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ECHO Rising Stars: Nosferatu with Sebastian Heindl

Still from 1922 silent film Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horror, showing Nosferatu with his long, claw-like fingers and pointed ears, standing on a ship wearing a long black coat

© Eureka Entertainment

German organist Sebastian Heindl creates an improvised soundtrack to 1922 silent horror film, Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horror.

A German expressionist classic, F W Murnau’s Nosferatu is the earliest surviving adaptation of Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Despite attempts to have it destroyed due to copyright infringement, the film became a landmark of the genre and one that ‘helped invent a whole vocabulary of thriller storytelling’ (Guardian).

If the ghastly Count and his creeping shadow weren’t enough to make your spine tingle, Heindl dials up the suspense with an entirely original, improvised soundtrack for organ – an instrument that is itself a gothic trope, from Bach’s thundering Toccata and Fugue in D minor in The Phantom of the Opera to the tormented tunes played by Davy Jones in Pirates of the Caribbean. And who better to lead us into the darkness than an ECHO Rising Star with the power to ‘lift his audience up to Heaven or plunge them into misery’ (Die Zeit)?

Sebastian Heindl

'Sebastian Heindl does not just play the organ. He can lift his audience up to Heaven or plunge them into misery a miracle musician from Leipzig' (Die Zeit)

Over the past years he attracted international attention by earning a number of prizes in organ competitions all around the globe. In 2019 he won the Longwood Gardens Organ Competition (USA), which is considered to be one of the most prestigious organ competitions worldwide.

He received his fundamental musical education as a chorister in St Thomas Boys Choir Leipzig, where he developed a deep connection to the music of Johann Sebastian Bach. After that Heindl continued his studies at Leipzig conservatory with Prof Martin Schmeding.

Thanks to his virtuoso interpretations and his adventurous charisma he became a celebrated organ performer on leading concert stages such as the Philharmonie Berlin, Philharmonie Essen, Bamberg Symphony, Konzerthaus Berlin, Konzerthaus Wien. He had his debut at the Gewandhaus Leipzig with Francis Poulenc‘s Concerto for organ and orchestra. Concert tours led him to France, Switzerland, Austria, Hungary, UK, Ireland, Russia, USA, Canada. His debut CD recorded at age 17 was lauded enthusiastically by the press. He was featured in music film productions by the Bachfest Leipzig, the BBC documentary Bach – A passionate life by Sir John Eliot Gardiner and in a much appreciated concert film production with the Berlin Phil Brass Ensemble for the Digital Concert Hall.

Sebastian Heindl also appears as an improviser and composer. His highly individual own musical language consists of elements of modern Jazz music and classical formal structures.

In 2022 he was appointed the head of church music at the Kaiser-Wilhelm-Memorial-Church Berlin a church that represents like no other one the turbulent history of Germany in the last two centuries.

Thanks to his lively activity on social media and the internet, especially YouTube, Heindl encouraged thousands of people to fall in love with organ music.