World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Hans Werner Henze

Article Id: WHEBN0000647641
Reproduction Date:

Title: Hans Werner Henze  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: 1956 in music, Paul Sacher, Edward Bond, Julian Bream, W. H. Auden
Collection: 1926 Births, 2012 Deaths, 20Th-Century Classical Composers, 20Th-Century German Musicians, 21St-Century Classical Composers, Ballet Composers, Composers Awarded Knighthoods, Deutsche Grammophon Artists, German Classical Composers, German Male Classical Composers, German Opera Composers, Honorary Members of the Royal Academy of Music, International Rostrum of Composers Prize-Winners, Jazz-Influenced Classical Composers, Knight Commanders of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany, Lgbt Classical Musicians, Lgbt Composers, Lgbt Musicians from Germany, Members of the Academy of the Arts, Berlin, Members of the Bavarian Maximilian Order for Science and Art, Opera Composers, People from Gütersloh, People from the Province of Westphalia, Pupils of René Leibowitz, Pupils of Wolfgang Fortner, Recipients of the Praemium Imperiale
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Hans Werner Henze

Hans Werner Henze in 1960

Hans Werner Henze (1 July 1926 – 27 October 2012) was a German composer. His prolific oeuvre of works is extremely varied in style, having been influenced by serialism, atonality, Stravinsky, Italian music, Arabic music and jazz, as well as traditional schools of German composition. In particular, his stage works reflect "his consistent cultivation of music for the theatre throughout his life".[1]

Henze was also known for his political convictions. He left Germany for Italy in 1953 because of a perceived intolerance towards his leftist politics and homosexuality. Late in life he lived in the village of Marino in the central Italian region of Lazio, and in his final years still travelled extensively, in particular to Britain and Germany, as part of his work. An avowed Marxist and member of the Communist Party of Italy, Henze produced compositions honoring Ho Chi Minh and Che Guevara. At the 1968 Hamburg premiere of his requiem for Che Guevara, titled Das Floß der Medusa (The Raft of Medusa), the placing of a red flag on the stage sparked a riot and the arrest of several people, including the librettist. Henze spent a year teaching in Cuba, though he later became disillusioned with Castro.


  • Life and works 1
    • Early years 1.1
    • Move to Italy 1.2
    • An established composer 1.3
  • Works 2
  • Awards 3
  • References 4
  • Further reading 5
  • External links 6

Life and works

Early years

Henze was born in Gütersloh, Westphalia, the oldest of six children of a teacher, and showed early interest in art and music. That and his political views led to conflict with his conservative father. Henze's father, Franz, had served in the First World War and was wounded at Verdun. He worked as a teacher in a school at Bielefeld, formed on progressive lines, but it was closed in 1933 by government order because its progressive style was out of step with official views. Franz Henze then moved to Dünne, a small village near Bünde, where he fell under the spell of Nazi propaganda. Books by Jewish and Christian authors were replaced in the Henze household by literature reflecting Nazi views; the whole family was expected to fall into line with Franz's new thinking. The older boys, including Hans, were enrolled in the Hitler Youth.

Although the Henze household was filled with talk of current affairs, Hans was also able to hear broadcasts of classical music (especially Mozart) and eventually his father realized that his son had a vocation as a musician. Henze began studies at the state music school of Braunschweig in 1942, where he studied piano, percussion, and theory. In 1943, Franz Henze re-joined the army and he was sent to the Eastern front, where he died. Henze had to break off his studies after being conscripted into the army in 1944, towards the end of Second World War. He was trained as a radio officer. He was soon captured by the British and held in a prisoner-of-war camp for the remainder of the war. In 1945, he became an accompanist in the Bielefeld City Theatre and continued his studies under Wolfgang Fortner at Heidelberg University in 1946.

Henze had some successful performances at Darmstadt, including an immediate success in 1946 with a neo-baroque work for piano, flute and strings, that brought him to the attention of Schott's, the music publishers. He also took part in the famous Darmstadt New Music Summer School, a key vehicle for the propagation of avant-garde techniques. At the 1947 summer school, Henze turned to serial technique.

In his early years he worked with twelve-tone technique, for example in his First Symphony and Violin Concerto of 1947. Sadler's Wells Ballet visited Hamburg in 1948, which inspired Henze to write a choreographic poem, Ballett-Variationen, which he completed in 1949. The first ballet he saw was Frederick Ashton's Scènes de Ballet. He wrote a letter of appreciation to Ashton, introducing himself as a 22-year-old composer. The next time he wrote to Ashton he enclosed the score of his Ballett-Variationen, which he hoped Ashton might find of interest. The work was first performed in Düsseldorf in September 1949 and staged for the first time in Wuppertal in 1958. In 1948 he became musical assistant at the Deutscher Theater in Konstanz, where his first opera Das Wundertheater, based on the work of Cervantes, was created.

