What is it about?

Disinformation in the service of political oppression is nothing new, a reality Hanns Eisler discovered all too well during his 1947 skirmish with the United States House on Un-American Activities Committee. “Invited” to leave the USA as a result, he did not go quietly as the late addition to his Hollywooder Liederbuch, the song “Nightmare” makes clear. Considering “Nightmare” in light of the larger Liederbuch (1942-45) discloses a work highlighting and minimizing both past and present. What most matters is the future. In “Nightmare,” the only song of the collection’s forty-seven in English and with a text by Eisler, one hears the “rat men”—members of the House Committee—stridently accusing their interrogatee “of not liking garbage, of not liking their squeals.” Temporarily vanquishing their melee, Eisler breaks through with short-lived albeit striking lyricism, the result a victory for justice, yet one granted only provisionally, for he makes it the responsibility of performers and listeners to actively engage with the challenge his House Committee inquisitors would not: as he states in the song’s text of “considering the question from every angle.”

Featured Image

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: "A Composer Has to Challenge a Text": Hanns Eisler and the Ratmen, Americas A Hemispheric Music Journal, January 2021, Project Muse,
DOI: 10.1353/ame.2021.0003.
You can read the full text:



The following have contributed to this page