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).