Hanns Eisler (1898–1962) Hanns Eisler Complete Edition (HEGA) – SON 511
edited by the Internationale Hanns Eisler Gesellschaft
248 pages | 25 x 32 cm | 1279 g | ISMN: 979-0-004-80344-8 | Hardback
From the Introduction
The orchestral works that Hanns Eisler composed in the 1930s are significant in two aspects. First, they represent Eisler’s return to dodecaphony after a period of some five years when he had refrained from using the method. Secondly, they document a new relationship between functional and absolute music in his oeuvre. Except for the two outer movements of the Kleine Sinfonie (‘Little Symphony’) op. 29, all the works in the present volume had already been used in a functional context, either in film or in the theatre, before they were reworked as independent concert music.
It was common for Eisler to have his functional music performed in the concert hall – especially in the case of his film music – but now that music also appears in a very different context. He had hitherto reused such music in the ‘open’ genre of the suite […], but now he subjected it to a remarkable act of reorientation with regard to the very character of the work itself. […] In this way pieces of incidental music were intended for the theatre. Given their proximity to the salon orchestra in their instrumentation, and to functional Gebrauchsmusik in matters of their genre, they would have in fact been perfectly suited to incorporation into one of Eisler’s orchestral suites. Instead, they were now taken up into the classical genre of the symphony (namely the Kleine Sinfonie op. 29 of 1931). Conversely, Eisler’s film music for The 400 Million (1939), a documentary film by Joris Ivens […], was the first-ever film score to use dodecaphony – in other words, he was here expanding film music by applying a compositional method hitherto reserved mainly for absolute music. So […] it was logical for Eisler to re-use this film score in a concert context. Its music accordingly found its way into his Fünf Orchesterstücke (‘Five Pieces for Orchestra’), his Scherzo mit Solovioline (‘Scherzo with Solo Violin’), and his Thema mit Variationen (Der lange Marsch) (‘Theme and variations [The long march]’).
In the case of the Scherzo mit Solovioline, it is even possible that Eisler in fact took the reverse path – in other words, it might have originally been a work intended for the concert hall before being turned into film music.
|1. Kleine Sinfonie Op. 29|
|2. Scherzo with Violin Solo|
|3. Five Orchestral Pieces|
|4. Theme with Variations (Der lange Marsch)|