Wellington actor, director and writer, Danny Mulheron releases a film about the life and music of his grandfather "The Third Richard"
The Third Richard is a documentary feature film on the life and music of a lost composer, Richard Fuchs. Danny Mulheron says the rediscovery of his grandfather's life only began two years ago when a music historian knocked on his door and asked to see some large cartons of manuscripts stored in his attic.
"Since then the story has just got bigger and bigger. A concert was held in Germany last year devoted to my grandfather’s chamber music, the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra played a symphonic movement in May this year and in August the Governor General opened the Richard Fuchs Archive at Government House. The level of interest, both national and international has been quite overwhelming"
Last year Danny took his eighty year old mother, Soni back to Germany to attend the concert. "Mum was hearing her father's music performed for the first time. Most of this music had never been played or heard before …in fact not even heard by the composer!"
Richard Fuchs became a New Zealand composer in March 1939, the day he sailed into Wellington harbour on a crisp autumn morning. There was snow on the Tararuas and 'strange little wooden houses sprinkled across the hills'. Although he felt he was arriving in 'Lilliput', he was grateful to be as far away from Hitler’s Germany as he could get. As a Jew his music had been banned by the Nazis but in New Zealand he was soon to be rejected because he was a German.
Six months after his arrival the world was at war and Richard Fuchs was an enemy alien in his new country. He was prevented from working as an architect and was not allowed to travel more than a few miles from his house.
"It was a cruel irony to be confined in Dachau for being a Jew and then confined in Karori for being a German."
But inspired by the New Zealand landscape he painted and composed prolifically. Danny Mulheron says his grandfather’s Late Romantic music was the absolute expression of the New Zealand landscape.
"There's grandeur, rawness and drama - it's real movie soundtrack music. It has been a great way to make the documentary because his music tells the story of his life. A picture may be worth a thousand words but a soundtrack tells it all."