Karl W. Schindler | composer
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MUSICIANS UNITE! A Night of Hanns Eisler Songs is a collection of 24 songs by Hanns Eisler (almost all words by Bertolt Brecht), arranged by Karl Schindler for six vocalists, clarinet, violin, piano, bass, and drums.

Hanns Eisler (1898-1962) was born in Leipzig, Germany but moved with his family to Vienna, Austria at an early age. After serving in the Austro-Hungarian army during World War I, Eisler returned to Vienna and shortly thereafter began studying composition with Arnold Schönberg. Although Anton Webern and Alban Berg are more well-known as Schönberg's students, Schönberg himself considered Eisler one of his top students with great promise as a professional composer. Eisler eventually moved away from Vienna—and also from the notion of writing abstract concert music—to live in Berlin and pursue writing "functional music" filled with political and social commentary. There, he became involved in the German workers' movement and met poet and playwright Bertolt Brecht, who would become Eisler's most important collaborator throughout his life.

With the Nazi’s rise to power in the 1930s, Eisler and Brecht were forced to flee Europe and eventually emigrated to the United States, finally settling in southern California. While writing for Hollywood films, Eisler and Brecht also collaborated on many art songs—yet still filled with political and social commentary. Unfortunately, Eisler's past came to haunt him when the U.S. House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) questioned him about joining the Communist Party (either in Germany or the U.S.A.). Even though the committee's accusations could not be proven, Eisler became the first victim of the Hollywood "blacklist" and was forced to leave the U.S. in 1948. Eisler moved to East Germany, where he continued to write—including writing the newly founded country's national anthem. Unfortunately, Eisler's dream of East Germany as a socialist paradise dissolved as he came to see the greed and abuses of those in power.

It is only in recent years that Eisler’s music has begun to find an audience again in the United States. Whether its previous absence was due to prejudices or just plain lack of knowledge, it now appears that his music can be heard and appreciated once again.

Download the concert program in pdf format

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