Hans Werner Henze

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Hans Werner Henze
Bundesarchiv B 145 Bild-F008277-0008, Koln, Schloss Bruhl, Meisterkurse Musik.jpg
Henze in 1960
Born(1926-07-01)1 July 1926
Gütersloh, Germany
Died27 October 2012(2012-10-27) (aged 86)
Dresden, Germany
Education Heidelberg University
OccupationClassical composer
Organization
Awards

Hans Werner Henze (1 July 1926 – 27 October 2012) was a German composer. His large 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]

In music, serialism is a method of composition using series of pitches, rhythms, dynamics, timbres or other musical elements. Serialism began primarily with Arnold Schoenberg's twelve-tone technique, though some of his contemporaries were also working to establish serialism as a form of post-tonal thinking. Twelve-tone technique orders the twelve notes of the chromatic scale, forming a row or series and providing a unifying basis for a composition's melody, harmony, structural progressions, and variations. Other types of serialism also work with sets, collections of objects, but not necessarily with fixed-order series, and extend the technique to other musical dimensions, such as duration, dynamics, and timbre.

Atonality Music that lacks a tonal center or key

Atonality in its broadest sense is music that lacks a tonal center, or key. Atonality, in this sense, usually describes compositions written from about 1908 to the present day where a hierarchy of pitches focusing on a single, central tone is not used, and the notes of the chromatic scale function independently of one another. More narrowly, the term atonality describes music that does not conform to the system of tonal hierarchies that characterized classical European music between the seventeenth and nineteenth centuries. "The repertory of atonal music is characterized by the occurrence of pitches in novel combinations, as well as by the occurrence of familiar pitch combinations in unfamiliar environments".

Igor Stravinsky Russian-born composer

Igor Fyodorovich Stravinsky was a Russian-born composer, pianist, and conductor. He is widely considered one of the most important and influential composers of the 20th century.

Contents

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 Italian Communist Party, 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 from 1969 to 1970 teaching in Cuba.

Left-wing politics supports social equality and egalitarianism, often in opposition to social hierarchy. It typically involves a concern for those in society whom its adherents perceive as disadvantaged relative to others (prioritarianism) as well as a belief that there are unjustified inequalities that need to be reduced or abolished. The term left-wing can also refer to "the radical, reforming, or socialist section of a political party or system".

Homosexuality is romantic attraction, sexual attraction or sexual behavior between members of the same sex or gender. As a sexual orientation, homosexuality is "an enduring pattern of emotional, romantic, and/or sexual attractions" to people of the same sex. It "also refers to a person's sense of identity based on those attractions, related behaviors, and membership in a community of others who share those attractions."

Marino, Lazio Comune in Lazio, Italy

Marino is an Italian city and comune in Lazio, on the Alban Hills, Italy, 21 kilometres southeast of Rome, with a population of 37,684 and a territory of 26.10 square kilometres (10.08 sq mi). It is bounded by other communes, Castel Gandolfo, Albano Laziale, Rocca di Papa, Grottaferrata, and Ciampino. Marino is famous for its white wine, and for its Grape Festival, which has been celebrated since 1924.

Life and works

Early years

Henze was born in Gütersloh, Westphalia, the eldest 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.

Gütersloh Place in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany

Gütersloh is a city in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany, in the area of Westphalia and the administrative region of Detmold. Gütersloh is the administrative centre for a district of the same name and has a population of 96,320 people.

Province of Westphalia province of the Kingdom of Prussia

The Province of Westphalia was a province of the Kingdom of Prussia and the Free State of Prussia from 1815 to 1946.

Verdun Subprefecture and commune in Grand Est, France

Verdun is a small city in the Meuse department in Grand Est in northeastern France. It is an arrondissement of the department.

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. Franz Henze rejoined the army in 1943 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 the 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.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart Austrian composer of the Classical period

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, baptised as Johannes Chrysostomus Wolfgangus Theophilus Mozart, was a prolific and influential composer of the classical era.

Braunschweig Place in Lower Saxony, Germany

Braunschweig, also called Brunswick in English, is a city in Lower Saxony, Germany, north of the Harz mountains at the farthest navigable point of the Oker River which connects it to the North Sea via the Aller and Weser Rivers. In 2016, it had a population of 250,704.

Conscription Compulsory enlistment into national or military service

Conscription, sometimes called the draft, is the compulsory enlistment of people in a national service, most often a military service. Conscription dates back to antiquity and continues in some countries to the present day under various names. The modern system of near-universal national conscription for young men dates to the French Revolution in the 1790s, where it became the basis of a very large and powerful military. Most European nations later copied the system in peacetime, so that men at a certain age would serve 1–8 years on active duty and then transfer to the reserve force.

