Hanns Eisler (1898-1962): a soldier during World War I, fled Germany to reach Los Angeles via Paris and London. In 1948, he was deported from the United States, and then in East Berlin, Eisler was once again tried on suspicion of having incorrect motives. Cut off from his roots, searching for the meaning (or meaninglessness) of existence, he set Brecht’s words to music in an incomparable way. In his songs, you can hear the sense of displacement and his longing for a better world. Listen to ‘An eine Stadt’ with lyrics by Friedrich Hölderlin here.

Eisler’s songs are written for voice and piano. Some have arrangements for strings composed by Eisler himself. We have created a new arrangement for a Baroque orchestra. Is that appropriate? Is it allowed? Eisler and Baroque?

Lange lieb’ ich dich schon, möchte dich, mir zur Lust
Mutter nennen, und dir schenken ein kunstloses Lied, dir der Vaterlandsstädte ländlichschönste, so viel ich sah.
Wie der Vogel des Wald’s über die Gipfel fliegt, schwingt sich über den Strom, wo er vorbei dir glänzt, leicht und kräftig die Brükke, die von Wagen und Menschen tönt.
Da ich vorüber ging, fesselt’ der Zauber auch mich, da herein in die Berge mir die reizende Ferne schien.
Du hast dem Flüchtigen kühlenden Schatten geschenkt und die Gestade sahen ihm alle nach und es tönte aus den Wellen das liebliche Bild.
Sträuche blühten herab, bis wo im heiteren Tal
An den Hügel gelehnt oder dem Ufer hold,
Deine fröhlichen Gassen
Unter duftenden Gärten ruhn.

Long have I loved you, ardently wishing to call you Mother,
And to sing a pure song to you, o beloved city, loveliest situated in my land.
Like a bird soaring over mountain peaks, a bridge stretches over the shimmering river,
Radiant and strong, resounding with the sounds of carriages and people.
When I would pass by, the enchanting power also held me captive,
Where the alluring distance sparkled back at me from the mountains.
You have granted the light-footed, cool shade; The banks gazed anxiously, and how lovely their reflection appears in the water.
Bushes bloomed, bent down to the peaceful valley, Leaning against the slope or toward the water, The bustle of your streets resting beneath fragrant gardens.

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