Steyer, Christian


Christian Steyer has acted in over fifty films since the early 1970s, when he met with immediate success and became one of East Germany’s heartthrobs on the silver screen. Director Lothar Warneke cast him in his first role in Es ist eine alte Geschichte while he was still studying at the Academy for Performing Arts in Berlin-Schöneweide.


In rapid succession, Steyer then appeared as the unfaithful lover in the GDR classic, Die Legende von Paul und Paula (dir. Heiner Carow), as the romantic figure who goes to see the world in Für die Liebe noch zu mager (dir. Bernhard Stephan), and as the trumpet player Lene in Die Taube auf dem Dach (dir. Iris Gusner). Recently he also appeared in Tom Tykwer’s love story Drei, which premiered at the 2010 Venice Film Festival.


Despite his success as a movie actor, Steyer's first love was music. Raised in a musical family, as a child he aspired to "become Mozart": at the age of 10 he was playing the organ for Sunday services in his father's church, and at 13 he was accepted into the advanced children's class at the Academy of Music in Leipzig.


During high school, he also got interested in composition, improvisation and theater. Performing chansons and gospel songs, he met and then studied with the French chansonnière Fania Fénélon—a former member of the women's orchestra at Auschwitz—who lived in the GDR. In the mid-1960s, he studied piano at the Music Academies in Leipzig and then Dresden.

Steyer's professional career as a musician and composer began in the 1970s. He was one of the founding members of the East German rock band Karat and played the piano for the famous popular singer, Frank Schöbel. His unusual compositions, sometimes using homemade instruments, were used in many films; he also wrote full scores for twelve East German DEFA productions, some of them in close collaboration with director Helmut Dziuba.


Since 1993, Christian Steyer has been teaching at the Academy of Music in Berlin. His choir music composition, presented at the "Urban Plant" pavilion at the Shanghai World Expo 2010, has brought him international attention.  


[See also:]

Festivals & Awards:

1967 Radio GDR Special Prize, second GDR Chanson and Song Festival

Bibliography & More:

Interview: The Multi-Talented Christian Steyer. Amherst, MA: DEFA Film Library Newsletter, Nov. 2010.


Steyer, Christian. Am Anfang war der Baum – Legenden aus Amazonien. Leipzig: Buchfunk-Verlag, 2011. (Audio Book)


Steyer, Christian. Vom kleinen Storch der Vater. Leipzig: Faber & Faber, 2007




(A = Actor   |   C = Composer)


2013 Im Alleingang – Elemente des Zweifels (Going Solo: Elements of Doubt, TV, A)
2013 Die kleine Meerjungfrau (The Little Mermaid, TV, A)
2012 Die Abenteuer des Huck Finn (The Adventures of Huck Finn, A)
2010 Drei (Three, A, C)
2007 Hände weg von Mississippi (Hands off Mississippi, A)
2005 Playa del futuro (C​)
2004 Die Blindgänger (The Blind Flyers, C)
1998 Zugvögel (Train Birds, C)
1997 Das Leben ist eine Baustelle (Life Is All You Get, C)
1999 Drei Gauner, ein Baby und die Liebe (Three Crooks, a Baby and Love, TV, A)
1994-95 Unser Lehrer Doktor Specht (Our Teacher Dr. Specht, TV series, A)
1992 Kinderspiele (Children’s Games, C)
1991 Jana und Jan (Jana and Jan, C)
1989 Der Magdalenenbaum (The Tree of Magdalena, A)
1989 Verbotene Liebe (Forbidden Love, C)
1988 Die Schauspielerin (The Actress, A)
1986 Fahrschule (Driving School, C)
1985 Jan auf der Zille (Jan on the Barge, C)
1985 Lied für Anne (Song for Anne, short film, C)
1983 Die vertauschte Königin (The Swapped Queen, C, A)
1983 Erscheinen Pflicht (Your Presence is Imperative, C)
1982 Taubenjule (Pigeon Jule, C)
1982 Sabine Kleist, 7 Jahre (Sabine Kleist, Age 7, C)
1981 Bürgschaft für ein Jahr (On Probation, A)
1980 Unser kurzes Leben (Our Short Life, A)
1980 Der Spiegel des großen Magus (Great Magusʼs Mirror, C)
1980 Als Unku Edes Freundin war (When Unku Was Ede’s Friend, C)
1978 Leise flehen meine Lieder (My Songs Quietly Implore You, TV, A)
1977 Rotschlipse (Red Ties, C)
1974 Der Untergang der Emma (The Sinking of Ship Emma, C)
1973/2010 Die Taube auf dem Dach (The Dove on the Roof, A)
1973 Für die Liebe noch zu mager? (Too Young for Love?, A)
1972 Die Legende von Paul und Paula (The Legend of Paul and Paula, A)
1972 Es ist eine alte Geschichte (It's an Old Story, A)

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