Craig Randal Johnson plays and presents Hanns Eisler

The Hanns Eisler Project presents the music of one of central Europe's leading 20th century composers, a composer who also spent many years in the United States.
About Hanns Eisler

Arguably one of the greatest composers of the twentieth century, the German composer Hanns Eisler (b. 1898, Leipzig) is almost totally forgotten in the United States, a consequence of his left-wing political views and affiliations, and of his philosophy that music has a distinct social function. Eisler, schooled by Arnold Schönberg and a long term collaborator with Bertolt Brecht, composed chamber music, stage and film music, choral works, and above all, Lieder and "workers" songs. Eisler, leaving Europe ahead of the Nazi march, lived and worked in the United States from 1938 to 1948, writing much of his best music in this country. He became an early target of what became the Hollywood "witch hunt," appearing before the House Subcommittee for Un-American Activities in September 1947. Eisler was forced to leave the United States for life.

From 1949 to his death in 1962, Eisler was a leading musical figure in East Germany. His workers songs from the late 1920s made a sort of comeback in West Germany during the student revolution of 1968, though unofficially Eisler was "personen non gratis" in West Germany. In 1994 the Hanns Eisler Gesellschaft was founded in Germany to further the music of Hanns Eisler, and ensure that more of his music is published and made available. The most important music conservatory in Berlin still carries his name, the Hochschule für Musik Hanns Eisler.

First writing in the dodecaphonic style of the Second Vienesse School, Eisler early on abandoned 12-tone orthodoxy, composing music serviceable for workers' choruses and above all the stage theater. The stage and "workers" music is rhythmically strong, and the text is always meant to be clearly heard and understood. Later during his exile period in particular, Eisler returned to 12-tone procedures, using them when it suited him. Eisler's style thus becomes difficult to categorize. His stamp is unmistakable, be his work a theater song, serious song, film music or chamber work, be his harmonic language "tonal" or "atonal," or a blend of both.          - - -  Craig Randal Johnson


Past Performances:

Burning and Never Going Cold: The Music of Hanns Eisler
David Jordan Harris, baritone/ Craig Randal Johnson, pianist

Gallery 205, Landmark Center/ St. Paul, MN
November 16, 2006
Presented by the Schubert Club and Traces Center for History and Culture


Burning and Never Going Cold: The Music of Hanns Eisler
David Jordan Harris, baritone/  Craig Randal Johnson, pianist

Gustavus Adolphus College/ St. Peter MN
Bjorling Recital Hall
January 10, 2006

Presented by the Hillstrom Museum of Art, Music Department, and Department of Modern Languages,         Literatures, and Cultures.    In conjunction with the exhibition: Almost Home: The Return of Holocaust     Survivors and Resisters to Postwar Vienna, an installation by Nancy Ann Coyne.


Hanns Eisler Centenary Gala

West Park West Park Chamber Society
September 26, 1998
New York City

Craig Johnson performed:
    * Eisler:  Piano Sonata No. 1
    * Eisler:  Violin Sonata (Reise), Ashley Horne, violinist


Songs of Hanns Eisler on WNYC in New York

WNYC Broadcast "Spinning on Air"
New York City
September 19 and 26, 1995

With dramatist Eric Bentley, baritone David Harris, and host David Garland. Translations by Eric Bentley. Songs to texts by Brecht, Hölderlin, Anakreon, Goethe, Peter Altenberg, Pascal, and Eisler.


To Those Who Come After: The Voice of Bertolt Brecht
An Evening of Music-Theater

Conceived by David Harris in collaboration with Eric Bentley. Featuring Manon Gimlett, David Harris, and Craig Johnson.
    Southern Theater, Minneapolis MN                                        September 1998
    Carleton College, Northfield MN                                             May 1998
    Minnesota Arts High School, Golden Valley MN                 October 1997
    Illusion Theatre Fresh Ink Series, Minneapolis MN            July 1997

Burning and Never Going Cold:
Theater Songs and Lieder of Brecht, Eisler, Weill and Wolpe

The University of Wisconsin/ Madison WI
November 21, 1996
Sponsored by the Department of German


Wintersalon in Hannover: Hanns Eisler

Hannover, Germany
26. November 1993

Craig Johnson performed the following Eisler compositions:

     “Variations for Piano” 1941
     Songs (Hilkea Kuck, Soprano)

Schweyk im zweiten Weltkrieg
/ Schweyk in World War II
        By Bertolt Brecht / Music by Hanns Eisler
        Stage Direction: Goswin Moniac

Städtische Bühnen Osnabrück
Osnabrück, Germany
Winter and Spring 1983

Craig Johnson was music director and conductor for 25 performances of this large, main-stage production.
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Performances of Eisler "Piano Sonata No. 1" (1923)

    November 2006/ Landmark Center, St. Paul MN
    January 2006/ Gustavus Adolphus College, St. Peter MN
                (First Movement)
    November 1999/ Hartt School of Music, Hartford CT
    October 1999/ Illinois Wesleyan University, Bloomington IL
    September 1999/ Southeastern Louisiana University, Hammond LA
    March 1999/ Piano, Pulla, & Pre-Pääsiäisaamun and Pleasantries, Los Angeles CA
    September 1998/ Eisler Gala Centeneray Concert, West Park Chamber Series, New York, NY
    March 1996/ Center for New Music, University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA


Performances of Eisler “Variations for Piano” (1941)

     November 2004/ Southwest State University, Marshall MN
     September 2004/ The Hartt School, Hartford CT
     March 1998 / Helsinki, Finland
     October 1995 / The Hartt School, Hartford CT
     May 1995 / Illinois Wesleyan University, Bloomington IL
     February 1994 / Landmark Center, St. Paul MN
     November 1993 / Wintersalon in Hannover, Germany