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Henze, Hans Werner

Henze, Hans Werner (b Gütersloh, Westphalia, 1926). Ger. composer and cond. Studied at Brunswick State Mus. Sch. 1942–4, Heidelberg 1946. Studied Schoenberg's 12-note system with Leibowitz at Darmstadt 1948. Mus. dir. Hessian State Opera's ballet, Wiesbaden, 1950. Settled in Italy 1953. Politically Henze moved in the 1960s to the extreme Left and many of his works after that date reflected revolutionary ideals and dogmas. Henze's mus. style is bewilderingly diverse, reflecting his fertile imaginative gifts and his refusal to be ‘tied down’ by formulae. As much a Fr. or It. composer as Ger., he can adopt at will Schoenbergian, Stravinskyan, or aleatory styles. Sensuous lyricism, rich and delicate tone-colours, and easy mastery of choral writing are among the prin. features of his work. Wrote Music and Politics (Ithaca, NY, and London, 1982). Prin. works:OPERAS AND MUSIC THEATRE: Das Wundertheater (1-act, after Cervantes, for actors and orch., 1948; new version for singers 1964); Boulevard Solitude (1951); König Hirsch (1953–5; reduced version as Il Re Cervo, 1962); Der Prinz von Homburg (after Kleist) (1957–8, rev. 1991); Elegy for Young Lovers (1959–61); Der junge Lord (1964); Das ende eine Welt (1964, stage version of radio opera, 1953); Ein Landarzt (1964, stage version of radio opera, 1951); The Bassarids (1965); Moralities (3 scenic cantatas to Auden text, 1967); Der langwierige Weg in die Wohnung der Natascha Ungeheuer (The Tedious Way to the Place of Natasha Ungeheuer) (1971); La Cubana (vaudeville, 1973); We Come to the River (lib. by E. Bond) (1974–6); Don Chisciotte della Mancia (version of Paisiello, 1976); Pollicino (children's opera, 1979); Il Ritorno di Ulisse in Patria (realization of Monteverdi, 1980–2); The English Cat (lib. by E. Bond) (1980–3, rev. 1990); Das verratene Meer (1986–9).RADIO OPERAS: Ein Landarzt (Kafka) (1951); Das Ende einer Welt (1953).BALLETS: Ballett-Variationen (1949, Suite 1949); Rosa Silber (1950, Suite 1950); Maratona (1956, Suite 1956); Undine (1956–71, 2 Suites 1958); Tancredi (1964 rev. of Pas d'action 1952, Suite 1952); Orpheus (1978).CHAMBER BALLETS: Jack Pudding (1949, Suite 1949); Die schlafende Prinzessin (arr. of Tchaikovsky for small orch. 1951); Labyrinth (1951, choreog. fantasy for orch. 1950); Der Idiot (1952); Des Kaisers Nachtigall (after Andersen, 1959, Suite 1959).INCIDENTAL MUSIC: Der tolle Tag (Beaumarchais) (1951); Les Caprices de Marianne (Musset/Ponnelle) (1962); Der Frieden (Aristophanes/Hacks) (1964).ORCH.: syms.: No.1 (for chamber orch. 1947, rev. 1963), No.2 (1949), No.3 (1949–50), No.4 (1955), No.5 (1962), No.6, for 2 chamber orch. (1969), No.7 (1982–4); Symphonic Interludes from Boulevard Solitude (1953); Quattro Poemi (1955); Antifone (1960); Los Caprichos (1963); Symphonic Interludes from Der junge Lord (1964); 3 Symphonic Studies (1955–64); The Hunt of the Maenads (from The Bassarids) (1965); Telemanniana (1967); Heliogabalus Imperator (1971–2); Tristan, preludes for pf., orch., tape (1973); Ragtimes and Habaneras, brass band (1975); Suite from Pollicino (1979); 2 Dramatic Scenes from Orpheus (1979); Barcarola (1983); Allegro brillante (1989).CHAMBER ORCH.: Sinfonie (1947, rev. for full orch. as sym. No.1, 1963); Symphonic Variations (1950); Sonata for Strings (1957–8); 3 Dithyrambs (1958); 4 Fantasies (3 movts. from Chamber Music 1958 with new Adagio), 8 instr. (1963); In memoriam: Die weisse Rose (1965); Fantasia für Streicher (1966, from film mus. for Der junge Törless); Fragments from a Show (from Natasche Ungeheuer), hn., 2 tpt., tb., tuba (1971); Suite from film mus. Katharina Blum (1975); Amicizia, cl., tb., vc., pf., perc. (1976); Aria de la folia española, orch., also