Hanns Eisler: Abortion is Illegal

Written by Rebecca Jo Loeb


In category: Song of the Day

Published September 17, 2018

For this week, and for a plethora of reasons mostly having to do with coincidence, I’m going to be choosing songs with either political undertones, blatant overtones, or ones that have particular political messages that speak to me.

For my first song I’d love you to listen to “Abortion Is Illegal by Hanns Eisler/Brecht. For me it is shocking that this was written in the 1930s, not because it was necessarily so ahead of its time, but because it could have been written today as well. Aside from the lyrics that point to needing to have children as literal tools of war (and, admittedly, this is a big part of the song), to me this could easily be performed on a cabaret program today and someone might assume it was written in the last decade or two.

The music, though not everyone’s cup of tea, I feel suits the text. It is not beautiful, but neither is the message, and the music plays into the different characters that the singer must portray. I love this singer’s particular interpretation because she understands the narrative quality of the piece as well as the subtle humor woven into the setting. She speaks the text when she pleases which is appropriate to the Weimar Era cabaret style (a particular favorite of mine) and keeps the text at the forefront of our mind, which I believe is the point.

select author’s name to read all of their posts

Based in Germany, American mezzo-soprano Rebecca Jo Loeb sings regularly with Deutsche Oper Berlin and across Europe. In addition to her operatic repertoire, Becca Jo specializes in the music of Kurt Weill. Becca Jo returns to NYFOS in our tour performances of Arias and Barcarolles and other Bernstein Songs in Boston and New Hampshire this month.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *