Egk (real name, Mayer), Werner

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Egk (real name, Mayer), Werner

Egk (real name, Mayer ),Werner, significant German composer; b. Auchsesheim, May 17, 1901; d. Inning am Ammersee, July 10, 1983. He studied piano with Anna Hirzel-Langenhan and composition with Carl Orff in Munich. His early success as a composer began with his scores for the puppet theater and radio, and he soon began to acquire distinction with his operas and ballets. In 1936 he wrote music for the Berlin Olympic Games, for which he was awarded a Gold Medal and the approbation of the Nazi regime. However, the satirical bent of his opera Peer Gynt (Berlin, Nov. 24, 1938) was not met with favor by the regime.Still, he served as head of the Union of German composers from 1941 to 1945. The apparent favor in which he had been held by the Nazi regime made it necessary for him to stand trial before the Allied Denazification Tribunal for Artists in 1947, but he was absolved from all political taint. From 1950 to 1953 he served as director of the Berlin Hochschule fur Musik. While Egk gained particular renown as a master of dramatic composition, he also wrote a number of orch., chamber, and vocal pieces of distinction. His compositions display a mastery of extended tonality. He was also a fine writer who seasoned his output with a philosophical sarcasm. He not only wrote the librettos for his dramatic compositions, but also critical essays, poetry, plays, etc. He publ. a vol. of essays as Musik, Wort, Bild (Munich, 1960).


DRAMATIC Opera : Columbus, radio opera (1932; Bavarian Radio, Munich, July 13, 1933, composer conducting; first stage perf., Frankfurt am Main, Jan. 13, 1942); Die Zaubergeige (Frankfurt am Main, May 19, 1935; new version, Stuttgart, May 2, 1954); Peer Gynt (Berlin, Nov. 24, 1938, composer conducting); Circe, semibuffa opera, after Calderon (1945; Berlin, Dec. 18, 1948; new version as Siebzehn Tage und vier Minuten, Stuttgart, June 2, 1966); Irische Legende, after Yeats (Salzburg, Aug. 17, 1955; new version, 1970); Der Revisor, comic opera, after Gogol (1956; Schwetzingen, May 9, 1957, composer conducting); Die Verlobung in San Domingo, after Kleist (Munich, Nov. 27, 1963, composer conducting). S i n g s p i e l s : Der Lowe und die Maus (1931); Der Fuchs und der Rabe (1932); Die Historic vom Ritter Don Juan aus Barcelona (1932). B a l l e t : Joan von Zarissa (1939; Berlin, Jan. 20, 1940, composer conducting); Abraxas (Munich, June 6, 1948, composer conducting); Ein Sommertag (Berlin, June 11, 1950); Die chinesische Nachtigall (Munich, May 20, 1953, composer conducting); Franzosische Suite nach Rameau (Hamburg, Feb. 1, 1952); Danza (Munich, Feb. 16, 1960, composer conducting); Casanova in London (1968; Munich, Nov. 23, 1969, composer conducting). ORCH.: Musik for Strings (1923); Musik for Small Orch. (1925–26); Kleine Symphonic (1926); Blasmusik for Wind Orch. (1931); Georgica (N.Y., Nov. 14, 1934); Geigenmusik for Violin and Orch. (Baden-Baden, April 3, 1936, composer conducting); Olympische Festmusik (Berlin, Aug. 1, 1936); Triptychon aus Joan von Zarissa (1940); Abraxas, suite from the ballet (1948); 2 sonatas: No. 1 (Darmstadt, April 11, 1948, composer conducting) and No. 2 (Ludwigshafen, Sept. 14, 1969); Franzosische Suite (1949; Munich, Jan. 27, 1950); Allegria (Baden-Baden, April 25, 1952, composer conducting); Variationen iiber ein karibisches Thema (1959; Freiburg im Breisgau, Jan. 18, 1960, composer conducting); Englische Suite, after the ballet Casanova in London (1968; Baden-Baden, Feb. 14, 1969, composer conducting); Moira (1972; Nuremberg, Jan. 12, 1973); Spiegelzeit (Landau, Sept. 14, 1979); Ouverture (1979–80; Recklinghausen, Sept. 14, 1980); Der Revisor, suite for Trumpet and Orch., after the comic opera (1980; Schwetzingen, May 1981); Canzone for Cello and Orch. (1981; Salzburg, Jan. 16, 1982); Nachtanz (1983; Augsburg, April 15, 1985). CHAMBER : Piano Trio (1922); String Quartet (1924); String Quintet (1924); Piano Sonata (1947; Berlin, Feb. 22, 1948); Divertissement for 10 Wind Instruments (1973–74; Schwetzingen, May 8, 1974); 5 Stticke for Wind Quintet (1974; Porto, Jan. 30, 1975); Polonaise, Adagio und Finale for 9 Instruments (1975–76; 1st complete perf., Munich, Sept. 30, 1976); Ouverture for the opera Die Zaubergeige for 10 Wind Instruments (1980; Kloster Eberbach, June 14, 1981); Die Nachtigall, divertimento for String Quartet, after the ballet Die chinesische Nachtigall(1981; Donauworth, Oct. 24, 1982). VOCAL: Furchtlosigkeit und Wohlwollen for Tenor, Chorus, and Orch. (1931–32; Baden-Baden, April 3, 1936; new version, Vienna, July 5, 1959, composer conducting); Quattro Canzoni for High Voice and Orch. (1932; new version, 1956; Aachen, April 23, 1958, composer conducting); NaturLiebeTod, cantata for Bass and Chamber Orch. (Göttingen, June 26, 1937, composer conducting); Mein Vaterland, hymn for Chorus and Orch. or Organ (Göttingen, June 26, 1937, composer conducting); Variationen tiber ein altes Wiener Strophenlied for Soprano and Orch. (1937; Berlin, Sept. 16, 1938); La Tentation de Saint Antoine for Alto, String Quartet, and String Orch. (1947; Siidwestfunk, Baden-Baden, May 18, 1947, composer conducting; also for Alto and String Quartet; also for Chorus and Orch., Munich, May 17, 1978); Chanson et Romance for Soprano and Orch. (Aix-en-Provence, July 19, 1953); Nachgefiihl, cantata for Soprano and Orch. (1975; Munich, Sept. 30, 1976). OTHER: Arrangement of Mozart’s Sinfonia concertante, K.297b, for 8 Wind Instruments and Double Bass (1982–83; Donauworth, Oct. 8, 1986).


B. Kohl and E. Nolle, eds., W. E.: Das Buhnenwerk (Munich, 1971); E. Krause, W. E.: Oper und Ballet (Wilhelshaven, 1971); A. Boswald et al., W. E. (Tutzing, 1997).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire