Eislermaterial

Scenisch concert / Concert scénique / Staged concert

Théâtre National

5, 6 Mei/Mai/May 20:15
7 Mei/Mai/May 15:00
Duur/Durée/Duration: 1:05
Belgische première/Première belge/Belgian première

Heiner Goebbels is that rare combination: an independent composer and an accomplished director. Why does he combine the two? Because, as he sees it, "experiencing other art forms enriches music". Working with writer Heiner Müller, his taste for expression through art forms came from his admiration for Hanns Eisler (1898-1962). The East German composer worked closely with Bertolt Brecht, setting his plays and poetry to music. Heiner Müller is now considered to be Brecht's spiritual heir. Eislermaterial is the tender and ironic staged concert dedicated by Goebbels to Eisler. It pays homage to a man who was a talented composer and vehemently involved in the times in which he lived. It is a vibrant and intimate homage.

Muziek en regie/Musique et mise en scène/Music and direction: Heiner Goebbels

Scenografie en licht/Scénographie et lumières/Scenography and lighting: Jean Kalman
Acteur/Actor: Josef Bierbichler
Orkest/Orchestre/Orchestra:
Ensemble Modern
Dietmar Wiesner: Blokfluit/Flûte/Flute
Catherine Milliken: Hobo/Hautbois/Oboe
Roland Diry: Klarinet/Clarinette/Clarinet
Wolfgang Styri: Bas klarinet, Saxofoon/Clarinette Basse, saxophone/ Bas Clarinet, Saxophone
Veit Scholz: Fagot/Basson/Bassoon
Franck Ollu: Hoorn, Tuba, Trompet/Cor, Tuba, Trompette/Horn, Tuba, Trumpet
William Forman: Trompet, Hoorn/Trompette, Cornet/ Trumpet, Horn
Uwe Dierksen: Trombone, Eufonium, Helicon/Trombone, Euphonium, Hélicon/Trombone, Euphonium, Helicon
Rainer Römer: Percussie/Percussion
Hermann Kretzschmar: Piano, Harmonium
Ueli Wiget: Piano, Sampler
Jagdish Mistry: Viool/Violon/Violin
Susan Knight : Altviool/Alto/Viola
Michael M. Kasper: Cello/Violoncelle
Thomas Fichtner: Contrabas, basgitaar/Contrebasse, guitare bass/Double-bass, bass guitar

Repetitor/Répétiteur/Rehearsal director: Peter Rundel
Geluidsregie/Régisseur son/Sound director: Norbert Ommer
Regieassistent/Assistant à la mise en scène/Assistant to the director: Stephan Buchberger
Lichtregie/Régie lumières/Light director: Barbara Hammer, Frank Kraus

Dank aan/Remerciements à/Special thanks to: Breitkopf & Härtel Music Publishers voor het ter beschikking stellen van 50 rode boeken/d'avoir mis à disposition 50 livres rouges/for their supply of 50 red books
In opdracht van/Sur commande de/Commissioned by: musica viva München
Productie/Production: musica viva München/Bayerischer Rundfunk, Hebbel-Theater Berlin, Dresdner Zentrum für zeitgenössische Musik
Sponsoring/Funding: Cultural Foundation Deutsche Bank Group
Presentatie/Présentation/Presentation: Théâtre National de la Communauté Wallonie-Bruxelles, KunstenFESTIVALdesArts

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Vienna, spring 1923. Arnold Schönberg, professor of composition, starts off the musical career of one of his most devoted followers. With Alban Berg and Anton Webern, Hanns Eisler is amongst his most brilliant students. From now on, Eisler's experience will be based on an intimate knowledge of classical and contemporary music. Immersed in dodecaphonics and serial music, he masters Bach, Stravinsky, Bartók and Debussy. He is also one of the master's more unmanageable successors. "Composing can only be something for elegant gentleman who satisfy the aesthetic needs of the great bourgeoisie", he thinks. At the age of 16 he was sent to the frontline in the war. "I wasn't looking to get involved in politics - politics brutally entered my life." Eisler loses patience. "Music has isolated itself and doesn't pay enough attention to the contradictions of the era ." His era is to crash into him at full force.

