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One of the most prolific German composers of the 20th. century, Hanns Eisler was a communist who sought to blend politics, advanced musical techniques, and folk elements into compositions that would five a powerful voice to Europe's working classes. To that end he left behind an extensive body of songs, chamber works, film scores, and theoretical writings that stand as critiques of and alternatives to popular society. While Eisler has received much musicological attention in his native Germany, he has received less notice from scholars in the United States. This treatise provides English-speaking singers and music historians with an introduction to Eisler's Kampflieder, or fighting songs, from the pre-World War II period. As these songs are bound to the political culture of Weimar Germany, I have included an analysis of the ways Marxist dialectical materialism shaped Eisler's compositional aesthetic. Eisler's fighting songs were also bound to agitpropaganda theater groups that developed in Berlin's working class neighborhoods; this treatise offers a glimpse into the social context that produced those groups and Eisler's position within them as a musical revolutionary. In 1947, while living in the United States, Hanns Eisler was investigated by the FBI and interrogated by the House Un-American Activities Committee, making him one of the first artists to be publicly attacked as "Communist" and blacklisted for his political affiliations. I have argued that his pre-War fighting songs bore directly on his American fate, and that the lingering effects of McCarthyism have led to his neglect in American music scholarship.
A Treatise submitted to the School of Music in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Music.
Includes bibliographical references.
Jerrold Pope, Professor Directing Treatise; Denise Von Glahn, Committee Member; Stanford Olsen, Committee Member; Marcia Porter, Committee Member.
Florida State University
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