Monday, December 29, 2008

Regarding Hanns Eisler

Leon Botstein, conductor of the American Symphony Orchestra and a first rate musical scholar (and president of Bard College) discusses East German music, politics and culture in a video, "Music of the Other Germany: Five Composers Writing Under the Banner of East Germany. One can learn of the ethos within which composers such as Hanns Eisler and Paul Dessau worked. You'll learn quite a lot from Botstein's rich discussion. I should add that Eisler had been in the US during W.W. II where he co-authored a famed book on music for film with the philosopher/musician Theodore Adorno. Eisler was brought before the House Committee on Un-American Activities in 1948 for his political beliefs, and received much support from his friends, including Leonard Bernstein, Aaron Copland and the playwright and film script writer Clifford Odets, but to no avail: he was deported from the US. Like his colleague Bertold Brecht, who left the US before he could be deported, Eisler decided to live in East Germany, and spent the remainder of his very productive life in that country. He died in 1962. Both he and Dessau composed music with texts by Brecht. Botstein and the American Symphony Orchestra will be concertizing at Lincoln Center on Sun. Jan. 25, 2009, at 3:00 pm, and will be devoting this summer's program at Bard to these composers.

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