Schnukenack Reinhardt: The ballad of Schnuckenack Reinhardt

The film “Die Ballade von Schnuckenack Reinhardt (“The ballad of Schnuckenack Reinhardt”) documents the love story of the internationally renowned musical multi-talent and jazz violinist Schnuckenack Reinhardt. He was born and grew up in Mainz as the child of a Sinti family of musicians where he learned to play the violin at the age of three. From the age of twelve, he appeared in concerts with the band of this father. He received his musical education at the Conservatory of Mainz. In the course of the racist policy of persecution of the Sinti and Roma in the National Socialist era, the Reinhardt family was arrested in 1938 and deported to Poland shortly thereafter. There, the Reinhardts eked out a living by disguising themselves as German-Hungarian musicians, always evading discovery. Five times Schnuckenack Reinhardt was nearly shot by the SS. He tells about his fear that was omnipresent throughout those years, from the youngest brother who was murdered in Auschwitz, and from the prayers of his mother to the Black Madonna of Tschenstochau. Before her image he played an Ave Maria to thank her.

Music, he said, saved his life. The violin was his weapon with which he “played himself free”. The film accompanies Schnuckenack Reinhardt on a journey with his sons to places that marked him and his music for life. By taking his sons to the places of persecution in Germany and Poland and to the places where he pursued his musical career after 1945 he wants to pass on the family’s history to them. The last stop on this itinerary was Samois-sur-Seine, near Paris, the burial place of his great example and relative, the Jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt. Schnuckenack Reinhardt impresses not only by the wide spectrum of his musical skills. He narrates with wit and wisdom, with pain and yet with unbroken joie de vivre. The authenticity of his personality makes the film a unique eyewitness account of the history and culture of German Sinti in the 20th century, of which still far too little is known.

For more Schnuckenack Reinhardt see CDs: Musik Deutscher Zigeuner – Entire 8 Disc Set

The video archive is dedicated to Mary Honcoop. She generously shared her large collection of Gypsy videos with nearly anyone who asked. The video archive aims to continue her generosity now that she is gone.

The Video Archive is devoted surviving video of Django Reinhardt and other masters of the Gypsy jazz genre. If you enjoy these videos consider making a donation.

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