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Classiscsonline Home » Composers » E » Eisler, Hanns



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Hanns Eisler (7/06/1898 - 9/06/1962)

Hanns Eisler was born into a liberal middle-class family, which moved in 1901 from Leipzig to Vienna. Here he studied music from books and scores, the family having insufficient money to buy a piano. He served in a Hungarian regiment during the last two years of World War I, and subsequently enrolled as a student at the New Vienna Conservatory. Soon Eisler moved on to become a pupil of Schoenberg, who was instrumental in the publication and public performance of his Piano Sonata Op. 1, which won the Vienna Arts Prize, and then during 1925 he settled in Berlin in order to take up a teaching post at the Klindworth-Scharwenka Conservatory, joining the German Communist party the following year.

He soon broke with Schoenberg (for whom however he retained the greatest respect throughout the rest of his life) and began to compose music, such as his popular marching songs, which had an overtly political purpose. Eisler started to collaborate with Bertolt Brecht in 1930, writing music for Brecht’s plays that comments upon rather than illustrates the meaning of the lyrics; he also visited Russia twice and was involved in the production of the film Kuhle Wampe. The rise to power of Hitler in 1933 stopped Eisler’s career in Germany in its tracks: his music was banned, and he spent the next fifteen years in exile, composing music dedicated to the overthrow of Fascism.

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