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Bertolt Brecht's Striving for Reason, Even in Music

A Critical Assessment


Michael John T. Gilbert

Not long after Bertolt Brecht's death in 1956, his musical collaborator of many years, Hanns Eisler, characterized Brecht's attitude toward music with a mixture of admiration and skepticism as «dieses Streben Brechts nach Vernunft auch in der Musik.» In this comprehensive, chronologically-arranged study of Brecht's involvement with music, the origins and implications of the writer's quest for «rationality, even in music» are systematically examined. Particular attention is given to the pertinent critical writings of both Brecht and his major musical collaborators Kurt Weill, Hanns Eisler and Paul Dessau as a framework for examining Brecht's multifaceted relationship to music. Finally, the book offers a critical assessment of Brecht's views on music as well as the nature and extent of his influence on 20th century musical aesthetics.
Contents: Bertolt Brecht, 1898-1956: writings and views on music, collaboration with composers and musicians (Kurt Weill, Paul Hindemith, Hanns Eisler, Franz Bruinier, Edmund Meisel, and others), influence on 20th century musical aesthetics.