Hanns Eisler (1898–1962) Keenen Sechser in der Tasche
Songs and Ballads edited by Oliver Dahin and Peter Deeg [vce,pno]
64 pages | 23 x 30,5 cm | 258 g | ISMN: 979-0-2004-9116-6 | Softbound
Hanns Eislers songs and ballads of the late 1920s and early 1930s have long enjoyed cult status: compositions such as the Stempellied (Keenen Sechser in der Tasche), the Lied der Bergarbeiter or the Ballade von den Baumwollpflückern were once popularised by Ernst Busch and can today be heard on CD in their historical gramophone recordings. The scores for voice and piano, however, have long been less easy to acquire. This new anthology of 20 songs (to texts by Arendt, Brecht, Gilbert, Tucholsky, Weinert and others) finally fills this gap: alongside classic Eisler songs long absent from the catalogue, the editors present new and revised editions including the well-known Tucholsky chanson Wenn die Igel in der Abendstunde (Anna-Luise) and the Kuppellied from Brechts Die Rundköpfe und die Spitzköpfe. The collection is completed with seven first editions, preeminent amongst them the highly melancholic Gruß an die Mark Brandenburg (text: Robert Gilbert) composed in exile. The oeuvre of the song composer Eisler once more proves itself inexhaustible.
|1. Stempellied (Lied der Arbeitslosen) / 1929||(Robert Gilbert)|
|2. Lied der Bergarbeiter / 1929||(Anna Gmeyner)|
|3. Gustav Kulkes seliges Ende / 1929||(Erich Weinert)|
|4. Ballade von den Baumwollpflückern / 1930||(B. Traven)|
|5. Ballade von den Säckeschmeißern / 1930||(Julian Arendt)|
|6. Wenn die Igel in der Abendstunde (Anna-Luise) / 1930||(Kurt Tucholsky)|
|7. Die Heinzelmännchen / 1932||(Robert Gilbert)|
|8. Der Marsch ins dritte Reich / 1932||(Bertolt Brecht)|
|9. Spartakus 1919 / 1932||(Richard Schulz)|
|10. Die Osseger Witwen / 1935||(Bertolt Brecht)|
|11. Kuppellied / 1936||(Bertolt Brecht)|
|12. Mutter Beimlein / 1937||(Bertolt Brecht)|
|13. Deutsches Miserere / 1943||(Bertolt Brecht)|
|14. Kälbermarsch / 1943||(Bertolt Brecht)|
|15. Gruß an die Mark Brandenburg / um 1945||(Robert Gilbert)|
|16. Der Butterräuber von Halberstadt / um 1945||(unbekannter Verfasser)|
|17. Aberglauben-Lied / 1948||(Johann Nestroy)|
|18. Moritat vom Vatermörder Christopher Mahon / 1956||(Peter Hacks / Anna E. Wiede)|
|19. Von den Helden Irlands / 1956||(Peter Hacks / Anna E. Wiede)|
|20. Bleib gesund mir, Krakau / 1962||(Mordechai Gebirtig)|
As a student of Arnold Schoenberg, Hanns Eisler (1898–1962) wrote modern chamber music works and atonal art songs which were performed at the avantgarde music festivals in Donaueschingen and Venice in 1925. Eisler only achieved his pioneering success, however, a few years later as the composer of political choruses, songs and ballades in Berlin – above all from 1929, when he began performing with the actor and singer Ernst Busch. Busch initially sang Eisler’s songs in theatres: at the Piscator Theatre and the short-lived “Theatre of Workers” – a little later at the Berlin Volksbühne and in the productions of Bertolt Brecht. In turn, Eisler acted as piano accompanist to Busch’s performances in workers’ pubs and cabarets (especially in Werner Finck’s “Katakombe”), but also in the large ballrooms in the workers’ boroughs of Wedding and Neukölln. The Soviet author Sergei Tretiakov described the duo following his visit to Berlin in 1931:
“The singer Ernst Busch. In shirt sleeves. The shirt tucked into the trousers. Hands in his pockets. Provocative posture. That’s how young German workers like to stand around and mockingly watch a man with a bowler hat, breathing difficulties and a signet ring who carefully avoids them […]. This Busch has nothing to do with evening dress and the shirt front of a soloist. He holds no roll of music in his hand. – And at the piano a dwarf, broad-shouldered, with a large, shining bald head and trousers whose creases go down to his heels. That is the composer of the songs which Busch will sing: Hanns Eisler.”
Busch and Eisler evidently hit the right note exploring pressing issues such as unemployment and the global economic crisis in a way which was by no means moralising but, as it were, “with heart and attitude” in political songs such as the Stempellied (“Keenen Sechser in der Tasche”), the Lied der Bergarbeiter or the Ballade von den Säckeschmeißern. Other performers such as Kate Kühl or Erich Weinert also sang Eisler’s songs at the time, which would soon be heard in ever larger halls and ultimately at huge events at the Berlin Sports Palace in front of 25,000 people. The first Eisler shellac record was issued in late 1929 – the last for a long time to come (Der Marsch ins dritte Reich) in January 1933.
Although Eisler continued his work as a political composer while in exile, the late 1930s marked the beginning of a caesura in his song production: cut offfrom his audience and his best performer Ernst Busch – who was first interned in France and then remained in prison in Nazi Germany until the end of the war – Eisler initially again composed twelve-tone music and the filigree art songs of his Hollywood Songbook (edition: DV 9070) in American exile. Only towards the end of the war did he resume composition of popular songs and ballads, a number of which (such as the Deutsches Miserere by Brecht or the Gruß an die Mark Brandenburg by Robert Gilbert, the latter published here for the first time) he promptly sent to Berlin once contact with Busch was finally reestablished in 1946. After returning to Europe in 1948, Eisler wrote numerous songs for theatre productions in Vienna and ultimately in East Berlin, of which three particularly charming examples (from Nestroy’s Höllenangst and Synge’s Der Held der westlichen Welt) have been selected for the present volume.
Owing to the circumstances of their creation, a number of the songs collected here are not nearly as well documented in Eisler’s estate as, for example, his piano sonatas or orchestral works. In some cases the musical outline of a song was only set down in draft fashion, in others there are textual and musical discrepancies between the extant autographs and the versions of the songs recorded by Eisler or Busch themselves. Consequently, for the edition – accounted for in the Anmerkungen from p. 61 – historic sound recordings were in several cases employed as important sources for editorial decisions.
Alongside numerous first editions, the present volume features some of Eisler’s most well-known songs such as the Stempellied, the Ballade von den Baumwollpflückern or Wenn die Igel in der Abendstunde in authentic piano versions published for the first time in many years. It is to be hoped that, 50 years after the death of the composer (on 6 September 1962 in East Berlin), a good number of them still retain the impact the pianist and publicist Eberhard Rebling observed in the early 1930s at one of Busch and Eisler’s legendary performances: “The audience practically went mad. Back then I thought how much I would like to perform to such an enthusiastic public one day! I think it had traits of what would later be called pop music – the people were really carried away, they sang along to the songs and yelled as if they were in a football stadium.”
Berlin, Spring 2012