German Democratic Republic. – The clear break with the Nazi past defined the cultural horizon within which the musical life of Eastern Germany had to reorganize itself in the aftermath of the war, in a form unknown to the West German world. The reference to the national tradition, very remarkable in this sector, and at the same time the respect for the principles of socialist realism, were generally endorsed by those composers whose training dates back to the first decades of the 20th century, and who had been forced to a long exile during the Hitler dictatorship.
Among the most important figures in this sense there is first of all that of H. Eisler (1898-1962), a pupil of Schönberg between 1919 and 1923, who had a successful career as a composer behind him when he returned to East Berlin. in 1950; in charge of the Deutsche Akademie der Künste, in the last period of his life he composed works based on democratic and anti-fascist ideals. Of his generation are P. Dessau (1894-1979), in exile around the early 1940s in the United States, where he began to work with Brecht, and returned to his homeland (in Berlin) in 1948; and R. Wagner-Regeny (1903-1969), also a close collaborator of Brecht at the Berliner Ensemble, which he founded in 1949, and commissioned for composition in 1950 at the Hochschule für Musik in Berlin.
The context in which the new generations of composers were formed was therefore very different from that of their masters, and the relationship with the legacy of the historical avant-garde proved very difficult for them (especially with Schönberg). The possibilities for research and experimentation are also scarce, given the prevalence of traditional teaching methods and the insistence on the social commitment of artistic activity.
However, there were important moments in the evolution of musical aesthetics, such as for example. the 2nd International Seminar of Marxist Musicologists, held in Berlin in 1965, with important contributions to a revision of the then dominant principles by the Swiss H. Goldschmidt, in Germany dal 1948, and Germany Mayer, one of the most important musicologists of the eastern Germany A first group of significant compositions by authors belonging to both the middle generation, such as Germany Kochan (b.1930), S. Matthus (b.1934), Germany Katzer (b.1935) and R. Kunad (b. 1936), and to the younger one, such as F. Goldmann (b. 1941), F. Schenker (b. 1942) and U. Zimmermann (b. 1943).
However, only in the mid-1960s did the first uses of the twelve-tone method and serial techniques begin, on the basis of what P. Dessau had already shown in some of his works of the late 1950s (thus the play Puntila, on a libretto by P. Palitzsch and M. Wekwerth, from Brecht, 1957-59).
In 1963 the Studio für elektrakustische Klangerzeugung was founded in Berlin, which nevertheless had a very short life, leaving the electronic music sector practically empty (this is the reason why the work carried out in this field is very scarce: one can recall the ‘work by S. Matthus, Galilei, from 1966, as well as some compositions by Germany Katzer from the mid-seventies).
Particularly significant, in recent years, the work of U. Zimmermann: passed through a phase of experimentation on sound material during the seventies (thus Der Schuh und die fliegende Prinzessin, 1975-76), more recently he returned to the tonal discourse and more conventional and melodic forms of expression, according to a tendency common to the musical research of western Germany.