with an essay by Johannes C. Gall and a DVD ‘Hanns Eislers Rockefeller Film Music Project 1940-1942’, on behalf of the International Hanns Eisler Society, ed. Johannes C. Gall, Frankfurt/Main: Suhrkamp, 2006.
‘Adorno and Eisler’s book, originally published in English in 1947, is a classic exemplar of both music and film theory. It evolved as a joint project in American exile based on two research projects funded by the Rockefeller Foundation: Adorno conducted studies on music on the radio as part of the “Radio Research Project” headed by Paul Lazarsfeld – which would become part of the fragmentary texts comprising the book Current of Music – while Eisler, on his “Film Music Project”, explored the functions, possibilities, and limits of film music. Eisler initially focussed his work less on abstract ideas and analyses in favour of the composition of exemplary film scores and the subsequent production and evaluation of demonstration films. The project’s artistic fruits include the famous quintet Fourteen Ways to Describe Rain, composed as a new and novel form of film music for Joris Ivens’ “cinépoème” Regen, and the soundtracks for White Flood and A Child Went Forth, an early Joseph Losey film. Eisler also composed two experimental film scores for an excerpt from John Ford’s classic The Grapes of Wrath, serving as alternatives to Alfred Newman’s music for the distributors’ version. The DVD that accompanies the book documents these films and film music experiments, partly in original and restored, partly in reconstructed form. The book represents a treasure trove for film buffs and philosophers, musicologists, and cultural historians alike: the wide-ranging “Film Music Project” is now finally available in the form it warrants.
With text passages published for the first time in their original German, a draft of the film music book by Theodor W. Adorno, and a bilingual (German/English) DVD: “Hanns Eisler’s Rockefeller Film Music Project 1940-1942”’
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