In 1950, he became ballet conductor at the Hessisches Staatstheater Wiesbaden in Wiesbaden, where he composed two operas for radio, his First Piano Concerto, as well as his first stage work of real note, the jazz-influenced opera Boulevard Solitude, a modern recasting of the traditional Manon Lescaut story.

Move to Italy

In 1953, Henze left Germany, in reaction against Der Prinz von Homburg (1958) based on a text by Heinrich von Kleist and Der junge Lord (1964) after Wilhelm Hauff, as well as Serenades and Arias (1957) and his Choral Fantasy (1964).

He composed his Five Neapolitan Songs for Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau soon after his arrival in Naples. A later sojourn in Greece provided the opportunity to complete his Hölderlin-based work Kammermusik 1958, dedicated to Benjamin Britten and premiered by the tenor Peter Pears, the guitarist Julian Bream and an eight-member chamber ensemble.[3][4]

In 1961, Henze moved to a secluded villa, La Leprara, on the hills of Marino, overlooking the Tiber south of Rome. This time also signalled a strong leaning towards music involving the voice.

From 1962 until 1967, Henze taught masterclasses in composition at the Mozarteum in Salzburg, and in 1967 he became a visiting Professor at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire. One of his greatest successes was the premiere of the opera Die Bassariden at the Salzburg Festival.

In the following period, he greatly strengthened his political involvement which also influenced his musical work. For example, the première of his oratorio Das Floß der Medusa in Hamburg failed when his West Berlin collaborators refused to perform under a portrait of Che Guevara and a revolutionary flag had been placed upon the stage.[5] His politics also influenced his Sixth Symphony (1969), Second Violin Concerto (1971), Voices (1973), and his piece for spoken word and chamber orchestra, El Cimarrón, based on a book by Cuban author Miguel Barnet about escaped black slaves during Cuba's colonial period.

An established composer

His political critique reached its high point in 1976 with the premiere of his opera We Come to the River.

In 1976, Henze founded the Cantiere Internazionale d'Arte in Montepulciano for the promotion of new music, where his children's opera Pollicino premiered in 1980. From 1980 until 1991 he led a class in composition in the Cologne Music School. In 1981 he founded the Mürztal Workshops in the Austrian region of Styria, the same region where he set up the Deutschlandsberg Youth Music Festival in 1984. In 1988, he founded the Munich Biennale, an "international festival for new music theatre", of which he was the artistic director.

His own operas became more conventional once more, for example The English Cat (1983), and Das verratene Meer (1990), based on Yukio Mishima's novel Gogo no Eiko, known in English as The Sailor Who Fell from Grace with the Sea.

His later works, while less controversial, continued his political and social engagement. His Requiem (1990–93) comprised nine sacred concertos for piano, trumpet and chamber orchestra, and was written in memory of Michael Vyner, the artistic director of the London Sinfonietta. The choral Ninth Symphony (1997), – "dedicated to the heroes and martyrs of German anti-fascism" – to a libretto by Hans-Ulrich Treichel based on motifs from the novel The Seventh Cross by Anna Seghers is a defiant rejection of Nazi barbarism, with which Henze himself lived as a child and teenager. His last success was the 2003 premiere of the opera L'Upupa und der Triumph der Sohnesliebe (English: The Hoopoe and the Triumph of Filial Love) at the Salzburg Festival, with a text he wrote himself, based on a Syrian fairy tale. Other late compositions include Sebastian im Traum (2004) for large orchestra and the opera Phaedra (2007).

Henze lived with his partner Fausto Moroni from the early sixties, and Moroni planned and planted the hillside garden around La Leprara. Moroni cared for the composer when he suffered a spectacular emotional collapse during which he barely spoke and had to be encouraged to eat, living as though in a coma. In 2007, shortly after Henze's sudden recovery, Moroni died after a lengthy battle with cancer. Elogium Musicum (2008), for large orchestra and chorus singing Henze's own Latin text, is a memorial to his partner of more than forty years.

In 1995 Henze received the Westphalian Music Prize, which has carried his name since 2001. Invited by Walter Fink, he was the tenth composer featured in the annual Komponistenporträt of the Rheingau Musik Festival in 2000, but he did not attend due to illness. The music included his Requiem. On November 7, 2004 Henze received an honorary doctorate in Musicology from the Hochschule für Musik und Theater München (University for Music and Performing Arts, Munich). In 1975, Henze became an Honorary Member of the Royal Academy of Music, London.[6] The English version of his autobiography, Bohemian Fifths, was published in 1998.[7]

Henze died in Dresden on 27 October 2012 at the age of 86.[8]


Henze's music has incorporated neo-classicism, jazz, the twelve-tone technique, serialism, and some rock or popular music. Although he did study atonalism early in his career, after his move to Italy in 1953, Henze's music became considerably more Neapolitan in style. His opera König Hirsch ("The Stag King") contains lush, rich textures. This trend is carried further in the opulent ballet music that he wrote for English choreographer Frederick Ashton's Ondine, completed in 1957. While Mendelssohn and Weber were important influences, the music for Ondine contains some jazz and there is much in it redolent of Stravinsky—not only Stravinsky the neo-classical composer, but also the composer of The Rite of Spring. His Maratona di danza, on the other hand, required much tighter integration of jazz elements, complete with an on-stage band, which was very different from the more romantic Ondine. Henze received much of the impetus for his ballet music from his earlier job as ballet adviser at the Hessisches Staatstheater Wiesbaden.

