Hanns Eisler

Hanns Eisler

Additional Names: Johannes Eisler (Geburtsname)
Darsteller, Drehbuch, Ton, Musik, Sonstiges
*06.07.1898 Leipzig; †06.09.1962 Berlin (Ost)

Biography


Johannes Eisler was born in Leipzig on July 6th 1898. In 1901, his family relocated to Vienna, where the young boy soon started to discover his musical talent. Together with his brother Gerhart, he immersed himself in philosophical and socialsist literature.
After graduating from school in 1916, Eisler was drafted and joined a Hungarian regiment. He was wounded several times in WWI and his front experiences alongside with the news of the Soviet October Revolution further strengthened his socialist convictions.

In 1919, Eisler enrolled at Neue Wiener Konservatorium, which didn"t fulfil his expectations. The same year, he became a private student of Arnold Schönberg, who taught Eisler for four years without demanding any pay. Schönberg also helped Eisler by providing him a job at a music publisher. In 1922, Eisler was awarded the art prize of the city of Vienna for his piano sonata No. 1. He also conducted two workers" choirs at that time. The contradictions between the avant-garde chamber music he produced and his political beliefs finally prompted Eisler to depart radically from his previous composition style.

In September 1925, Eisler moved to Berlin where he worked as a teacher at the Klindworth-Scharwenka Konservatorium. He aligned himself with the German Communist Party although he wasn"t an official member, wrote music reviews for the periodical "Rote Fahne" and participated in Agit-Prop group "Das Rote Sprachrohr". Until the end of the Weimar Republic, he exclusively composed pieces which dealt directly with the political struggles of that time.


Eisler also wrote hugely popular songs for workers" choirs and demonstrations. His favourite singer became Ernst Busch, with whom he worked frequently. Ever expanding in his attempt to reach the masses, Eisler composed for the stage, radio and film. He forged a life-long partnership with playwright Bertolt Brecht and wrote the score for the proletarian film classic "Kuhle Wampe. In 1927, he married Charlotte Demand, their son Georg – who was to become a seminal painter – was born in 1928.

Residing in Vienna in January 1933, Eisler"s 16 year-long exile began. He supported himself by working as a film composer and continued to work with Brecht. A fervent anti-fascist, he gave lectures all over Europe and in the US and tried to politically organize the emigrants. Most of his compositions were intended to support the resistance and the fight against Nazi Germany.
After marrying Lou Jolesch in 1927, he relocated to New York in 1938. He taught at the New School for Social Research before he began a research project on the use of new music in motion picture scores funded by the Rockefeller Foundation. During that time, he also scored films, including Joris Ivens" "Regan". As a result of his studies, Eisler wrote "Komposition für den Film" together with Theodor W. Adorno.

Between 1942- 1947 Eisler resided in Los Angeles. Thanks to his work as a film composer, he was financially well off and his house in Pacific Palisades became a meeting point for German and American artists, including Thomas Mann and Charles Chaplin. In 1946, Eisler"s brother Gerhart became a victim of the anti-communist witch hunt instigated by the House Un-American Activities Commitee (HUAC). Hanns Eisler himself was publicly interrogated by the HUAC between September 24-26 1947.
The committee decided that he was to extradited from the United States. Famous artists and scientists (among them Pablo Picasso and Jean Cocteau) rallied on behalf of Eisler, but to no avail. On February 2nd 1948, a farewell concert was hosted by friends like Leonard Bernstein and Aaron Copland and one month later, Eisler left the US for good.


Eisler was reluctant to return to Germany, but in 1949 he settled in Berlin. He collaborated with Johannes R. Becher on the "Neuen Deutschen Volkslieder" and together they composed the national anthem of the German Democratic Republic. Eisler became a professor at the Konservatorium Berlin, which was later named after him, and was a co-founder of the Akademie der Künste.
Eisler, who now predominately composed for the stage, also experienced ideological conflict with the regime in the 1950s, which prompted him to spend a year in Vienna. In 1958, he married Stephanie Peschl. Until his death, he remained the fiercely intelligent, animated and impulsive individual he was known to be. The ongoing productive struggle between artistic innovation and political cause in his work continued well into his last composition.

Hanns Eisler passed away in East Berlin on September 6th 1962.

Filmography

2003-2009 Der Junker und der Kommunist
Music (other)
 
1999 Die Erklärung des ersten Kapitels Luce das doch eyn yeder lernte mit eynem halb aug sehen
Music
 
1998/1999 Der Vulkan
Music, Source music
 
1997 Hundert Jahre Brecht
Music
 
1997 Solidaritätslied. Hanns Eisler - eine Geschichte
Music, Miscellaneous
 
1997 Die verschiedenen Gesichter des Sergej Michailowitsch Eisenstein
Music
 
1996 Leben ohne Angst - Hanns Eisler
based on
 
1989 Komm ins Offene, Freund! Oder gegen die Dummheit in der Musik
Music
 
1987 Chausseestraße 126
Music
 
1987 denn alles bewegt sich, mein Freund
Music
 
1983 Walter Ballhause - Einer von Millionen
Music
 
1982/1983 Fariaho
Music
 
1981-1983 Krieg und Frieden
Music
 
1979/1980 Berlin - Auguststraße
Music
 
1979 Kennst du das Land... Eine politische Revue
Music
 
1978/1979 Deutschlandgeschichten ...können mir doch Arbeit geben, die Philister...
Music
 
1975/1976 WML - Steiger oder Maler
Music
 
1975 Galileo
Music
 
1974 DDR-Magazin [Jg. 1974 / Nr. 04]
Participation
 
1973 Ändere die Welt, sie braucht es. Begegnungen mit Hanns Eisler
Participation, Music
 
1971 Drum links, zwei, drei
Music
 
1970 Der Oktober kam ...
Music
 
1969 Anno Populi - Im Jahre des Volkes 1949
Music
 
1966/1967 Gisela May singt Brecht
Source music
 
1966 Hilmar Thate singt Dessau, Eisler, Hosalla
Source music
 
1966 Die Tage der Commune
Music
 
1962 Gisela May singt und spricht Kurt Tucholsky
Music
 
1961 Das Leben des Galilei
Music
 
1961 Schweyk im Zweiten Weltkrieg
Music
 
1960/1961 Aktion J
Sound (other)
 
1959/1960 Ein Künstler des Volkes
Music
 
1959/1960 Trübe Wasser
Music
 
1958 Geschwader Fledermaus
Music
 
1957 Katzgraben
Music
 
1956/1957 Die Hexen von Salem
Music
 
1956 Fidelio
Screenplay, Music
 
1955/1956 Herr Puntila und sein Knecht Matti
Music
 
1955 Gasparone
Screenplay, Music
 
1955 Nuit et brouillard
Music
 
1954/1955 Bel ami
Music
 
1954 Schicksal am Lenkrad
Music
 
1952 Frauenschicksale
Music
 
1950/1951 Wilhelm Pieck - Das Leben unseres Präsidenten
Music
 
1949/1950 Der Rat der Götter
Music
 
1949 Unser täglich Brot
Music
 
1947 Leben des Galilei
Music
 
1946 A Scandal in Paris
Music
 
1945 The Spanish Main
Music
 
1943 Hangmen Also Die!
Music
 
1936 Pagliacci
Arrangement
 
1935 Abdul the Damned
Music
 
1931/1932 Kuhle Wampe oder Wem gehört die Welt?
Music
 
1931 Niemandsland
Music
 
1930/1931 Das Lied vom Leben
Music
 
1923-1925 Ruttmann Opus 3
Music