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Title:The dramaturgical integration of text and music in Brecht's "Schweyk im zweiten Weltkrieg"
Author(s):Gerdemen-Klein, Ellen R.
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Schoeps, Karl-Heinz
Department / Program:German
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Literature, Germanic
Abstract:This study represents the first comprehensive analysis of the dramaturgical integration of text and music in Bertolt Brecht's anti-Fascist play, Schweyk im zweiten Weltkrieg. Among the eight plays and over 150 Lieder on which Brecht and Hanns Eisler collaborated in their 28-year partnership, Schweyk is an ideological and artistic landmark. In it, Brecht's song texts and Eisler's music serve multiple socially-critical functions. While the song texts provide a means for the "little man" to counter the threat of totalitarianism, the versatile score uses ironical, incongruous, and unexpected musical effects to reinforce the political implications of the words, often adding Eisler's own critical perspective to the action on stage.
The topic is approached from three perspectives. First, the ideological function of music throughout history is examined in order to put Brecht's and Eisler's innovative musical techniques for epic theater in perspective.
Secondly, musical links between Schweyk and its literary and dramatical predecessors are examined. The play was based on Jaroslav Ha$\breve {\rm s}$ek's bestselling novel about the misadventures of an ambivalent Czech soldier in World War I and was further influenced by three German dramatizations based on Ha$\breve {\rm s}$ek's novel: a 1927 farce by Max Brod and Hans Reimann, a 1928 stage adaption at Erwin Piscator's Theater am Nollendorfplatz on which Brecht himself collaborated, and a film expose written by Piscator in 1937. Significantly, Schweyk is the only play Brecht adapted from a production on Piscator's "epic" stage. While the works share a number of thematic and musical parallels, Brecht's dramaturgical and political use of song texts goes far beyond anything previously done.
Thirdly, Eisler's music to Schweyk is analyzed in detail. Called by the composer "die wichtigste aller Musiken zu den Stucken von Brecht," the extensive score encompasses a variety of styles including operatic parody, folk songs, and instrumental intermezzi. Striking harmonic and melodic effects provide vital commentary to the action on stage, often adding a new, unexpected dimension to Brecht's dramaturgy.
The play, which has enjoyed international acclaim for decades, serves as a unequivocal statement against the abuses of totalitarianism. Aesthetically and politically, it demonstrates the remarkable potential of the combined arts.
Issue Date:1995
Rights Information:Copyright 1995 Gerdemen-Klein, Ellen R.
Date Available in IDEALS:2011-05-07
Identifier in Online Catalog:AAI9522110
OCLC Identifier:(UMI)AAI9522110

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