Socialist realism was the main aesthetic doctrine and cultural policy of the socialist countries. Drawing on a cultural approach, Golan Gur explores the implications of this doctrine to music aesthetics in the GDR in view of the political experiences and convictions of Hanns Eisler and other émigré composers and musical thinkers.
Located geographically and politically on the border of the East-West Cold-War divide, the musical culture of the GDR was quite distinct without, however, being entirely unaffected by developments in West Germany and Soviet Russia. While Western European and American post-war avant-garde composers were writing the most complex and opaque scores in the history of western music, leading GDR composers and theorists were insisting that a truly progressive art must preserve its ties to socialist realism in order to be widely understood. But what does “socialism” or “realism” actually mean with regard to music? How is the “reality” of “realism” to be defined—and by whom? And, finally, is there a specific musical reality as opposed to a historical-empirical one? Golan Gur explores in his lecture this set of questions, concentrating on the relationship between music aesthetics and political thought in the work of émigré composers and thinkers who returned to the new East German state after 1945, in particular Hanns Eisler’s.
Golan Gur is a musicologist specializing in the aesthetics and cultural history of music. He completed his doctoral studies in Music Sociology and the Social History of Music at the Humboldt University of Berlin. He has served as a Newton International Fellow at the University of Cambridge and as a Research Fellow of the University of Pennsylvania’s Herbert D. Katz Center. Currently he is IFK_Research Fellow.