Hanns Eisler: CDs, Videos, Books CDs

Bullet Fourteen Ways of Describing Eisler
Bullet Symphonic, Chamber and Piano Music
Bullet Vocal and Choral Music
Bullet Videos with Eisler Scores
Bullet Books by and about Eisler
Bullet Political Music and the Urban Folk Revival

Hanns Eisler: Lieder  Buy this CD
Michaela Kaune, soprano; Dietrich Henschel, bariton; Axel Bauni, piano
Orfeo 479.981

Recent recording that explores Eisler's early atonal and twelve-tone vocal repertory as well as the wartime lieder composed during his exile in southern California. Includes his very early Galgenlieder (Gallows Songs) written directly after World War I, before he studied under Schönberg, plus the transitional Zeitungsauschnitte (Newspaper Clippings), Lustige Ecke, and the six Hölderlin Fragments.

Hanns Eisler: Hollywooder Liederbuch  Buy this CD
Wolfgang Holzmair, bariton; Peter Stamm, piano
Koch Schwann 313222

Along with Goerne's, one of the two outstanding interpretations of Eisler's "Hollywood Songbook" released for the composer's centenary in 1998. Unfortunately, only used copies appear to be available through the Amazon.com website, and the Amazon sites in the UK and Germany have dropped the recording completely.

Hymnen: Dem Morgenrot entgegen  Buy this CD or Buy this CD
Großes Rundfunkorchester Berlin, Großes Rundfunkorchester Leipzig, etc.
Barbarossa EdBa 01307-2

We recommend this recording because it includes both the choral and ochestral versions of the Eisler/Becher National Anthem of the German Democratic Republic. Also, the Eisler/Brecht Children's Hymn ("Anmut sparet nicht noch Mühe") with its remarkable line that summarizes Germany's postwar reality: "...that the nations will not grow pale as if confronted by a robber," i.e., when they meet a German in the street. Also of interest: rousing performances of the Soviet national anthem, patriotic Russian choruses from World War II, the Internationale, and classic socialist marches from Germany, Britain, Italy and Poland.

Hanns Eisler: Choral Music  Buy this CD
Berliner Singakademie, Großes Rundfunkorchester Berlin, etc.
Berlin Classics 0092362BC

Eisler was striving in the later years of the Weimar Republic to develop a communicative style of political song. These choruses were written to be sung by Communist choral societies in the "Agitprop" (Agitation-Propaganda) movement. Most of Eisler's best-known political choruses are on this album, including "Coal for Mike," a Brecht song based on Sherwood Anderson's story about a railroad worker's widow in Ohio.

Eislermaterial  Buy this CD [US] Buy this CD [Canada] Buy this CD [Germany]
Heiner Goebbels, Ensemble Modern
ECM Records 1779

Heiner Goebbels organized, rehearsed and arranged some of the music for this contemporary interpretation of Eisler's songs and chamber music. It has introduced a new generation of European audiences to Eisler, and now the performance can be purchased on CD. Press reviews are available on the ECM website.

Hanns Eisler: Choral Songs, Children's Songs, Popular Songs  Buy this CD
Rundfunk-Sinfonie-Orchester Berlin; Rundfunkchor Berlin; etc.
Berlin Classics 0092322BC

Highly recommended. GDR recordings of the Little Woodbury Song Book (composed for a children's choir in Woodbury, Connecticut), other collections of children's songs, the cantata Against War, the postwar Becher/Eisler New German Folk Songs, and the choral version of the GDR national anthem.

Hölderlin Gesänge, Hölderlin Songs  Buy this CD
Mitsuko Shirai, mezzosoprano; Hartmut Höll, piano
Capriccio 10 534

Highly recommended. Recent recording on songs set to Hölderlin poetry by Eisler, Britten, Ullman, Komma, Reutter, Fröhlich, Cornelius, Jarnach, Hauer, Pfitzner and Fortner. An excellent album showing how the 19th-century Hölderlin inspired some of the great 20th-century composers.

Unquiet Peace: The Lied Between the Wars  Buy this CD
Cyndia Sieden, William Sharp, Steven Blier
Koch 3-7086-2 H1

Highly recommended. An unusual collection of music by composers of many different styles who composed lieder before, during and after the Weimar era: Eisler, Weill, Strauss, Zemlinksy, others. Juxtaposing the late-Romantic and pro-Nazi Strauss on the same album with the anti-Romantic and anti-Nazi Eisler is an interesting choice.

Die Mutter  Buy this CD
Diego Fasolis, Coro della Radio Svizzera
Chandos 9820

The second Brecht/Eisler collaboration—on incidental music for the 1930 didactic play Die Mutter—was later rescored by Eisler as a cantata for choir and soloists with double piano accompaniment. Besides the cantata, this CD includes Four (Piano) Pieces, Op. 13; songs from the Little Woodbury Songbook; and the Brecht/Eisler Litanie vom Hauch (Litany of Breath), Op. 21. Also available from the Chandos Records website.

