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date: 21 September 2021

Abstract and Keywords

When Austrian composer and committed Marxist Hanns Eisler was forced out of the United States in 1948, he returned to Vienna and hoped to settle there. Instead, a commission for Goethe’s bicentennial celebration the following year drew him to East Berlin and the SBZ (Soviet Occupation Zone), soon to be the German Democratic Republic (GDR, or East Germany), and set him on the path to be that country’s most prominent composer. This chapter examines the piece Eisler wrote for that commission, Rhapsodie für großes Orchester (Rhapsody for large orchestra) (1949), which set text from Goethe’s Faust II, as well as his libretto for a proposed opera entitled Johann Faustus. East German reception of these pieces reveals the centrality of Goethe’s Faust for national identity formation in the fledgling GDR.

Keywords: Faust, Goethe, Hanns Eisler, Rhapsodie für großes Orchester, Johann Faustus, German Democratic Republic

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