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Returning to Vienna after Austria's defeat, he studied from to under Arnold Schoenberg. Eisler was the first of Schoenberg's disciples to compose in the twelve-tone or serial technique. He married Charlotte Demant in ; they separated in In , he moved to Berlin—then a hothouse of experimentation in music, theater, film, art and politics.
There he became an active supporter of the Communist Party of Germany and became involved with the November Group. In , he taught at the Marxist Workers' School in Berlin and his son Georg Eisler , who would grow up to become an important painter, was born. His music became increasingly oriented towards political themes and, to Schoenberg's dismay, more "popular" in style with influences drawn from jazz and cabaret.
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At the same time, he drew close to Bertolt Brecht , whose own turn towards Marxism happened at about the same time. The collaboration between the two artists lasted for the rest of Brecht's life. In , Eisler composed the song cycle Zeitungsausschnitte , Op. The work is dedicated to Margot Hinnenberg-Lefebre. The cycle parodies a newspaper's layout and content, with the songs comprising it given titles similar to headlines. Its content reflects Eisler's socialist leanings, with lyrics memorializing the struggles of ordinary Germans subject to post—World War I hardships.
They also collaborated on protest songs that celebrated, and contributed to, the political turmoil of Weimar Germany in the early s. Their Solidarity Song became a popular militant anthem sung in street protests and public meetings throughout Europe, and their Ballad of Paragraph was the world's first song protesting laws against abortion.
Brecht-Eisler songs of this period tended to look at life from "below"—from the perspective of prostitutes, hustlers, the unemployed and the working poor. In —32 he collaborated with Brecht and director Slatan Dudow on the working-class film Kuhle Wampe. After , Eisler's music and Brecht's poetry were banned by the Nazi Party.
Both artists went into exile. He made two visits to the US, with speaking tours from coast to coast. In , Eisler finally managed to emigrate to the United States with a permanent visa. In , he moved to Los Angeles where he joined Brecht, who had arrived in California in after a long trip eastward from Denmark across the Soviet Union and the Pacific Ocean.
In the U. This work resulted in the book Composing for the Films which was published in , with Theodor W. Adorno as co-author. In several chamber and choral compositions of this period, Eisler returned to the twelve-tone method he had abandoned in Berlin. His Fourteen Ways of Describing the Rain — composed for Arnold Schoenberg 's 70th birthday celebration — is considered a masterpiece of the genre.
Eisler's works of the s and s included Deutsche Sinfonie —57 —a choral symphony in eleven movements based on poems by Brecht and Ignazio Silone  —and a cycle of art songs published as the Hollywood Songbook — Eisler's promising career in the U. He was one of the first artists placed on the Hollywood blacklist by the film studio bosses.
In two interrogations by the House Committee on Un-American Activities ,    the composer was accused of being "the Karl Marx of music" and the chief Soviet agent in Hollywood. Among his accusers was his sister Ruth Fischer , who also testified before the Committee that her other brother, Gerhart, was a Communist agent.
The Communist press denounced her as a "German Trotskyite. Eisler's supporters—including his friend Charlie Chaplin and the composers Igor Stravinsky , Aaron Copland  and Leonard Bernstein —organized benefit concerts to raise money for his defense fund, but he was deported early in Folksinger Woody Guthrie protested the composer's deportation in his lyrics for "Eisler on the Go"—recorded fifty years later by Billy Bragg and Wilco on the Mermaid Avenue album Before he left, he read the following statement:.
I leave this country not without bitterness and infuriation. I could well understand it when in the Hitler bandits put a price on my head and drove me out. They were the evil of the period; I was proud at being driven out. But I feel heartbroken over being driven out of this beautiful country in this ridiculous way. Eisler returned to Austria, and later moved to East Berlin.
Back in Germany, he composed the national anthem of the German Democratic Republic , a cycle of cabaret -style songs to satirical poems by Kurt Tucholsky and incidental music for theater, films, television and party celebrations. His most ambitious project of the period was the opera Johannes Faustus on the Faust theme.
The libretto, written by Eisler himself, was published in the fall of It portrayed Faust as an indecisive man who betrayed the cause of the working class by not joining the German Peasants' War. In May , Eisler's libretto was attacked by a major article in Neues Deutschland , the SED organ,  which disapproved of the negative depiction of Faust as a renegade and accused the work of being "a slap in the face of German national feeling" and of having "formalistically deformed one of the greatest works of our German poet Goethe" Ulbricht.
Eisler's opera project was discussed in three of the bi-weekly meetings "Mittwochsgesellschaft" [Wednesday club] of a circle of intellectuals under the auspices of the Berlin Academy of Arts beginning on 13 May The last of these meetings took place on Wednesday, 10 June A week later, the workers' rebellion of 17 June pushed those debates from the agenda. Eisler fell into a depressive mood, and did not write the music for the opera.
