The US-American Perception of Music from the GDR (German Democratic Republic): Case Studies on Hanns Eisler (1898-1962), Paul Dessau (1894-1979), and Kurt Schwaen (1909-2007)




Puett, Amy M.

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American reception studies of music from the GDR (German Democratic Republic) have posited a focus on Hanns Eisler (1898-1962) and Cold War ideology. Joy Calico's and Margaret Jackson's writings on Eisler have focused on his absence from American musicology in regards to a Cold War ideology through a discussion of the House Un-American Activities Committee (House Committee Un-American Activities or HUAC) and his being a communist (Calico 1998 and Jackson 2003). Calico's writing in 2003 does re-examine the claim that Eisler is not taken seriously because of Cold War ideology by labeling him a "Marxist Polyglot", stating that his many styles make it hard for musicologists to categorize (Calico 2009). However, in these articles she still focuses on Eisler, when some of her conclusions on Eisler's lack of reception in the American musical consciousness are now somewhat out-dated Since these papers have been published, Eisler has become a considerable focus in scholarly writing, as my research will suggest. While Calico's and Jackson's writings may have unearthed some reasons as to why Eisler might have been lacking in American music scholarship for some period of time, their research does not group Eisler with other East German composers who have to some degree remained excluded from American musicological studies and concert repertoire. Through interviews with East German musicians and empirical studies on concert repertoire and college curricula in U.S universities, I will argue other East German musicians - specifically Paul Dessau (1894-1979) and Kurt Schwaen (1909-2007) - are widely disregarded in American musicology and concert repertoire. The first chapter will give an overview of scholarly literature cited in this thesis. The second chapter will give a brief overview of anti-communist and anti-socialist sentiments that developed during the McCarthy Era, and the third chapter will give an overview of the development of the musical culture during the GDR The fourth chapter will give biographical sketches of Hanns Eisler, Kurt Schwaen, and Paul Dessau, and the fifth chapter will discuss empirical studies and interviews conducted for this thesis.



music, public opinion


Puett, A. M. (2009). The US-American perception of music from the GDR (German Democratic Republic): Case studies on Hanns Eisler (1898-1962), Paul Dessau (1894-1979), and Kurt Schwaen (1909-2007) (Unpublished thesis). Texas State University-San Marcos, San Marcos, Texas.


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