Die Mutter  Buy this CD
Choir and Orchestra of the Academy for Music "Hanns Eisler"
Barbarossa EdBa 01315-2

An earlier recording from GDR times of the cantata based on Die Mutter. Also includes two lively selections from Suite Nr. 4 ("Youth Has the Floor").

Hanns Eisler: Historic Recordings  Buy this CD or Buy this CD
Ernst Busch, Kate Kühl, Chor und Orchester des Berliner Ensembles, etc.
Berlin Classics 0092302BC

A collector's item: recordings of Brecht/Eisler political songs from the Weimar years, sung by Ernst Busch, along with an early 50s recording by the Berliner Ensemble of the songs from Brecht's Die Mutter.

Supply and Demand: Songs by Brecht/Weill and Eisler  Buy this CD
Dagmar Krause
Blueprint BOS1

Dagmar Krause's unusual interpretations of Weill/Eisler provide a good opportunity to compare the contrastings styles of the two most important composers for Brecht. Includes selections in German and in English translation. Available from some e-commerce sites, and directly from the distributor at voiceprint.co.uk.

Tank Battles  Buy this CD
Dagmar Krause
Blueprint BP 138

In Krause's second album of political songs, she concentrates solely on Eisler's Weimar and exile periods. Includes a rare recording of Und Endlich Stirbt ("And desire finally dies") based on a poem by Peter Altenburg. German and English. Also available at the distributor's website at voiceprint.co.uk.

Bertolt Brecht by Sylvia Anders  Buy this CD
Sylvia Anders, soprano; Justus Noll and Jazz Friends
Myto 982.H016

Sylvia Anders interprets Brecht songs with music by Brecht, Eisler, Weill, Dessau. Includes Eisler's Das Deutsche Miserere, Song of a German Mother, Abortion is Illegal—although sarcastic renditions of Solidaritätslied and Einheitsfrontlied might be considered by some listeners as distractions from an otherwise excellent performance.

Sylvia Anders Sings Hanns Eisler  Buy this CD
Sylvia Anders, soprano; Justus Noll and Jazz Friends
Myto 982.H016

Sylvia Anders interprets the Brecht/Eisler repertory, including the same songs recorded in her Bertolt Brecht album, but also including a generous selection from the Hollywood Songbook.

Goethe Lieder  Buy this CD
Christiane Oelz, Eric Schneider
Berlin Classics

Goethe songs by Eisler, Schubert, Webern.

Die Partei hat immer recht (The Party is Always Right)  Buy this CD
Soloistenvereinigung des Berliner Rundfunks, Chor der Staatsoper Berlin, Oktoberklub, etc.
Amiga 74321394862

A collection of sometimes rousing, sometimes dreadful political music from East Germany, 1949-1988, in a variety of popular styles. Includes the Becher/Eisler GDR national anthem, Becher/Eisler Song of the Blue Banner (composed for a 1950 rally of the Free German Youth), Brehm/Eisler Over the Elbe Go My Thanks.

Bertolt Brecht Vol. 17 (Songs, Lieder und Gedichte)  Buy this CD
Ernst Busch

This CD offers probably the best available recording of the Brecht/Eisler Solidaritätslied (Solidarity Song): a recording by Ernst Busch late in the late 1960s, when his voice was still strong and modern recording techniques show off Eisler's jazz-band orchestration of this militant hit from the Roaring Twenties.

Ernst Busch II: Tucholsky, Eisler, Wedekind  Buy this CD
Ernst Busch
Pläne 88770

Includes additional songs from Eisler's Tucholsky Lieder: Revolutions Rückblick, Ja Damals, Rosen auf den Weg gestreut, others.

Der rote Orpheus  Buy this CD
Ernst Busch
Barbarossa EdBa 01328-2

Original recordings from the 1930s of Busch singing Brecht/Eisler and other popular working-class songs. Recorded in Berlin before Hitler's rise to power, and in the Soviet Union after Busch's flight from Germany.

Der Barrikaden Tauber  RealAudio File Buy this CD
Ernst Busch
Barbarossa EdBa 01303-2

More recordings with Busch singing Eisler and other popular songs in the last years of the Weimar Republic and the early years of exile. The sample is an original recording of Kurt Tucholsky's Ballad of the Welfare System.

Wie könnten wir je vergessen  Buy this CD
Ernst Busch
Barbarossa EdBa 01384-2

Vol. I of Barbarossa's reissue of the classic "Lied der Zeit" series of East German recordings from 1946 to 1953 of Busch singing a broad repertory of revolutionary songs, including classics of the Spanish Civil War and new songs reflecting the tensions of the Cold War. Composers include Kurt Weill, Dmitri Shostakovich, Paul Dessau, Louis Fürnberg. Eisler is represented on each of these recordings. On this CD: Solidaritätslied, Einheitfrontslied, Brüder seid bereit (music for the 1929 Kominternlied with new lyrics), Lied der Bergarbeiter, Lob eines Revolutionärs.