Berlin, 1926. A fierce social struggle is raging, there is massive unemployment and unprecedented brutality in the exploitation of the working class. Eisler has left the intellectual circles of Vienna and fallen out dramatically with his former teacher. Rebelling against Schönberg's apolitical stance, Eisler seeks not to change the technique but the ‘function' of music in society. He is indignant and believes in solidarity. With disgust he watches the Weimar Republic flourish, its capitalism built on the bloody suppression of workers' revolts. In 1929, the New York stock market crashes. Eisler becomes a collaborator of Bertolt Brecht, a fellow Marxist sympathiser, for whom he is to write the music of around one hundred poems and the plays The Mother, Round Heads and Pointed Heads and Galileo. He has found himself a writer, a soulmate who can talk to his contemporaries about their suffering and oppression and encourage their hopes for change. It is all a long way from a sentimental respect for the established order. For Eisler, the text becomes central and the voice essential.

1933, Berlin. The city is being torn apart. Hitler comes to power. A Jew and associated with the Communist party, the composer goes into an exile that is to last for fifteen years. His somewhat damaged convictions remain profound. Fascist Germany signs a non-aggression pact with Moscow, the cradle of the October Revolution. In Hollywood, joining a number of artists who have had to flee Nazism (including Schönberg, with whom he makes his peace, Brecht, Thomas Mann, Greta Garbo, Peter Lorre and Fritz Lang), he becomes the first on the black list of those who were tracked down for having Communist leanings. Despite interventions on his behalf by Albert Einstein and Charlie Chaplin, he has to leave the country in 1948 when the witch-hunt of the McCarthy commission begins. "I heard the men's questions and saw their faces. As an old anti-fascist, I understood that these men represent fascism in its most direct form. But I take with me the image of the real American people whom I love."

Berlin, 1998. Heiner Goebbels, composer, man of the theatre and partner of Heiner Müller - who is considered to be the spiritual heir of Bertolt Brecht - pays homage to Hanns Eisler (1898-1962) with a theatrical concert called Eislermaterial. He brings together fifteen musicians from his Ensemble Modern and lays down one rule - "Look beyond the score, enter Eisler's music as far as you can and make it your own. There is no conductor - everything will rest on you and on listening to one another." Goebbels has always been fascinated by the composer. "I found my two main preoccupations in him - composition and politics". He dedicated his thesis on the sociology of art to him and was inspired by it to form his first ensemble, Fanfare supposedly of the far left. Working with writer Heiner Müller, like Eisler with Brecht, he opens music up to writing for the stage.

"Eisler was an optimistic fighter, yet bound up with his optimism and his struggle were despair and suffering, but without pathos - he hated it. He was amongst the most brilliant polemicists of his day because he stood up to his contradictions by boldly seizing them and forcing them to collide and encourage a creative dynamic. He was a great dialectician. His life teaches us that, his music too. We can learn a lot from him. If I met him today, I would remain silent at first just to listen to him." This is exactly what Goebbels does in this fervent homage. Centre stage are some red books scattered about, a statuette, like an Oscar, to recognise a composer who, for too long, was seen only as the proletarian writer of East Germany's national anthem. With rays of light sweeping the stage, Eisler's face appears in black and white and the music stops, making way for fragments of angry interviews given for radio. In everyday clothes, musicians sit around the rectangle, separated from it by a seat like those you find in the circus ring.

In their midst is Josef Bierbichler, Peter Zadek's favourite actor. Bent over the score, glasses perched on his nose, he watches the lively and fluid music for when to come in. Concentrating hard and alert, this man shares tenderness embellished with respect for the composer's talent, humanity and struggle. The Lieder (eight poems by Brecht and one by Altenberg) he warmly delivers seem to be of modest confidence, constrained emotion or amused complicity. Heiner Goebbels' presence is evident. His arrangements provide a commentary to the musical poems, introducing their contrasts, creating an environment to listen to reminiscences about war and poverty. They exude trust in a man seeking dignity, contain sharp images of Germany and Hollywood and stir the listener with tones of exile.

Like a son acting out of love for his father, Goebbels conducts an intimate dialogue with Eisler. Posthumous it may be, yet it is eminently alive.

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