Internationale Hanns Eisler Gesellschaft (IHEG) e.V.

Complete Edition: Songs 1922-1932 by Knud Breyer

Our current tip: the 2020 volume of songs from the Hanns Eisler Gesamtausgabe (Hg. Internationale Hanns Eisler Gesellschaft) Series III (Music for Voice and Piano) Vol. 2.1: Songs 1922-1932 with a preface in German and English.

Hanns Eisler’s Lied works of the years 1922 to 1932 manifest the upheavals in the composer’s artistic self-image like a burning glass. While his early songs from 1917 onwards were still strongly influenced by the formal language of Hugo Wolf and Gustav Mahler, the young musician’s years of apprenticeship with Arnold Schönberg, which began in 1919, were soon reflected in a clear reorientation that made use of the new expressive means and the new compositional style of the twelve-tone technique. Eisler’s departure from Schönberg’s avant-garde style, which began around 1925, and his turn towards what he saw as a proletarian musical culture with a promising future, was just as thorough: Eisler’s political radicalisation, flanked by his work for the communist agitprop troupe “Das rote Sprachrohr” and for the KPD party newspaper “Die Rote Fahne”, led him to the new objective of making his compositional skills, trained on bourgeois musical culture, serviceable to the life interests, aesthetic needs and political goals of the proletariat. From then on, he focused almost exclusively on composing vocal music and chose political poems by Erich Weinert, Bertolt Brecht, Kurt Tucholsky, Walter Mehring and David Robert Winterfeld (aka Robert Gilbert aka David Weber) as texts for his songs.

The present partial volume 2.1 of Hanns Eisler’s Lieder contains all such compositions from the cycle op. 2 (1922) to the “Zeitungsauschnitte” op. 11 (1925-27) and the “Lied der roten Flieger” (1932). The later ones were no longer intended for the concert hall, but for use in films and plays, in cabaret programmes and political events, so that the traditional instrumentation for voice and piano was joined by other performance variants, for example in the form of alternating soloist and choir, which ultimately made the inclusion of the audience possible, i.e. the development of the genre into a mass song.