German conductor and composer Gert Wilden labored in semi-obscurity for most of his professional career. He provided themes and incidental music for literally dozens of European films and TV shows from the mid-'50s through the '80s, while never gaining the renown of contemporaries like Peter Thomas or Martin Boettcher. The tongue-in-cheek exotica revival of the mid-'90s, however, bought a new interest in previously unnoticed genres, and two CDs of Wilden's music, Schulmadchen Report and I Told You Not to Cry, were released to some acclaim in 1996 and 1997.
Gert Wilden was born in Maehrisch Trubau, Czechoslovakia, on April 15, 1917. A classically trained musician, the young Wilden studied composition and conducting under the great George Szell in Prague. After World War II, Wilden settled in Munich, Germany, and began writing music for radio serials. As television began to reach into postwar Europe, Wilden became an in-demand composer of theme songs and incidental music for the new medium. From 1961 to 1964, he conducted the Bavarian Television Orchestra. As a film composer, Wilden scored over 50 movies in about 25 years; on the side, he wrote and arranged songs (often under the pseudonyms Frank Colter and Jerry Wilden), and produced records for the likes of Hildegarde Neff and Elke Sommer.
The 1970 film Schulmadchen Report ("Schoolgirl Report") brought low-budget soft-core sex farces to German audiences, who voiced their approval to the extent that 12 official sequels and countless rip-offs and parodies flooded the cinemas over the next several years. All of the Schulmadchen Report films and many of the knock-offs featured Wilden scores; which blended the languorous sensuality of Nelson Riddle (think of his brilliant Lolita score) and the genial good humor of Henry Mancini, with such then-fashionable and now gloriously kitschy soundtrack tropes as electric pianos and wordless female vocals that tend toward kitten-in-heat moans. 19 of these themes were collected in 1996 by the German reissue label Crippled Dick Hot Wax under the title Schulmadchen Report; the compilation sold so well that a sequel, I Told You Not to Cry, focusing on his crime and action film scores of the late '60s, was released in 1997. ~ Stewart Mason