Hanns Eisler

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Eisler, Hanns


Born July 6, 1898, in Leipzig; died Sept. 6, 1962, in Berlin. German composer and public figure (German Democratic Republic [GDR]). Member of the Academy of Arts of the GDR.

Eisler studied composition in Vienna with A. Schönberg from 1919 to 1923 and took up residence in Berlin in 1924. Although his early works show the influence of his teacher, Eisler’s progressive views, his study of Marxism, and his increasing contacts with the revolutionary movement made his art more democratic. Eisler worked closely with E. Weinert, B. Brecht, and the singer E. Busch, who performed many of his songs for the masses, and he taught and addressed workers’ choral groups.

Eisler composed many workers’ songs, marches, and ballads on current political topics, such as “Song of Solidarity,” “Song of the Unemployed,” “Song of the United Front,” “Red Wedding,” and “The Comintern.” He was a founder of a new style of revolutionary song for the masses. In addition, he composed works in the larger forms, including Requiem for Lenin (1937) and music for theatrical productions, notably the music to Brecht’s The Measures Taken (1930).

In 1938, after the fascists had come to power, Eisler emigrated to the USA, where he worked in Hollywood. Accused of un-American activities, he left the USA in 1948 as a “voluntary deportee.” He settled in Berlin in 1948 and played an active role in developing the musical culture of the GDR. In 1950 he began teaching composition at the Academy of Arts of the GDR and music theory at the Hochschule für Musik, which is now named in his honor. He helped found the Union of Composers and Musicologists of the GDR.

Eisler’s most important works include the cantatas German Symphony (1937), Serenade of the Age (1950), and The Carpet-weavers of Kuyan-Bulak (1957) and the symphonic triptych Song of Peace (1951). In his finest works Eisler combines the characteristic features of mass and revolutionary songs with varied means of musical expression. He used polyphony, atonal music, jazz elements, and folk song effects. Rhythm is an important organizing principle in Eisler’s vocal music, in which extensive use is made of recitative. His symphonic music is notable for its complex and subtle orchestration.

Eisler composed the national anthem of the GDR (words by Brecht), and he was awarded the National Prize of the GDR in 1949 and 1958.


Druskin, M. Gans Eisler i rabochee muzykal’noe dvizhenie v Germanii. Moscow, 1934.
Rebling, E. “Gans Eisler.” Sovetskaia muzyka, 1957, no. 6.
Nest’ev, I. Gans Eisler i ego pesennoe tvorchestvo. Moscow, 1962.


References in periodicals archive ?
This was a task first sympathetically put into practice during the Weimar Republic by artists such as Bertold Brecht and Hans Eisler.
This new touring production gives another audience a chance to enjoy the best of Brecht's writing with some of the iconic songs which have made him and his collaborators Kurt Weill and Hans Eisler famous throughout the world.
Now she's in Cardiff for this one-off intimate gig which has strictly limited capacity giving the lucky few a unique up close and very personal experience of Camille's passionate and dramatic interpretations of the songs of Jacques Brel, Kurt Weill, Nick Cave, Hans Eisler, Bowie and Tom Waits.
It is as a singer Camille is most fulfilled, well known for her passionate and dramatic interpretations of the songs of Jacques Brel, Kurt Weill, Nick Cave, Hans Eisler, Bowie, and Tom Waits.
La musica y las canciones de su teatro, escritas por Kurt Weil, Hans Eisler y Paul Dessau son inseparables de sus textos.
When she's not performing, Tufts teaches performance techniques to Hans Eisler Academy's jazz students, helping them "communicate with the audience.
The section entitled "Contemporary Composers" is particularly interesting, as it chronicles the appearance and acceptance of such figures as Bartok and Hans Eisler in Barcelona at the beginning of the 1930s.
Enmarcado por las piezas y los autores clasicos de los anos veinte y treinta del siglo que se ha ido (Kurt Weill, Hans Eisler, las celebres versiones interpretadas por Marlene), el repertorio de Ute Lemper se extiende, sin embargo, tanto en tiempo como en latitudes culturales.
Much of parts 2 and 3 deals with the composers Hans Eisler and Cornelius Cardew.
Por lo mismo, fuertemente vinculado a la individualidad y accion de Brecht esta Hans Eisler (1898-1962).