Landscape and Liberation

Holger Schulze:
Landscape and Liberation.
Heiner Goebbels’ Eislerian Heiner Müller

International Conference
Neue Sachlichkeit, Political Music, or Vernacular Avantgarde?
Organized by the Internationale Hanns Eisler Gesellschaft, the Department of Arts and Cultural Studies, University of Copenhagen and The Royal Library, Copenhagen.


Det Kongelige Bibliotek
Den Sorte Diamant
Søren Kierkegaards Plads 1
DK 1221-København




Neue Sachlichkeit, Political Music, or Vernacular Avantgarde?


The work of composer, director and sound artist Heiner Goebbels (*1952) – coming from leftist avantgarde brass bands of the 1970s (“Linksradikales Blasorchester”) – was heavily influenced by the aesthetic and political approach of Hanns Eisler; the interpenetration of aesthetic practice, political action and popular artforms which is characteristic for Eisler’s work is, mutatis mutandis, present on various levels of Goebbels’ work. This talk will explore by the example of selected interpretations of texts by German poet and playwright Heiner Müller (1929-1995) which strategies following Eisler Goebbels applied to turn these rather incommensurable and erratic texts into entertaining elements of radiophonic sound pieces as well as pieces of music theater. Works such as “Verkommenes Ufer” (1984), “Der Mann im Fahrstuhl” (1987), or “Shadow (1990/93) as well as “Die Befreiung des Prometheus” (1985/91), “Wolokolamsker Chaussee I-V” (1989), and “Befreiung” (1989 after a text by Rainald Goetz) are the core examples of this early group of works by Goebbels. Two major concepts of interpretation, juxtaposition, remix and staging will be presented: once the concept of Landscape/Landschaft which serves for Goebbels as a genre description and an aesthetic programme at the same time – and second the concept of Liberation/Befreiung with which Goebbels’ approaches a social and a political programme in music and sound. In what aspects these two concepts can be traced back to the works and the aesthetic programme of Hanns Eisler will be discussed.