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Germanic Languages & Literatures
Master of Arts (M.A.)
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Hanns Eisler routinely expressed his discontent with the state of music and society in the late 1920s in Die Rote Fahne—an organ of the Marxist revolutionary organization, the Spartakusbund, to which he often contributed. His 1928 essay “Man baut um,” among the most notable of these writings, declares that the high expenditures in art—such as the construction of a fourteen-million Mark opera house—to be the result of capitalist greed rather than a reflection of the desire for musical performances, as had been suggested. Although the cost of the new venue is the subject in this satirical passage, this contains a secondary accusation. With a grotesque sense of amusement, he suggests that schoolchildren are certainly content to go without breakfast because they understand the importance of the opera building. In doing so, he sheds light on the human consequences of material desires.
Caustic accusations regarding various aspects of musical culture are a common occurrence in Eisler’s writings, particularly in the years surrounding his break with his teacher, Arnold Schoenberg—1924-1927. During this time, not only did Eisler become increasingly vocal in his printed critiques, but his ideologies became apparent in his compositional style as well. This thesis contends that two of his musical parodies between 1924 and 1927, Palmström (1924) and Zeitungsausschnitte (1925-1927) contain satirical criticisms of contemporary musical consumption and content, which are paralleled in his published prosaic critiques.
Wells, Alyssa, "Parody and Satire in Hanns Eisler's Palmström and Zeitungsausschnitte" (2015). Masters Theses. 305.