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Working for Paul Rotha, zoo photos and meeting my wife


Moving to Holland and working as a photographer
Wolfgang Suschitzky Film-maker
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I wasn’t able to stay here with my... Dutch friend, but we married here in Hampstead, and then went to Holland because I could stay with a Dutch citizen... married to a Dutch citizen. After a year in Holland, my wife left me, which was great luck because had I stayed there, I wouldn’t be alive anymore, I'm sure. So, I got... got myself a job in... in Holland photographing postcards for newsagents. I had to... I was sent to... all over the country, made contact with the local newsagent, and found out what views they would like photographed. I had a wooden camera given to me by the company who made... printed these postcards, but after a few months, in the winter there wasn’t anything to do for me, and I tried again to come to England, succeeded to get in as a student in 1935. Here my sister could help me, put me up in the beginning, in her house. I started to photograph children and took portraits and sometimes helped my sister when she had a larger job given to her, like the new bui... new block of flats in Kensal Rise, which was built for the Gas and Light Company. For the opening we made a brochure with photographs of the very modern building, or there was a hospitals, South London Hospital for Women, who wanted a brochure, and I helped her with that. But in 1937, I had the great luck to get an introduction to a documentary film maker called Basil Wright who had a look at photographs I had taken and liked them but he said ‘I have a very small company, only three people; I haven’t got any work for you, why don’t you go across the road to Paul Rotha’, who was a producer at a company called Strand Films, in those days. There was most of the British documentary movement of the ‘30s.

Born in Austria, Wolfgang Suschitzky (1912-2016) trained as a photographer and became one of the first in his field to take portraits of animals. After coming to England he worked with Paul Rotha as the cameraman on various documentaries and films such as “No Resting Place”, “Ulysses” and “Get Carter”.

Listeners: Misha Donat

Misha Donat is the son of Wolfgang Suschitzky. He has composed music for the theatre and the cinema (including films directed by Lindsay Anderson, and by Albert Finney). For more than 25 years he was a senior music producer for BBC Radio 3, where he planned and produced the prestigious lunchtime concerts at St John’s, Smith Square, at which many of the world’s leading artists appeared on a regular basis, and also instigated a Young Artists’ Forum as a showcase for musicians of the coming generation. As a broadcaster himself, he has given many radio talks. Misha Donat has contributed a large number of programme notes to the Wigmore Hall, Carnegie Hall, South Bank, Aldeburgh Festival, Edinburgh Festival, Brighton Festival and other venues, and he has written CD booklets for such labels as Decca, DG, RCA, Philips and Hyperion. He has been a regular contributor to BBC Music Magazine since its inception more than 10 years ago, and has written articles for The London Review of Books, The Guardian, The Musical Times, The Listener, Opera, and other publications. He has taught at the University of California in Los Angeles, and has given lectures and seminars at Vassar College and Bard College in New York State, Johns Hopkins University (Baltimore), and in the UK at Durham University, the Barbican Centre, the Royal Festival Hall, and the Norwich Music festival. He is currently working as a producer for the Philharmonia Orchestra.

Tags: Hampstead, Holland, England, Gas and Light Company, Kensal Rise, South London Hospital for Women and Children, Basil Wright, Paul Rotha

Duration: 3 minutes, 19 seconds

Date story recorded: March 2008

Date story went live: 06 August 2009