Originally published in German in 1976, this is the first study of Hanns Eisler to appear in English. Eisler's role in German music is similar to that of Brecht in German literature and the two men worked together for nearly thirty years. Together with Webern and Berg, Eisler is considered one of the three great pupils of Schoenberg. Albrecht Betz divides Eisler's life and music into four periods. The early formative period as student of Schoenberg includes compositions written in Vienna up to 1925. From 1926 to 1933, the second period, which coincided with the last years of the Weimar Republic, Eisler lived in Berlin and made his greatest impact with his political vocal music. The third phase of Eisler's life, fifteen years of exile, was spent principally in the USA, and the fourth (from 1948) in East Germany. The author shows how Eisler is distinguished from other great twentieth-century composers in his belief that music had a social function, and how he liberated modern music from what he and others felt was its isolation - an isolation caused by the separation of musical technique from social content.
In particular, the 1920s were an important period in the development of the composer, who, along with his friends Brecht, Piscator and Grosz, launched a new political art. The social changes caused by World War I and the October Revolution, Schoenberg's revolutionary atonality and dodecaphony, and the impact of new mass media - radio, phonograph and sound films - all contributed to this development. This new English edition is illustrated with music examples and includes a complete list of works, and a bibliography which has been adapted for the English-speaking reader.
'This first comprehensive monograph on Eisler describes the man and the composer with, as yet, unequalled precision and wealth of detail. The author's aim is to portray the conflicts and development of the last 50 years as focussed upon the historical personality of Harms Eisler. Special attention should be called not only to the amount of new information the book contains, but also to the author's concise style.' Radio Bremen