Wherever this singer appeared, he immediately overwhelmed everyone with his will to shape. His singing was artistically unobtrusive, bulky like a mixture of morality and chant. A breathtaking visionary overwhelming certainly – but for those who got involved, a trip to unknown regions of himself. After almost half a century, “Enter the cathedral” from 1972 still seems very present. If you will ever remember the Electra group, it is probably because of this ecstatic and disturbing voice.
Stephan Trepte, born in 1950 with Kamenz, joined Electra in 1972, at that time one of the most avant-garde bands in the GDR, of which it is not known whether it was named after the ancient Greek tragedy or the new electronic soundscapes. Both were in her music. Electra often took a provocative amount of time to develop the sound – like elsewhere Czeslaw Niemen or Jethro Tull. They worked on new soundscapes.
“Enter the cathedral” (composed by Bernd Aust) is undoubtedly more than just a musical manifesto. There are repeated requests that “once every crazy day” one should step through “the wonderful portal”. One dares to take the step towards the sublime, the sacral, which makes one step out differently than one entered; just like being a different person after reading a good poem than before. This magical realism makes past and future collide in the present moment. What a shock, what an earthquake! The invitation to enter is achieved by the “little man”, with his “dusty shoes”, who, however, begins to grow in this room, especially when he is ready to “rest for a few minutes.” Here by Kurt Demmler in the processing of a text by Alexander Block, he draws a picture of man that is neither new nor old, but with an overwhelming intensity of transformation.
This song, which furiously broke every musical and ideological framework, came to the radio immediately after it was created, was already in everyone’s ears and hearts – and then just as suddenly disappeared from the station again, but was played live in concerts, which further increased the nimbus . Someone in the country’s simple guardians of ideology had discovered unauthorized propaganda for the church when they were asked to “enter the cathedral.” You should enter state cultural centers or the SED, but not in a cathedral! This song was nothing more and nothing less than a hymn to the size of ordinary people. The message, the sacred space is not separate from you and your profane life. Take your piece of this wealth that belongs to you and grow on it! Sure, this borders on a secular sermon, but the GDR youth in the mid-1970s were as addicted to a sense of self-discovery as they were tired of the wrong “prefabricated products” (Volker Braun).
Stephan Trepte endured two years at Electra, then moved on to Lift, also a first-class music poetry laboratory, where he also only stayed for two years. It was not until 1980 that “Step into the Cathedral” was allowed to appear on Electra’s third record, when the Cherubian wanderer Trepte had already reached the Magdeburg group Reform, which he shaped with his song singing.
At the lift he sang “My heart should be water / Still water / That the smallest stone / waves make waves in it”. This – again based on a text by Demmler – was also his creed. Exposing the core of suffering to all pathos and yet giving it an expression that everyone can understand was the art that Trepte strove for. So also with “Soldier vom Don” at Reform – a deep soul drilling in the mine of history. It says there: “You were as young as we / You had learned / That work makes you less tired / When everyone is enjoying the fruits … / Your name is unknown to us / But the sun knows your trail.” One line has been made deeply imprinted on me: “Your children should live in houses / which are not coffins where you are buried.” One should not only read this, but also hear it from the mouth of this singer, who could drive his voice to the highest heights, but also there he encountered the fragments of world history that he made audible as a true chronicler of the times.
Now Stephan Trepte is this rough, tender obstetrician of another, yet to be determined, kind in the world, who made the tragedy audible in the love song and the love song in the tragedy, two days after his 70th birthday, on the 22nd July, suddenly died in Panketal near Berlin.