This Saturday, March 28, Chameleon will be performing Hann Eisler’s Fourteen Ways to Describe Rain for flute, clarinet, string trio, and piano.
Eisler’s story is fascinating. A wounded veteran of the First World War, Eisler studied with Schoenberg and Webern between 1919 and 1923 in Vienna. A lifelong communist and close friend and collaborator of Bertolt Brecht, Eisler was forced into exile in the United States by Hitler’s Third Reich. He was subsequently deported as one the first victims of the Hollywood blacklist and lived out his life in East Germany. Eisler’s music ranges from strictly avant-garde 12-tone technique to clearly diatonic text-setting that perfectly served the Socialist messages of his vocal works. Fourteen Ways to Describe Rain is a highly expressive example of the former and one of his rare pieces of chamber music, composed in 1941 in the United States to accompany Dutch filmmaker Joris Ivens’ 1929 experimental film Regen. It was dedicated to his teacher Arnold Schoenberg, premiered at his 70th birthday celebration and labeled Opus 70 despite the fact that Eisler had long since stopped numbering his works.
Read more about Hanns Eisler at http://eislermusic.com
Bertolt Brecht, Hanns Eisler, and director Slatan Dudow
Bertolt Brecht (sitting), Hanns Eisler (left) and director Slatan Dudow planning the 1930 movie Kuhle Wampe—set in Berlin during the last crisis years of the Weimar Republic. The film was an early test of Eisler’s theories about the function of music in the then-new technology of sound films. Photo © Stiftung Archiv, Akademie der Künste, Berlin.
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