Oral History

Joachim Ernst Berendt

It all started with Joachim Ernst Berendt - at least if you look at the history of the Jazzinstitut. His collection, which he sold to the city of Darmstadt in 1983, was the cornerstone - meanwhile grown many times over - of what constitutes the archive of the Jazzinstitut. When I began work as the founding director of the Jazzinstitut in September 1990, I naturally quickly came into contact with Berendt. We saw each other regularly, about three or four times a year, mostly at his house in Varnhalt near Baden-Baden, where I picked up boxes of material that he passed on to the Jazzinstitut in accordance with his contract with the city; CDs, books, other things that he had received on jazz but that no longer aroused his interest.

Following the example of the Institute of Jazz Studies, we began as early as 1991 with interviews documenting eye-witnesses of German jazz history, a kind of oral history project, that we recorded on tape, and in some cases even on video. It didn't turn out to be a very large collection of interviews - the daily workload of the Institute developed too much in other directions. But the interview with Joachim Ernst Berendt, which lasted several hours, is one that was particularly important to me because it was more than just his story: it also told the story of the material we were now managing. As always in such personal memoirs, Berendt's account is a purely subjective one. He deliberately omitted certain topics; about others he had his own unique perspective. I was (and am) not an investigative journalist; my job was to get him to talk. And when I recently - somewhat while cleaning out the shelves at the end of my term - stumbled across the conversation with him again, I did find it remarkable. So here is the story of Joachim Ernst Berendt, in his own words.... (in German)

(Wolfram Knauer, Oktober 2023)

To read the PDF file, just click on the image

(Bild oben: Joachim Ernst Berendt beim 4. Darmstädter Jazzforum 1995. Foto: Matthias Creutziger)