chamber orch. (1977); Apollo trionfante, wind, perc., db. (1979); Arien des Orpheus, guitar, hp., hpd., str. (1979); Canzona, ob., 3 vas., vc., pf., hp. (1982); I Sentimenti di Carl P. E. Bach (transcr. of Fantasia for pf. and vn., 1787), fl., hp., str. (1982); Cinque piccoli concerti (interludes from The English Cat), 8 instr. (1983); Sonata for 6 (1984); 12 kleine Elegien, Renaissance instr. (1986); Requiem (9 Spiritual Concertos), pf., tpt., large chamber orch. (1990–2).CONCERTOS: chamber conc., pf., fl., str. (1946); vn. conc. No.1 (1947), No.2, vn., bass-bar., 33 instr., tape (1971); concertino, pf., wind, perc. (1947); pf. conc. No.1 (1950), No.2 (1967); Jeux des Tritons (from Undine), pf., orch. (1956–7/1967); Ode to the West Wind, vc., orch. (1953); Concerto per il Marigny, pf., 7 instr. (1956); double conc., hp., ob., str. (1966); db. conc. (1966); Compases para preguntas ensimismadas, va., 22 players (1969–70); Il Vitalino raddoppiato, vn., chamber orch. (1977); Musik, vc., chamber orch. (1977); Le Miracle de la Rose, cl., 13 instr. (1981); gui. conc. (1986); 7 Liebeslieder, vc., orch. (1984–5).VOICE AND INSTR.: Ein Landarzt, monodrama, bar., orch. (1951–64, see also RADIO OPERA); Whispers from Heavenly Death ( Whitman), high v., 8 instr. (or pf.) (1948); The Reproach (Der Vorwurf) ( Werfel), aria for bar., tpt., tb., str. (1948); Apollo and Hyacinth, alto, 9 instr. (1949); 5 Neapolitan Songs, mez. or bar., chamber orch. (1956); Nocturnes and Arias, sop., orch. (1957); Chamber Music 1958 ( Hölderlin), ten., guitar, 8 instr. (1958); 3 Hölderlin Fragments, v., guitar (1958); Ariosi (Tasso), sop., vn., and orch. (or pf. 4 hands) (1963); Being Beauteous (Rimbaud), coloratura sop., hp., 4 vc. (1963); Essay on Pigs, bar., chamber orch. (1968); El Cimarrón, bar., fl., guitar, perc. (1969–70); Voices (22 songs), mez., ten., 15 instr. (1973); The King of Harlem, mez., instr. ens. (1979); 3 Auden Poems, v., pf. (1982–3).CHORAL: 5 Madrigals, ch., 11 instr. (1947); Lullaby of the Blessed Virgin, boys' ch., 9 instr. (1948); Chorus of the Captured Trojans (from Goethe's Faust II), ch., orch. (1948, rev. 1964); Novae de Infinito Laudes, cantata, 4 solo vv., ch., small orch. (1962); Cantata della Fiaba Estrema, sop., small ch., 13 instr. (1963); Choral Fantasia ( Bachmann), chamber ch., tb., 2 vc., db., org., perc., timp. (1964); Muses of Sicily (Virgil), conc. for ch., 2 pf., wind, timp. (1966); Das Floss der Medusa, oratorio for sop., bar., speaker, ch., 9 boys' vv., orch. (1968); Jephte (realization of Carissimi's oratorio, 1650), 3 sop., alto, ten., 2 bass, 6 vv., instr. (wind, hp., perc., guitar, banjo, mandolin) (1976); Canzoni für Orpheus, unacc. ch. (1980).CHAMBER MUSIC: str. qts.: No.1 (1947), No.2 (1952), No.3 (1975–6), No.4 (1976), No.5 (1976); vn. sonata (1946); sonatina, fl., pf. (1947); Chamber Sonata, pf., vn., vc. (1948, rev. 1963); Serenade, vc. (1949); Quintet, fl., ob., cl., hn., bn. (1952); 3 Tentos (from Chamber Music 1958), guitar (1958); Der junge Törless, fantasia (after work for str. orch.), str. sextet (1966, trans. of Fantasia für Streicher); Memorias de El Cimarrón, guitar (1970); Carillon, Récitatif, Masque, mandolin, guitar, hp. (1974); Royal Winter Music (2 sonatas on Shakespearean characters), guitar (1975–6 and 1979); L'Autunno, wind quintet, fl., cl., ob., hn., bn., with interchangeable instr. (1977); sonata, solo vn. (1977); va. sonata (1979); Capriccio, vc. (1983); Selbst- und Zwiegespräche, va., gui., small org. (1984–5); Serenade, vn. (1986); Five Night Pieces, vn., pf. (1990).KEYBOARD: Variations, pf. (1949); pf. sonata (1959); Lucy Escott Variations, pf. or hpd. (1963); 6 Absences, hpd. (1961); Divertimenti, 2 pf. (1964); Toccata senza Fuga from Orpheus, org. (1979); Euridice, hpd. (1981).

