Hanns Eisler – 14 Arten den Regen zu beschreiben (14 Ways To Describe The Rain), Op. 70 (1941)

In 1941, Eisler wrote music for the 1929 black-and-white documentary Rain by legendary Dutch director Joris Ivens. The Ivens website describes the film as “a very poetic film with changing moods, following the change from sunny Amsterdam streets to rain drops in the canals and the pooring rain on windows, umbrellas, trams and streets, until it clears up and the sun breaks through once again.” Eisler’s score was written as an experiment for the Rockefeller Foundation’s Film Music Project at the New School in New York City. The music does not exactly correspond to the mood of each image in the film; instead, it explores the textures of sadness—an unusual theme for Eisler. The chamber suite based on the film score was one of Eisler’s favorite works and is a study in his communicative style of twelve-tone music. It was premièred in Arnold Schönberg’s home in Los Angeles for the elder composer’s seventieth birthday celebration in 1944. [source]

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Hanns Eisler, a Marxist for our time?

Hanns Eisler is not, yet, a recovered voice. A two-time Oscar nominee for best score, the German composer, who fled the Nazis in 1933, was the first in motion pictures to be called up by the House Committee on Un-American Activities, and the first to be blacklisted in Hollywood. He was deported to East Germany in 1948.

“I leave this country not without bitterness and infuriation,” he said before boarding a TWA flight at La Guardia airport. We have not known quite what to do with him since.

On Saturday, the Villa Aurora in Pacific Palisades, once a hangout for the German émigrés in L.A., devoted a day to Eisler. A round-table discussion in the afternoon with American and German scholars looked at Eisler in general and at a peculiar part of his film work. In the evening, mezzo soprano Kristina Driskill and pianist Mark Robson persuasively performed much of Eisler’s pungent “Hollywood Songbook” from the composer’s L.A. years (1942-48).

Read the full article in the Los Angeles Times here.