You will be the first to learn of my passing.

At the end of a long conversation with Sissy Engl, the partner of Peter Mühlen, she agreed to arrange an interview with him. This was to take place on August 1, 2012, at their shared house in Haar, near Munich.

Since Peter Mühlen had gone through a severe crisis the night before this meeting, he had asked Sissy Engl to answer my questions („Sissy knows so much about me that she could write a book about me!“). For this purpose, he had given her a photo album that she was supposed to go through with me. – Only as the conversation was drawing to a close after several hours, did Peter Mühlen enter the room with the words: „Ask any questions you like, and I will try to answer them.“

Since he could not speak due to a stoma, he wrote his answers on a piece of paper. Peter Mühlen handed me a few lines that indicated he wanted to end his life. He gave me his written biography and a list of his works. I was allowed to photograph his collection of photos. Peter Mühlen was a person who had meticulously documented all the events he faced throughout his life. The documents handed to me testify to his great need to record everything in order to preserve it from being forgotten as much as possible.

There are terms that are firmly linked with individuals in cultural memory and have received a new, or at least expanded, meaning through these individuals. In the 60s and 70s, the word ‚Plattenkiste‘ (record box) did not simply refer to a dusty box of vinyl products but was primarily associated with Peter Mühlen and his show ‚Peter Mühlens Plattenkiste‘. This show was broadcast weekly by Bayerischer Rundfunk from 1962 to 1966 and paved the way for many people into popular music and influenced their listening habits.

Peter Mühlen not only hosted shows; he also wrote scripts extensively for radio, television, and theater productions. With one of these scripts, he facilitated the rediscovery in Germany of the opera „Die tote Stadt“ by Erich Wolfgang Korngold, who was driven from Vienna to the USA by the Nazis. Peter Mühlen was very proud of this, as he was a big fan of the film music composer Korngold. This led to a long and deep friendship with Korngold’s son.

Music expert Peter Mühlen was also active outside of Bayerischer Rundfunk, for example as a disc jockey at the Sollner Alm. There, he welcomed everyone who was well-known in the show business of the old Federal Republic of Germany. Peter Mühlen was not only a host but also an actor, voice actor, director, playwright, composer, music critic, and showmaster. The multi-talented individual participated in more than 200 theater productions and also directed plays himself. Nevertheless, broadcasting never completely let him go: in 1984, Peter Mühlen was a co-founder and the leading music editor of the first private radio station in Bavaria, „Neue Welle Bayern – Antenne München,“ known today as „Radio Charivari.“

Together with his life partner Sissy Engl, Peter Mühlen founded the ‚Mandolin Motions Einstein Show Academy‘ in 1980, where he taught phonetics and acting for many years. Peter Mühlen composed, wrote, sang, and spoke — until a serious illness took his voice in March 2012. Therefore, Peter Mühlen answered my questions in writing. When I left, it had already become late. Peter Mühlen passed away on September 15, 2012; we never saw each other again. At his funeral, ‚Give Peace a Chance‘ by Paul McCartney was played — that was when I realized I had met a kindred spirit.

Please read the complete interview with Peter Mühlen here as an e-book.

Translation of the letter


Dear Mr. Vilsmeier,

Enclosed is a CV, already somewhat battered.

You will be the first to hear of my passing!

You are welcome to inform the press!

Sissy knows so much about me that she could write a book about me.

Photo material in the „record cabinet“

Mountains of it and the album to go with it.

Good luck,

I greet you as a stranger

Peter Mühlen

P.S. Forgive me if Vilsmaier is spelled differently (?)!