Herbert Windt’s Original Compositions

Though they do not make up all of the film’s score, Windt’s original compositions play an important role in the film. Beginning with the film’s opening credits, describing the context of the rally, we hear Windt’s original music when we look out the window of the airplane carrying Hitler to Nuremberg in Scene 1. As the plane travels toward Nuremberg, the camera gazes into the clouds and viewers are left with a heaven-like impression. Windt reinforces these feelings with music that is both ethereal and reverential. In his Filmguide to Triumph of the Will, Richard Meran Barsam writes that “the world of the Nazi leaders seems like Valhalla, a place apart . . . peopled by heroes.” The film makes it seem as if Hitler and his entourage are descending from their heroic world into the world of ordinary German citizens.

In Scene 4, Windt relies on his original composition to evoke a somber atmosphere during one of the only melancholic moments in the film. In the scene, Hitler, Heinrich Himmler, and Viktor Lutze slowly walk up to and take a moment to stand in front of a giant, ceremonial wreath laid to remember the German soldiers who lost their lives during the first world war. Thousands of troops are gathered for the solemn ceremony, and all are perfectly silent and still as their three leaders observe their moment of silent reflection. Here, Windt’s original music is reminiscent of a funeral hymn. The music is both slow and soft, and though the music is performed by an orchestra, the sound produced by the ensemble sounds like a pipe organ. Each note is sustained for a considerable length of time and the notes overlap one another, adding a lethargic quality to the music.

While the music of the passage is extremely solemn, it does not evoke a strong emotional response. On the contrary, the music reflects the stoic facade of the occasion, with the soldiers standing at attention as their leaders quietly pay their respects to the dead. The ceremony is poignant, yet it still reflects the strict discipline descendant of the Prussian military tradition. The recurring image of discipline that runs throughout the film is best exemplified in this scene. We cannot guess as to whether or not Riefenstahl or Windt admired this discipline, but the music implicitly advances this theme to the audience.