guitar, banjo, violin), Thomas Huder (trumpet), Jörn Ranke (trombone, viola), and Ian Wekwerth (piano). You do not have to be fluent in big band music to know just how much talent Palast Orchester possess!
The Music of Max Raabe and Palast Orchester
While the band continues to perform old classics, as of 1992 they also include original musical compositions in their repertoire. “Kein Schwein ruft mich an,” written by Raabe, was the orchestra’s first original hit.
The most recent release from Max Raabe and Palast Orchester is 2017’s Der perfekte Moment… wird heut verpennt. The record is the group’s 21st studio album. But perhaps their most well known records are 2011’s Küssen kann man nicht alleine and 2013’s Für Frauen ist das kein Problem. Needless to say, there is enough music from Max Raabe and Palast Orchester to keep practicing your German on the dancefloor for hours.
Recently, the orchestra has been busy, too. Their 2019 MTV Unplugged session is also a chart topper in Germany. The special session is available in audio as well as video and features some impressive guest appearances from the likes of actor turned singer Herbert Grönemeyer as well as actor and artist Lars Eidinger.
Giving a Classic Twist to the Modern Era
And while the entire orchestra may look like they just stepped out of a time machine from a century ago, there is a humorous wink and a nod to today. They also play big band twists of modern pop music. They have performed somewhat unlikely covers of Tom Jones’ “Sex Bomb” and Prince’s “Kiss.” The covers are novel and fun. I dare you not to crack a smile. You can also find Raabe making a guest appearance on Kraftklub frontman Felix Kummer’s 2019 debut solo album KIOX.
While much of Max Raabe and Palast Orchester’s music is largely in the German language, they have seen international success. They continue to tour around the world. You may notice that I said “largely.” The group has recorded and released English language music in addition to that in their native German tongue.
Looking for another Ohrwurm to help you learn German? Check out previously featured musicians and bands!
Photo courtesy of Hoanzl. This post contains affiliate links.