I saw him first at a concert in Mexico, at the Goethe Institute of Morelia, Michoacan, playing the famously difficult Schumann C major Fantasie. He played the piece as if he owned it: leaving out what he didn’t remember, and adding whatever he felt was exciting. This was Gerhart Muench, the genius? Was he ill? Was he drunk?
Muench had called me at our country home south of Munich, to offer himself as the central person for our documentary series “Wahlheimat: Germans in Other Countries". When we met in Mexico, he shook my hand and said in a hollow voice, “Call me Don Gerardo!” I started to worry.
Next morning, Eleonore and I drove up the Sierra Madre with our TV crew. As we ascended, I grew ever more worried. All around us, fir trees passed by, as if I were back home in the Alps. What good was it to be in another country, when the landscape was so awfully familiar?
Our destination was Tacambaro, at the end of the long, winding road. From the first sight of it, I knew that "Don Gerardo" couldn't possibly ruin this film. The title of the episode could only be the name of this unique town itself! Thanks to the Don's wife, Vera, who drank as much as the maestro himself, the unexpected moments multiplied, the visit becoming more and more interesting...
A film by Percy Adlon
Produced by Eleonore Adlon
TV Producer – Benigna von Keyserlingk
Director of Photography – Horst Lermer
Editor – Gitta Althof
1975, in German with English subtitles, 16mm, 43 minutes