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Hans Werner Henze

Hans Werner Henze

Hans Werner Henze (born 1926) is a German composer of unusual productivity and diversity of style. He is best known for unorthodox operas such as Boulevard Solitude (1952), with its unique treatment of the "Manon" story used by Puccini, and the comic opera Der junge Lord (1965). His later works show his political affiliation with socialism, as in a requiem for Che Guevara, the Cuban revolutionary.

Born in Gütersloh, Germany, on July 1, 1926, Hans Werner Henze majored in piano and percussion at the Staatsmusikschule in Braunschweig. He was drafted into the Germany army in 1943 and served in the tank corps before being taken prisoner by the British.

Early Training and Work

After World War II, Henze became a student of composer Wolfgang Fortner at Heidelberg. The style of Henze's first mature compositions—a violin sonata, a chamber concerto, and the First Symphony (1947)—was neoclassic in the manner of Igor Stravinsky and Béla Bartók. After his introduction to the 12-tone technique, Henze's next scores showed his mastery of this technique: the piano variations and a violin concerto (1948); Symphonies no. 2 (1949) and no. 3 (1951); a piano concerto (1950); The Idiot (1952), a ballet; the First String Quartet (1952); and a Wind Quintet (1953). He also exploited jazz idioms in Jack Pudding (1951) and Maratona di danza (1956).

Henze was musical director of the German Theater in Konstanz (1948-1950) and composer and adviser on ballet for the Wiesbaden State Theater (1950-1952).

Later Work and Awards

Henze considers his opera König Hirsch (1952-1956) and the Fourth Symphony (1955-1963) as the end of his "exploratory" period. In his later compositions many styles and techniques are assimilated, including polytonality, neoclassicism, romanticism with elements of jazz, and an Italianate lyricism. Out of these, says Joseph Machlis (1961), Henze "forged an original language marked by brilliance of instrumentation, rhythmic urgency, and lyric intensity." His theatrical works, especially, aroused heated controversy because of the bold librettos and astringent musical idiom.

In 1959 Henze won the Berlin Kunstpreis and in 1962 the Grand Prize for Artists at Hanover. In 1961 he became professor of composition at the Mozarteum in Salzburg.

Henze's important compositions include Undine (1958), a ballet; The Prince of Homburg (1960), a semihistorical opera; Elegy for Young Lovers (1961), with a libretto by W.H. Auden and Chester Kallman; and The Bassarids (1966), an opera with a libretto by Auden and Kallman, which many consider Henze's most felicitous score. He also wrote the Second Piano Concerto (1968); an oratorio, Das Floss der Medusa (1969); Concerto for Double Bass (1969); and the opera El Cimarron (1970).

In 1963 Henze remarked: "The twelve-tone problem does not now play a great part in my music. … I have always been concerned with musical substance, particularly with melody, and have tended to express the most difficult musical processes in the simplest forms I could devise. My music has as much to offer the naive listener as it has for the expert who can base his judgment on extensive technical knowledge."

Henze visited the United States in 1963 for the world premiere of his Fifth Symphony, performed by the New York Philharmonic for the inaugural of Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in New York City.

Hans Werner Henze continues to capture the attention of music critics. The English National Opera celebrated his 70th birthday in 1996 by performing some of his works. His Symphony no. 7, which was called "bone-rattling and exciting," was reviewed in Stereo Review (April 1994), by David Patrick Stearns, who claims that Henze has "been through more stylistic changes than Madonna."

Further Reading

David Ewen, The World of Twentieth-Century Music (1968), treats Henze briefly but thoughtfully and analyzes six major works; Joseph Machlis, Introduction to Contemporary Music (1961), and Otto Deri, Exploring Twentieth-Century Music (1968), are good background studies.

Additional Sources

Stereo Review, April 1994. □

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Henze, Hans Werner

Hans Werner Henze (häns vĕr´nər hĕn´tsə), 1926–2012, German composer, b. Gütersloh. Henze was a pupil of Wolfgang Fortner and René Leibowitz. His early works were influenced by Stravinsky, Hindemith, and Bartók. In his first violin concerto (1947) he took up twelve-tone writing, but he did not confined himself to that method (see also serial music). In 1953 he moved to Italy, where his music became more openly emotional. He also founded a music festival in Montepulciano in 1976. Henze's leftist politics of the 1960s and 70s are manifested in works such as the oratorio The Raft of the Frigate Medusa (1968), the Essay on Pigs for baritone and chamber orchestra (1969), and the antiwar opera We Come to the River (1976), one of several collaborations with English playwright Edward Bond. He also wrote ten symphonies, the ninth of which (1997) is a choral work about Nazi terror based on Anna Seghers's The Third Cross. Among his other compositions are concertos for various instruments and the operas Elegy for Young Lovers (1961) and The Bassarids (1965), both to texts by W. H. Auden, The English Cat (1983), and Phaedra (2007). His last major work was Elogium Musicum (2008), a requiem for choir and orchestra.

See his Music and Politics: Collected Writings, 1953–81 (1982) and autobiography, Bohemian Fifths (1995).

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Henze, Hans Werner

Henze, Hans Werner (1926– ) German composer. Influenced by twelve-tone music, he is best-known for his operas, such as Elegy for Young Lovers (1961).

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