The textures for the cantata Kammermusik (1958, rev. 1963) are far harsher; Henze returned to atonalism in Antifone, and later the other styles mentioned above again became important in his music.



  1. ^ Rickards, Guy (1995). Hindemith, Hartmann and Henze. Phaidon Press. p. 198.  
  2. ^ Guy Rickards (2012-10-27). "Hans Werner Henze obituary". The Guardian. Retrieved 2015-02-03. 
  3. ^ Kammermusik 1958 "Kammermusik 1958" . Schott Musik. Retrieved August 27, 2013. 
  4. ^ – review"Canzona; Apollo et Hyacinthus; Kammermusik 1958"Henze: . The Guardian. November 1, 2012. Retrieved August 27, 2013. 
  5. ^ Ernst Schnabel, "Zum Untergang einer Uraufführung" and "Postscriptum nach dreiunddreissig Tagen", in Hans Werner Henze and Ernst Schnabel, Das Floss der Medusa: Text zum Oratorium, 47–61 & 65–79 (Munich: Piper-Verlag, 1969); Andrew Porter, "Henze: The Raft of the Frigate 'Medusa'—Oratorio" [record review of DGG 139428-9], Gramophone 47, no. 563 (April 1970): 1625; "Affären/Henze: Sie bleibt", Der Spiegel 22, no. 51 (16 December 1968): 152. (German)
  6. ^ "Honorary Members of the Royal Academy of Music". Royal Academy of Music. 14 October 2009. Retrieved 14 October 2009. 
  7. ^ "Hans Werner Henze". Telegraph. 2012-10-28. Retrieved 2015-02-03. 
  8. ^ "Famed German composer Hans Werner Henze dies". BBC News. 27 October 2012. Retrieved 27 October 2012. 

Further reading

  • Bokina, John. 1997. Opera and Politics: From Monteverdi to Henze. New Haven: Yale University Press. ISBN 0-300-06935-9.
  • Henze, Hans Werner. 1984. Musik und Politik. Schriften und Gespräche [Music and Politics: Collected Writings] Ed. by Jens Brockmeier. Munich: Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag, ISBN 3-423-10305-1 (1st Edition 1976, ISBN 3-423-01162-9). English translation of 1st German edition by Peter Labanyi: UK 1982 (Faber & Faber, ISBN 0-8014-1545-4) and US 1982 (Cornell University Press, ISBN 0-571-11719-8).
  • Henze, Hans Werner. 1998. Bohemian Fifths: An Autobiography. Translated by Stewart Spencer. London: Faber & Faber. ISBN 0-571-17815-4 [Translation of Reiselieder mit böhmischen Quinten: Autobiographische Mitteilungen 1926–1995. Frankfurt: S. Fischer, 1996. ISBN 3-10-032605-9].
  • Kennedy, Michael. 2006. The Oxford Dictionary of Music, 2nd edition, revised. Associate editor, Joyce Bourne. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-861459-4.
  • Palmer-Füchsel, Virginia. 2001. "Henze, Hans Werner". The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, second edition, edited by Stanley Sadie and John Tyrrell. London: Macmillan Publishers.

External links

  • Literature by and about Hans Werner Henze in the German National Library catalogue
  • Hans Werner Henze at the Internet Movie Database
  • Schott: Hans Werner Henze
  • Schirmer: Hans Werner Henze
  • Chester-Novello: Hans Werner Henze
  • Sequenza21: Hans Werner Henze
  • 'Henze at 80' — BBC website including recorded interview extracts
  • Listen to Henze's "The Electric Cop" at Acousmata music blog
  • There is a wide range of Henze clips on YouTube
  • Project "eSACHERe"
  • "Partitur einer Freundschaft – Ingeborg Bachmann/Hans Werner Henze" (2006)
  • Intervista a Hans Werner Henze / a cura di Antonella Calzolari e Velio Carratoni 13 June 2007 — Video with an interview in Italian, by Antonella Calzolari and Velio Carratoni (Fondazione Marino Piazzolla) and transcription published in the magazine Fermenti n.232 (2008)
  • A biography on IRCAM's website (French)
  • Interview with Hans Werner Henze by Bruce Duffie, November 27, 1981 (Mostly about his operas)
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from World Library are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.