|dc.description.abstract||This study focuses on Bertolt Brecht`s use of music in his epic theatre. After looking at
his objectives against the background of his times, certain key aspects of his dramatic
theory and practice in general are discussed e.g. its epic nature, Verfremdung, Gestus and
his social engagement. This is important for an understanding of his functional use of
music as an important element in his productions.
Music as a sign system in drama is discussed with special reference to the genres in
which music plays an essential role, viz. opera, in particular Wagner`s Gesamtkunstwerk
and, most importantly, cabaret. The focus is on Brecht`s reaction against and point of
connection with, each of these genres.
The second part of the study focuses on the role of music in the practice of Brecht`s
theatre. Naturally the specific composers with whom Brecht worked and specific productions are discussed. The relevant productions discussed are Aufstieg und Fall der Stadt Mahagonny (1930), Die Dreigroshenoper (1931) and Mutter Courage und Ihre
Brecht worked against a background of social, political and economic upheaval. His art
aimed at making people aware of unjustified social circumstances and inspiring them to
engage in the task of changing these circumstances. For him this entailed communicating
in a fresh way with words which had lost their meaning because of ideological abuse.
For this purpose he made use of music in a very specific way. He tried – not always successfully – to avoid using music as an ornamental narcotic. This implied that music was always meant to serve the intention of the text, the Gestus.
Music in Brecht`s theatre was dramatic not incidental, functional not ornamental, and
music not as a means of escapism, but as an inspiration. The music, like all the other
elements in his theatre, had to stimulate critical thinking and had to be of social use in
order for it to be considered functional. The “great struggle for supremacy between
music, text and production”, to which Brecht so often referred, complicated his goal of
functionality and it was no easy task to marry his dialectical ideas. This caused for
certain discrepancies between his theory and practice and I will take that into consideration in this study.||en_ZA