Exploring Latin American Culture Through the Eyes of Hans Helfritz

Hans Helfritz – From Germany To The World
Hans Helfritz was born in Chemnitz, Germany, in a banking family and had a passion for music since his young age. After saving enough money, he went to study double bass and composition at Berlin School of Music in 1926. He later learnt musicology and started out on his first adventure to the Middle East in 1930.

His stay in the Orient bought him fame and he published a book and two documentaries about his four-year experience. Subsequently, he visited India, Malaysia, China, Singapore and Latin America where he spent most of his life.

In Chile, he recorded thousands of landscapes and intimately portrayed people in their day-to-day lives. He also visited Easter Island and Tierra del Fuego and warned about the extinction of indigenous groups such as the Alacalufes and the Yaganes. He also published a book called “Chile, blessed country” which described about the peasant customs and folk music of the country.

Hans Helfritz’s work, comprising of 80,000 objects including logbooks, letters, music records, books, films and memorabilia, is stored in the Rautenstrauch-Joest Museum in Cologne, Germany. They are available for people to access, either to view or to conduct research; some of his work was also exhibited at Easter Island itself.

He believed that one should remain curious till the end of their lives. After two decades in Chile, high inflation and political instability drove him away from the country, and he moved to Ibiza. And that marks the end of an incredible journey of a lifetime.

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