This interview with silent film accompanist and jazz piano master Ekkehard Wölk was originally published on Film International. The Farsi version appeared on Film Monthly and the online publication, on Silent Era where it is has been accessible for the last 4 years.
Ekkehard Wölk is a German pianist, arranger, composer, and accompanist for silent films. His style consists of a personal interpretation of classical music from a jazz improviser's view. He has composed music scores for several German silent films, two of which, Secrets of a Soul (G.W. Pabst, 1926) and The Finances of the Grand Duke (F. W. Murnau, 1924), are currently available on DVD (released by Kino International).
Wölk was born on 14 June 1967 in Schleswig, Germany, and began his piano training at the age of seven in the classical tradition of Leschetitzky and his famous adepts Artur Schnabel and Edwin Fischer. After graduating from high school, in 1987, he studied historical and systematic musicology at the University of Hamburg and continued his scholarship at the Humboldt University in Berlin.
From 1988 Wölk studied classical piano at the conservatories in Hamburg and Lubeck, graduating in 1994 as a concert pianist and music pedagogue. Ekkehard wrote his first jazz compositions at the age of twenty-two, and at first, his primary jazz influence was Bill Evans, but he later also studied Bud Powell, McCoy Tyner, Thelonious Monk, Ahmad Jamal, Art Tatum, and specifically Fred Hersch who, many years later, became his master teacher in New York City.
In 1995, Wölk moved to Berlin and worked as a composer and bandleader, developing creative projects mostly in the jazz field. He has worked as a jazz and classical teacher, as an arranger, and as a flexible accompanist for many jazz singers, as well as in the classical and musical show genres. He has also worked in theatre as an accompanist, notably, for the Brecht Theatre Berliner Ensemble.