Hanns Eisler: Music

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Roman Cantata RealAudio Buy
Ignazio Silone.

Although Eisler returned to the twelve-tone style during his exile years, he continued to write for economical musical forces: his chamber cantatas from this period are sung by one voice with limited instrumentation. The choice of texts is revealing: in the Römische Kantate (Roman Cantata) Eisler chose the Italian novelist Ignazio Silone—a novelist who was popular with European exiles not only from Italy but also the other countries overrun by fascism. In a way, turning to Silone was a quiet protest against Stalinist interference in the arts: Silone had been denounced as a heretic and purged from the Italian Communist Party. At this time Stalin's bloody campaign of terror was slaughtering an entire generation of Communists, and Eisler and Brecht were mourning the death of Soviet artists with whom they had formed a close relationship in the 1920s—especially the playwright Sergei Tretiakov who perished during the Moscow show trials. At the same time, the official Soviet doctrine of "socialist realism" had terminated experimentation in the arts and dictated a return to the "classics." It was no accident that after their flight from Nazi Germany both Brecht and Eisler, unlike other Communist exiles, chose the United States rather than the Soviet Union as their sanctuary. Stalin's cultural apparatus would have rejected Eisler's "modernism" and, in the 1930s, his rekindled devotion to his teacher, Schönberg.

Music sample © 1998 cpo.

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