Fort mit den Trümmern  Buy this CD
Ernst Busch
Barbarossa EdBa 01385-2

Vol. II of Lied der Zeit. Eisler selections include Wir Reichen euch die Hand; Ami, go home; Wenn die Soldaten; Den daran, Marlene; In allen Sprachen; Unserm Wilhelm Pieck.

Fragen eines lesenden Arbeiters  Buy this CD
Ernst Busch
Barbarossa EdBa 01386-2

Vol. III of Lied der Zeit. Eisler selections include Gruß an die Mark Brandenburg, Anmut sparet nicht noch Mühe.

Du mußt die Führung Übernehmen  Buy this CD
Ernst Busch
Barbarossa EdBa 01387-2

Vol. IV of Lied der Zeit. Eisler selections include nine songs from the Brecht/Eisler play Die Mutter and six of Eisler's post-war Neue Deutsche Volkslieder with texts by Johannes Becher.

Eure Träume gehen durch mein Lied  Buy this CD
Ernst Busch
Barbarossa EdBa 01388-2

Vol. V of Lied der Zeit. Eisler selections include Kessel-Song; Über das Seefahren; Ballade von den Säckeschmeißern; Ballade vom Soldaten; Ballade von der Wöhltätigkeit; Dank Euch, ihr Sowjetsoldaten; Marie, weine nicht; Im Sturmes Nacht; Die alten Weisen; Spartakus 1919; Mein Sohn, was immer auch aus dir werde; Deutsche Weihnacht.

Deutsche Sinfonie: An Anti-fascist Cantata  RealAudio Buy this CD [US] Buy this CD [UK]
Lothar Zagrosek, Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra
London 448 389-2

From London's "Entartete Musik" series. Eisler rejected the large-scale symphonic form during his famous turn away from concert music in the late 1920s, but, paradoxically, this is a monumental choral symphony of 11 movements based on poetry by Brecht and Silone. All but the last movement showcase Eisler's distinctive style of twelve-tone composition. The texts, set in the period of exile from Nazi Germany, explore the political and psychological landscapes of despair, defiance and hope. Decca/London—now a subsidiary of Universal Music—has withdrawn this significant recording by the world-famous Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra from the market, so only a few copies are left at the Amazon US and UK websites. Buy it while you have the chance!

The Music Survives! Degenerate Music  Buy this CD
Lothar Zagrosek, Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra
London/Decca 452664

When the last recording of "Deutsche Sinfonie" disappears, this sampler (from London/Decca's now-abandoned "Entartete Musik" series of music suppressed by the Nazis) may still be available. It includes the impressive choral Prelude (Präludium) from Eisler's symphony.

Songs of Hanns Eisler  Buy this CD
Eric Bentley
Smithsonian Folkways

Eric Bentley was the first American artist to reintroduce Eisler to the U.S. public after the composer's forced departure in 1948. In 1964 he recorded this disk of Eisler's songs and published the "Brecht-Eisler Songbook." Available as a CD from the Smithsonian Institution.

Hanns Eisler: Songs and Cantatas in Exile  Buy this CD
Roswitha Trexler, soprano; Jutta Czapski, piano; Rundfunk-Jugendchor Leipzig
Berlin Classics 0092292BC

GDR recordings in a 2-CD set of Eisler's early and middle lieder and other concert songs. Includes songs to poems by Hölderlin and Goethe; three cantatas to poetry by Ignazio Silone, and selections from the Brecht/Eisler Hollywood Songbook.

Hanns Eisler: Dokumente  Buy this CD
Berlin Classics 0090582BC

Rare recordings of Eisler conducting rehearsals in Berlin; interviews on GDR radio from the late 1950s and early 60s about jazz, blues, Bertolt Brecht; performances by Eisler, Gisela May, others.

Hollywood Song-Book: Lieder of the Exile
Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, tenor; Aribert Reimann, piano
Teldec 4509-97459-2

Teldec (now a subsidiary of Warner) has discontinued this interpretation of Eisler's "Hollywooder Liederbuch" by Fischer-Dieskau. We recommend the more recent recording by Matthias Goerne in our Fourteen Ways list.

Urban Cabaret
Maria Tegzes, soprano; Geoffrey Burleson, piano
Neuma 450-83

Rare recording of Schönberg's tonal Brettl-Lieder (composed early in the century, before he invented the twelve-tone method, for performance in the legendary Berlin cabaret Überbrettl, Overboard). Eisler/Brecht selections include a meditative interpretation of "Change the World: It Needs It." Also a recent composition by Edward Harsh on the uses of language.

Föllinger singt Brecht und Tucholsky
Torsten Föllinger, ensemble
Proprius PRCD 9097

What happens when political cabaret is sung in German with a heavy Swedish accent? If you've ever asked that question, this CD has the answer.

Written by Andy Lang.

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This is a complete discography of available Eisler CDs of choral and vocal music, minus those selections that we recommend in our list of the top fourteen Eisler albums. You will need a recent version of RealPlayer to hear the music samples on this site.

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