Eisler: 3 Pieces for Orchestra
from the music to the film "The 400 Million" - compiled by Manfred Grabs
In April 1938 Eisler wrote an extensive and exclusively dodecaphonic soundtrack for Ivens’ documentary on China, “The 400 Million”, and account of events in China during the 1930s. Two years later this score formed the basis of Eisler’s “Five Orchestral Pieces”, all of which are classic examples of the composers’s handling of the twelve-note row, in which individual details had to be “correct” in terms of the twelve-note system, while at the same time matching the images on screen and yet never sounding merely mechanical. In 1958 he remarked on this in conversation: “For the last two days I’ve been trying out a piece that I wrote some twenty-one years ago and that now genuinely aspires to a high technical level. […] And now I can see how I achieved this. It’s only when this verve or power or even brutality that is found in pieces on the same technical level is present in the piece on which I’m now working that I’m really satisfied with it. If I’d achieved this by other means, I’d say it was very effective. But there’s more to it than that. […] I really do believe that neither this nor any other of my works strives only for existing effects. And if you manage to bring this off, you’ve really worked hard as a composer, I think.”
In 1973, eleven years after Eisler’s death, Manfred Grabs drew on the surviving score of “The 400 Million” to produce the posthumous “Three pieces for orchestra”.
|1. Andante con moto - 3'30"|
|2. Molto allegro - 13'|
|3. Thema mit Variationen (Der lange Marsch) - 8'30"|