Elbphilharmonie Erklärt: Hanns Eisler

Elbphilharmonie Explains: Hanns Eisler

Eisler expert Albrecht Dümling on the extraordinary composer, his contradictions and on music for a better world.

Between Communism and Hollywood, twelve-tone music and workers’ songs, revolution and resignation: Hanns Eisler’s life and work oscillate between extremes. The composer was never satisfied with writing music for its own sake. He wanted more. He wanted music for a better world. In the 1930s, Eisler went into exile on the west coast of the USA and began composing film music. After returning to Europe, he became the GDR’s flagship composer. Eisler doesn’t fit into any category, but he does fit into our age. »His music is very topical«, claims the Eisler expert Albrecht Dümling.

As co-founder of the International Hanns Eisler Society, the musicologist ensured, on Eisler’s 100th birthday in 1998, that his music also returned to California. When he looks back at the numerous Eisler projects of the last few decades, he thinks: Eisler did it. His music was proven right. It was music for a better world.

  • About Albrecht Dümling

    When it comes to the study of »Degenerate Music«, Albrecht Dümling is never far away. For decades now he has been a key figure in music research on exiled composers and musicians persecuted by the Nazis. He was awarded the European music prize »Kairos« in 2007 for his work in rediscovering these musicians, and he was the recipient of the Federal Cross of Merit in 2021.

    The Berlin-based musicologist and journalist is the co-founder of the International Hanns Eisler Society, and the author of the exhibition »Degenerate Music in the ›Nazi State‹«, which travelled to more than 70 cities around the world. He was the editor of the »Eisler-Mitteilungen« journal for more than 20 years, and he also made an outstanding contribution through concerts, countless publications and new sheet music. In short, he is so familiar with the versatile composer, it’s as if he knew him personally.

»Eisler wanted to write music that amateurs could understand, and that experts still found interesting.«

Albrecht Dümling

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