Although he continued to work as a composer and to teach at the East Berlin conservatory , the gap between Eisler and the cultural functionaries of East Germany grew wider in the last decade of his life. During this period, he befriended musician Wolf Biermann and tried to promote him  but in , Biermann would be stripped of his GDR citizenship while on concert tour in West Germany. Eisler collaborated with Brecht until the latter's death in He never recovered completely from his friend's demise, and his remaining years were marred by depression and declining health.
For more information and tickets visit Broadway in Chicago Beautiful. Chinese Princess, Turandot, has proffered a challenge to all eligible Princes, that he who can successfully answer three riddles asked by her shall win her love. Unsuccessful suitors will forfeit their life by beheading at sunrise. The bigger question is whether Turandot is actually interested in love or is she more interested in exacting revenge on all men for the death of her ancestor Princess Lo-u-Ling? Enter Prince Calaf, a stranger who is immediately smitten by Turandot.
He cannot resist the challenge in spite of the pleading of the Ping, Pang and Pong whose duty it is to prepare all matters related to either the execution or the wedding. Weary of the many deaths, the trio attempts to lure Calaf with the promise of hundreds of other beautiful women but to no avail.
The large lighted glass sphere center stage adds to the exotic illusion of the intersection of heaven and earth as well as the theme of hot and cold. The use of wood, moonlight and lantern-light combined with the muted tones of the costumes contributes to a feeling of a mythological ancient Chinese experience with an overarching sense of foreboding. Soprano Amber Wagner who appears in the title role has a powerful voice that soars above the entire company providing the character of Turandot with a commanding vocal presence the role requires.
Stefano La Colla as Calaf in his Lyric debut is charming though he never really commands the stage. In Act One he was lost in the crowd and at times he seemed unsure where he should be. Also appearing in her Lyric debut is soprano Maria Agresta as Liu who offers what is perhaps the most dramatic performance.
This is due in large part to the sympathetic nature of the role itself but also to her sensitive portrayal and beautiful voice. The Lyric chorus and orchestra are outstanding as always. This really gives the orchestra an opportunity to shine because they are as important as the singers not simply accompanists. It is cleverly reprised for the finale leaving the production with a powerful musical finish and the audience with a tune we can all hum on the way out the door. The story has a few moral and ethnocentric issues that may be considered to be in conflict with modern sensibilities.
This can be a distraction for some but consider using it as an opportunity for thoughtful contemplation and discussion of social change while you simply enjoy the music and the shear spectacle of a grand tradition. Wacker Dr. For tickets and more information visit Lyric Opera. Its gorgeous, lyrical strains are delightfully repeated at the end of the opera.
If she breaks her vow she could die and so would the man she loved. The orchestra led by Andrew Davis and the chorus under Michael Black were both superb. The only problem I had with the production were the dance scenes.
They may be true to the culture but they detract from rather than add to the opera. Running time: 2 hours, 25 minutes with one intermission. The production, seen on Nov. Many themes in the arts have universal relevance. People from villages, cities, and countries all over the world can identify with this modern opera composed by Gian Carlo Menotti. Based on immigrants and political refugees, the opera takes place in an anonymous totalitarian country.
Menotti also garnered a Pulitzer Prize. The brilliant voices and beautiful music conducted by Kristof van Grysperre are what increases the emotional depth of this exceptional story. After both her child and mother-in-law pass away, Magda cannot bear to imagine any additional losses, as she descends into a morose state of depression. Michigan Ave. For tickets and more information, call or visit Chicago Opera Theater. Short story theatres are trending now in the Chicago area. See StorySlam. Highwood, a tiny city between Highland Park and Lake Forest known for its restaurants, also hosts short story telling.
Its next time is Oct. Stories are likely to be about lost wives, geese, road trips or angels. So come to Miramar Bistro at Waukegan Ave.
Or come earlier and eat there first. Just tell them when making a reservation that you are staying for the Short Story Theatre. Phone Hand-carved pumpkins line the paths Oct. Tickets are date and time specific so get yours before you go to avoid disappointment. Times are from to p. For tickets and other information call or visit CBGHalloween. For tickets visit BroadwayinChicago. For tickets and other information visit Broadway Rock. For tickets and other information visit Lyric Opera. Visit more than restaurants and other businesses in Lincoln Square for the semi-annual Ravenswood Wine Stroll.
For tickets and route information see Lincoln Square Wine Stroll. For ticket and other information visit Winnetka Show. Go upstairs to the Festival Hall to see what the international galleries say are trending now in the art world. For tickets and other information visit SOFA. However, opening night, Oct. Melodrama might be a better description but then, many operatic themes fit that category.