The Hanns Eisler Gesamtausgabe (‘Hanns Eisler Complete Edition’, HEGA) is conceived as a historical-critical edition. Its goal is to make all of Hanns Eisler’s extant compositions and writings generally accessible and to make them ‘useful’ to musical practitioners, in line with the composer’s own intentions, by presenting them in sound, scholarly editions. It thereby also endeavours to counter the selective awareness of the composer. Its historical-critical approach is undoubtedly particularly appropriate to Eisler’s own working methods. Many of his works exist in different versions, and it was furthermore typical of him to make multiple use of his music in quite differing aesthetic, historical and social contexts. This was not least a reflection, too, of the composer’s political stance.
Plans for a complete edition of Eisler’s works reach back into the 1960s, when the creation of a Hanns Eisler Archive at the Academy of Arts of the German Democratic Republic laid the foundation for a collection of all the available sources pertaining to the composer’s life and work. Nathan Notowicz began editing Eisler’s Gesammelte Werke (‘Collected Works’) at the time, and his work was continued by Manfred Grabs and Eberhardt Klemm. Their project was succeeded by the Hanns Eisler Gesamtausgabe, set up as a collaboration between the International Hanns Eisler Society (itself founded in 1994), Stephanie Eisler (the composer’s widow) and the Archive of the Academy of Arts in Berlin. The editorial board comprised Albrecht Dümling (until 2000), Gert Mattenklott (†) and Christian Martin Schmidt. The first volume appeared in 2002, namely the incidental music for Die Rundköpfe und die Spitzköpfe (‘Roundheads and Peakheads’). Four further volumes of music and the first volume of writings followed.
The composition of the editorial board changed in 2010. The editorial guidelines were reviewed at the same time, the principal aim being to achieve a greater degree of user-friendliness for the edited text and its accompanying critical report. These revised guidelines were relevant primarily to the music editions....more...less
The music editions
The main volumes will contain works in those versions whose greater claim to validity is supported either by Eisler’s own proven intentions or by their reception history. The accompanying critical report will be included after the musical text; it may appear as a separate volume, should its length make this appropriate. Other versions of these works will be published in supplementary volumes. Associated sketches will be published in separate volumes in Series VII, inasmuch as their publication is not already planned in supplementary volumes. Where few sketches are extant or in cases where sketches are relevant to the edition of a work, these may be given in the critical report of the main volume in question. The compositions will be arranged chronologically within the individual volumes.
The musical text of the works will be presented in one of three editorial forms: as a work edition (Werkedition), a content edition (Inhaltsedition) or a source edition (Quellenedition).
The work edition applies to Eisler’s completed compositions and will thus apply to the main volumes of Series I to VI and VIII and, in part, also to the supplementary volumes and the fragments of Series VII. The principle behind the work edition is that the published musical text is the final result of a critical evaluation of the sources and does not itself constitute a part of that process. In other words the musical text is not edited so as to reflect its relationship to the main source (neither its divergence from it nor its conformity to it), but presents an edition of Eisler’s composition according to decisions made by the editors after a critical analysis of the texts. For this reason there will be no brackets, dotted lines or other graphic distinctions in the edited text that would signify its relationship to the sources. Above and beyond this, the following principles apply to the work edition:
- – Both the disposition of instruments in the score and the notation will be in line with modern notational practice.
- – In the case of linguistic texts, orthography and hyphenation will be brought into line with current rules.
- – In general, shorthand signs for repeats, abbreviations and colla parte instructions will be omitted and the text given in full without further comment.
The source edition applies primarily to sketches and drafts and aims to offer a text that is as faithful as possible to the source in question. The edition is made diplomatically but does not, however, offer the precise line-for-line layout of the original. Staff changes there will be indicated by appropriate, additional signs in the edition. Additions by the editor will be given in square brackets, while the different gestation stages of the work may be indicated by small print or the dotting of lines and slurs.
The content edition applies to fragments for which there are nevertheless no doubts as to their compositional intent, and to first or early versions of works that Eisler himself denoted as preliminary stages. The content edition is situated between the work and source editions. It aims to reproduce the content of the source but not its superficial inconsistencies. The musical text is thus edited according to modern notational rules. As in the source edition, additions by the editor are indicated by graphic means, but the principles of the work edition may apply when correcting obvious mistakes or when adding or removing signs that are either clearly missing or clearly superfluous; these would then be listed appropriately in the critical report.
The critical report provides the philological reasoning behind the editorial decisions made. Essentially it comprises an overview, a description and an evaluation of the sources, and critical remarks on the text. According to the state of the sources, the lists of variant readings and of corrections may be integrated either in the description of sources or in the critical remarks.
The edition of Eisler’s writings
This series begins with the Gesammelte Schriften (‘Collected Writings’), ordered chronologically, comprising the whole spectrum of Eisler’s texts from published writings to private notes. Komposition für den Film (‘Composing for the Films’) and Johann Faustus, which were both published in book form, will be presented in separate volumes. In each case, given the particular circumstances of the source material, the edition will itself incorporate comprehensive documentation of the genesis of the text. The complete edition will also include all extant letters and drafts of letters by Eisler, as well as interviews and conversations with him. In analogy to the music editions, there will be three different types of edition in the case of his writings:
The text edition (Textedition) applies to all texts by Eisler published in his lifetime and, as a rule, to all other texts that were intended for the public or for an institutional group of readers or listeners (such as lectures, reports and statements). The orthography of the texts will be standardized and no graphic indications will be given of different layers of text. Editorial emendations will be listed only in the commentary, as will corrections that were made in the sources themselves and that are clearly visible.
The content edition (Inhaltsedition) will apply to the letters. Eisler’s orthography and punctuation will be retained here in order to better reproduce the character of the texts as they reached their addressee. Only trivial slips of the pen will be corrected, in the interest of readability. Drafts of letters will be given according to the rules of the ‘source edition’.
The source edition (Quellenedition) applies to drafts, sketches and notes. These will be edited diplomatically. Deletions will be indicated as such, whereas insertions will be denoted by diacritical signs. The original line breaks of the text will not be indicated, however.
The commentary will offer information on the origin and nature of the sources edited, on dating problems and on drafts and variants of the texts. It will contain critical remarks and explanatory comments on both content and context.
Thomas Phleps / Georg Witte
Translation: Chris Walton