Brand, Max(imilian)

(b Lemberg [L'viv], 26 April 1896; d Langenzersdorf, nr Vienna, 5 April 1980). Austrian composer, active in the USA. Following military service during World War I, he became a pupil of Schreker in Vienna (1919) and Berlin (1920); Krenek was a fellow student. He also studied with Alois Haba and came to know Erwin Stein. Initially employed as a teacher in Salzburg, Brand returned in 1924 to Vienna, where he heard a performance of Schoenberg's Wind Quintet, op.26. This inspired him to compose five settings of Else Laske-Schuller's Hebraische Balladen (1913) using the 12-note method. He was the first composer outside of Schoenberg's circle to employ the 12-note technique.

From 1926 to 1927 Brand wrote music for communist cultural productions. The success of his ballet-pantomime Tragodietta was crowned by the triumph of his opera Maschinist Hopkins (1929), a work that, although written out of economic necessity, confirmed Brand as a self-professed 'Theatermensch'. First performed in Duisburg, the opera appeared in 37 other venues and was performed in at least four languages until 1932 when fascism, of which it can be read as a parody, began to take hold. The opera was applauded for its multi-faceted contemporary references and its impassioned blend of Schrekerian lyricism and Neue Sachlichkeit. With its agenda of political confrontation between workers and the authority of human and technological power, Brand's dramatic and sonorous melange of Expressionism and constructivism made comparisons with Fritz Lang's Metropolis, Brecht and Weill's Dreigroschenoper and Krenek's Jonny spielt auf inevitable. The work's popularity with audiences was matched by serious regard from contemporary composers. Its selection as the best operatic work of 1929 by a committee of the Allgemeiner Deutscher Musikverein that included Alban Berg led to its initial production.

In the early 1930s Brand founded the Mimoplastisches Theater fur Ballett, and became co-director of the Wiener Opernproduktion at the Raimundtheater, the first Austrian company to perform (in a condensed version) Brecht and Weill's Aufstieg und Fall der Stadt Mahagonny. He also worked on experimental films in the same studio as Hanns Eisler, writing prize-winning music for Der zerbrochene Krug. Plans for a new work, Requiem, for the Berlin Staatsoper under Karl Bohm, were abandoned in 1933 for political reasons. The well-advanced score was lost in Prague, presumably when Brand, condemned as a Jew, was forced to flee Vienna in 1937. He travelled in 1939 to Brazil, where he worked briefly with Villa-Lobos, before settling in 1940 in the USA, where he became a naturalized citizen.

Brand's American career was characterized by participation in emigre musical life, continued involvement in music theatre, an enduring interest in popular culture and a commitment to electro-acoustic composition. He became co-director of the music and theatre wing of the Caravan of East and West, and was vice-president of the American League of Authors and Composers from Austria. The Gate (1944), a 'scenic oratorio' symbolic of his international perspective as a new American citizen, was given its premiere at the Metropolitan Opera. With Notturno brasileiro (1959), a composition facilitated by one of the first Moog synthesizers, Brand dedicated himself to exploring the musical potential of electronics. The Astronauts: an Epic in Electronics (1961) is a veritable paean to technological achievement incorporating recordings of John Glenn's conversations with NASA alongside Brand's own voice. His last large-scale electronic work, Ilian 4 (1974), was one of a series based on Greek myths. His decision to return to Austria secured the future of electronic composition in Vienna; since his death his sound studio has become a living memorial where musical activities and performances continue to take place.

Dramatic: Musik zum Zauberspiel 'Wrecken von Nijmegen' (incid music), 1924, Vienna, 1924; Die Wippe (ballet), 1925; Tragodietta (ballet), 1926, Stuttgart, Opernhaus, 1927; Maschinist Hopkins (3, M. Brand), op.11, Duisburg, Stadttheater, 13 April 1929; 3 Kurzfilme (film score) 1932--3, ?lost: Ausflug; Nachtliche Ruhestorung; Hande Hoch!; Requiem (1, Brand), 1932--3, lost; Der zerbrochene Krug (film score), 1933; Kleopatra (1, Brand), 1934--7, unfinished; Die Zauberreise (musical comedy, 3, R. Goetz), 1934; Die Chronik (scenic cant., Brand) 1938, unfinished; A Musical Feud (Spl, 1, Brand), 1941; The Gate (scenic orat, 2, Brand, M.A. Sohrab, J. Chanler), 1941--3, New York, Metropolitan, 23 May 1944; Stormy Interlude (1, Brand), 1955
Vocal: 3 Lieder (Lao Tse), S, pf, 1922; Nachtlied (F. Nietzsche: Also sprach Zarathustra), S, orch, 1922; 3 Lieder (J. Ringelnatz), 1924; 5 Balladen, op.10, 1v, 6 insts, 1927; 4 Lieder (F. Holderlin), 1935; Kyrie Eleison, SATB, 1940; The Ballad of Lidice, 1v, pf, 1942; On the Day of Victory (L. Hughes), 1v, pf; Sehnsucht der Menscheit (G. Beer), 1v, pf
Inst: Suite and Fugue, pf, 1920; 3 Stucke, pf, 1921; Eine Nachtmusik, op.5, chbr orch, 1922, rev. 1931; Str Trio, 1923; 5 Dances, orch, 1926 [from Tragodietta]; Peca, fl, pf, 1940; United Nations, march, brass band, 1942; Turkey's Holiday, 3 cl; The Wonderful One-Hoss-Shay, orch, 1946; Night on the Bayous of Louisiana, tone poem, 1953; other pf works
El-ac: Triptych, ?1960; The Astronauts: an Epic in Electronics, 1961; Folksongs, 1v, elec, 1962; Ilian 1--2, 1966; Ilian 4 (elec ballet)

'Mechanische Musik und das Problem der Oper', Musikblatter des Anbruchs, viii (1926), 356--9
'Die bewegte Opernbuhne', Musikblatter des Anbruchs, ix (1927), 2--6
'Uber die Situation der Oper', Blatter der Staatsoper Berlin, x (1930), 7--9

E.L. Stahl, ed.: Das Prisma: Blatter der Vereinigten Stadttheater Duisburg-Bochum, Jg.5 (1929) [Brand issue]
M. Wagner: 'Max Brand zum Gedenken', OMz, xxxv (1980), 302--4
J. Warren: 'Ernst Krenek and Max Brand: Two Austrians at the ''Court'' of Weimar', German Life and Letters, xli (1987--8), 467--78
M. Hanitsch: Kompositionstechnik und Dramaturgie in Max Brands Oper 'Maschinist Hopkins' (diss., U. of Wurzburg, 1994)
T. Brezinka: Max Brand (1896--1980) (Munich, 1995)