Max Raabe & Palast Orchester

To the rhythm of the roaring ’20s

by Marianina Patsa

As Max Raabe grew up in the ’60s and ’70s listening to his parents’ record player, no one could have imagined that this stimulus would lead him to create a very successful jazz band in the future, which would tour the world, teleporting audiences through the decades of the 1920s and 1930s. Max Raabe is best known as the founder and leader of the Palast Orchester. Born in Germany in 1962, he studied music at the Berlin University of the Arts, initially intending to become an opera singer. During his studies, together with eleven other classmates, they formed the Palast Orchester. The ensemble used scores of old pieces, which Raabe dug up after hours of rummaging through various flea markets. Prior to its maiden performance, the orchestra rehearsed for an entire year, with no public engagements or performances. When the orchestra finally performed in public for the first time at the Berliner Theater ball in 1987, it played in the lobby as a supporting act. But such was the success that the audience left the main hall to hear her performance. Raabe and the Palast Orchester had a big hit with his 1992 original ‘Kein Schwein Ruft Mich An, a 1920s-style pop song. Although a fan of vintage music, Raabe also loves modern music, but with a twist. He and the orchestra have covered contemporary pop songs in the 1920s-1930s style, including songs by Britney Spears and Tom Jones. At the same time, Raabe writes music for films, while also appearing in films by German directors. His live theater appearances include his role as Mack the Knife in Pentara Opera alongside the legendary Nina Hagen. Raabe spread his wings to the USA in 2004. In 2005 he performed his first concert at New York’s Carnegie Hall and returned there with the Palast Orchester again in 2007. In 2011 he released the album ‘Küssen Kann Man Nicht Alleine’ (Not you can kiss alone), along with musician/producer Annette Humpe, who wrote the lyrics. Two years later they released together the album “Für Frauen ist das kein Problem” (This is not a problem for women). In the fall of 2019, together with the Palast Orchester, Raabe became part of the famous MTV acoustic sessions, with the album “MTV Unplugged”. In 2022 he burst onto our screens through the German neo-noir series “Babylon Berlin”, with the track “Ein tag wie gold”. And it goes on and on.


Photo courtesy of Universal Music

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