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.

Darmstadt Place in Hesse, Germany

Darmstadt is a city in the state of Hesse in Germany, located in the southern part of the Rhine-Main-Area. Darmstadt had a population of around 157,437 at the end of 2016. The Darmstadt Larger Urban Zone has 430,993 inhabitants.

Schott Music music publisher

Schott Music is one of the oldest German music publishers. It is also one of the largest, and is the second oldest, music publishing houses in Europe. The company headquarters of Schott Music were founded by Bernhard Schott in Mainz, Germany, in 1770.

Avant-garde works that are experimental or innovative

The avant-garde are people or works that are experimental, radical, or unorthodox with respect to art, culture, or society. It may be characterized by nontraditional, aesthetic innovation and initial unacceptability, and it may offer a critique of the relationship between producer and consumer.

In his early years he worked with twelve-tone technique, for example in his First Symphony and First Violin Concerto of 1947. Sadler's Wells Ballet visited Hamburg in 1948; this 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. This 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  [ de ], based on the work of Cervantes, was created.

Twelve-tone technique method of musical composition devised by Arnold Schönberg to ensure that all 12 notes of the chromatic scale are equally often, so that the music avoids being in a key

The twelve-tone technique—also known as dodecaphony, twelve-tone serialism, and twelve-note composition—is a method of musical composition first devised by Austrian composer Josef Matthias Hauer, who published his "law of the twelve tones" in 1919. In 1923, Arnold Schoenberg (1874–1951) developed his own, better-known version of 12-tone technique, which became associated with the "Second Viennese School" composers, who were the primary users of the technique in the first decades of its existence. The technique is a means of ensuring that all 12 notes of the chromatic scale are sounded as often as one another in a piece of music while preventing the emphasis of any one note through the use of tone rows, orderings of the 12 pitch classes. All 12 notes are thus given more or less equal importance, and the music avoids being in a key. Over time, the technique increased greatly in popularity and eventually became widely influential on 20th-century composers. Many important composers who had originally not subscribed to or even actively opposed the technique, such as Aaron Copland and Igor Stravinsky, eventually adopted it in their music.

Hans Werner Henze's Symphony No. 1 was premiered in Darmstadt in 1947. The premiere was hit by Henze’s accustomed bad luck. The orchestral parts, handwritten by the composer himself, had become illegible during photocopying in Schott’s offices and despite the young composer’s best efforts to ink in the parts throughout the night, only the slow movement was performed. The whole symphony was eventually premiered a year later, although Henze himself conducted the work only after comprehensive revision.

Frederick Ashton British dancer and choreographer

Sir Frederick William Mallandaine Ashton was a British ballet dancer and choreographer. He also worked as a director and choreographer in opera, film and revue.

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

Henze left Germany in 1953, in reaction against homophobia and the country's general political climate. His publisher, Schott's, had also offered Henze an advance on royalties, on condition that he leave his conducting posts to focus on composition. [2] This financial incentive allowed Henze to move to Italy, where he remained for most of his life. He settled on the island of Ischia in the Gulf of Naples. Also resident on the island were the composer William Walton and his wife Susana, who took a great interest in the young German composer. Henze's Quattro poemi for orchestra in 1955 made clear that he had moved far from the principles of the Darmstadt avant-garde. In January 1956 he left Ischia and moved to the mainland to live in Naples. Initially he suffered further disappointment, with controversial premieres of the opera König Hirsch , based on a text by Carlo Gozzi, and the ballet Maratona di danza, with a libretto by Luchino Visconti. However, he then began a long-lasting and fruitful creative partnership with the poet Ingeborg Bachmann. Working with her as librettist, he composed the operas 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]

Henze moved in 1961 to a secluded villa, 'La Leprara', on the hills of Marino, overlooking the River 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 the same year 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 owing to illness he did not attend. The music included his Requiem. On 7 November 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 he 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]

Works

Henze's music has incorporated neoclassicism, 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.

Awards

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References

  1. Rickards, Guy (1995). Hindemith, Hartmann and Henze. Phaidon Press. p. 198. ISBN   0-7148-3174-3.
  2. Rickards, Guy (2012-10-27). "Hans Werner Henze obituary". The Guardian . Retrieved 2015-02-03.
  3. "Kammermusik 1958". Schott Musik. Archived from the original on September 10, 2012. Retrieved August 27, 2013.
  4. "Henze: Kammermusik 1958; Apollo et Hyacinthus; Canzona – review". 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. (in 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