Pfitzner, Hans (Erich)

views updated Jun 11 2018

Pfitzner, Hans (Erich)

Pfitzner, Hans (Erich), eminent German composer, conductor, pedagogue, and writer on music; b. Moscow (of German parents), May 5,1869; d. Salzburg, May 22, 1949. He was a student of Kwast (piano) and Knorr (composition) at the Hoch Cons, in Frankfurt am Main (1886–90). In 1892–93 he taught at the Koblenz Cons. From 1894 to 1896 he conducted at the Mainz City Theater, where his first opera, Der arme Heinrich, scored a remarkable success at its premiere on April 2,1895. He went to Berlin, where he taught at the Stern Cons. (1897–1907) and held the position of 1st conductor at the Theater des Westens (1903–06). His opera Die Rose vom Liebesgarten brought him further success at its first performance in Elberfeld on Nov. 9,1901. In 1907–08 he conducted the Kaim Orch. in Munich. He then went to Strasbourg, where he served as music director of the city, and as director of the Cons. (1908–18) and of the Opera (1910–16). The premiere of his greatest work, the opera Palestrina (Munich, June 12, 1917), brought Pfitzner his widest recognition as a composer. In 1919–20 he was music director of the Munich Konzertverein. From 1920 to 1929 he taught a master class in composition at the Berlin Academy of Arts, and then at the Munich Akademie der Tonkunst from 1929 to 1934. In 1925 he received the order Pour le mérite for his services to German music.

Pfitzner’s genuine talent as a composer in the late Romantic tradition has been overshadowed by his overwhelming sense of self worth as a creative artist, by his polemical writings, such as Futuristengefahr (1917) and Die neue Ästhetik der musikalischen Impotenz (1920), and by his craving for public recognition and honors. In 1936 he accepted an appointment by the Nazi government as a Cultural Senator of the Reich. He degraded himself by sending a devotional public address to the notorious Nazi field marshal Hermann Goring and by dedicating his Krakauer Begrüssung, to Hans Frank, the murderous Nazi governor general of occupied Poland. With the collapse of the Nazi regime in 1945, Pfitzner was required to explain his conduct during the Third Reich to the Denazification Court in Munich. The aging composer was exonerated in 1948, and spent his last days in Salzburg. Apart from his Palestrina, Pfitzner’s most important works include the Kleine Symphonie, the Sym. in C major, the Violin Concerto, particularly remarkable for its craftsmanship and melodic invention, the cello concertos, and several fine lieder.


dramatic: Opera: Der arme Heinrich (1891–93; Mainz, April 2, 1895); Die Rose vom Liebesgarten (1897–1900; Elberfeld, Nov. 9,1901); Das Christ- Elflein (Munich, Dec. II, 1906; rev. version, Dresden, Dec. 11, 1917); Galestrina (1911–15; Munich, June 12,1917); Das Herz (Berlin and Munich, Nov. 12, 1931). Incidental Music: Das Fest auf Solhaug, to Ibsen’s play (1889–90; Mainz, Nov. 28, 1890); Das Käthchen von Heilbronn, to Kleist’s play (Berlin, Oct. 19, 1905); Gesang der Barden for Kleist’s play Die Hermannsschlacht (1906). orch.:Scherzo (1887; Frankfurt am Main, Nov. 8, 1888); 3 cello concertos: op. post. (1888; Würzburg, Feb. 18, 1977), G major (Hamburg, Sept. 27,1935), and A minor (Solingen, April 23, 1944); 3 Preludes from the opera Galestrina (1917); Piano Concerto (Dresden, March 16, 1921); Violin Concerto (1923; Nuremberg, June 4, 1924); 3 syms.: C- sharp minor (1932; Munich, March 23, 1933; arr. from the String Quartet No. 2, 1903), Kleine Symphonie (Hamburg, Nov. 17,1939), and C major (Frankfurt am Main, Oct. 11, 1940); Duo for Violin, Cello, and Chamber Orch. (Frankfurt am Main, Dec. 3, 1937); Elegie und Reigen (1939; Salzburg, April 4, 1941); Krakauer Begrüssung (1944); Fantasie (1947). chamber: 4 string quartets (1886, 1903, 1925, 1942); Cello Sonata (1890); Piano Trio (1896); Piano Quintet (1908); Violin Sonata (1918); Sextet for Clarinet, Violin, Viola, Cello, Double Bass, and Piano (1945). Piano: 5 Pieces (1941); 6 Studien (1943). VOCAL: Over 100 lieder for Voice and Piano (1884–1931); Der Blumen Rache for Alto, Women’s Voices, and Orch. (1888); Herr Oluf for Baritone and Orch. (1891); Rudgesang zum Neuhjahrsfest 1901 for Bass, Chorus, and Piano (1900); Die Heinzelmännchen for Bass and Orch. (1902–03); Columbus for Chorus (1905); 2 deutsche Gesänge for Baritone and Men’s Voices ad libitum (1915–16); Von deutscher Seele, cantata for 4 Soloists, Chorus, Orch., and Organ (1921); Lethe for Baritone and Orch. (1926); Das dunkle Reich for Soloists, Orch., and Organ (1929); Fons salutifer for Chorus, Orch., and Organ (1941); 2 men’s choruses (1941); 3 songs for Men’s Chorus and Small Orch. (1944); Kantate for 4 Soloists, Chorus, Orch., and Organ (1948–49; completed by R. Rehan).


Gesammelte Schriften (2 vols., Augsburg, 1926, 1929); Über musikalische Inspiration (Berlin, 1940); Eindrücke und Bilder meines Lebens (Hamburg, 1947); W Osthoff, ed., Briefwechsel H P.—Gerhard Frommel 1925–1948 (Tutzing, 1990); B. Adamy, ed., H. P Briefe (2 vols., Tutzing, 1991).


P. Cossmann, H P. (Munich, 1904); R. Louis, H. Ps “Rose vom Liebesgarten” (Munich, 1904); C. Wandrey, H. P. (Leipzig, 1922); E. Kroll, H. P. (Munich, 1924); W. Lütge, H P (Leipzig, 1924); E. Valentin, H. P: Werk und Gestalt eines Deutschen (Regensburg, 1939); H. Lindlar, H Ps Klavier-Lied (Würzburg, 1940); J. Müller-Blattau, H. P: Ein Bild in Widmungen anlässlich seines 75. Geburtstages (Leipzig, 1944); H. Rutz, H. P: Musik zwischen den Zeiten (Vienna, 1949); K. Müller, In memoriam H. P (Vienna, 1950); D. Henderson, H P: The Composer and His Instrumental Music (diss., Univ. of Mich., 1963); H. Rectanus, Leitmotivïk und Form in den musikdramatischen Werken H Ps (Würzburg, 1967); W. Dietz, H Ps Lieder: Versuch einer Stilbetrachtung (Regensburg, 1968); W. Abendroth and K.-R. Danler, eds., Festschrift aus Anlass des 100. Geburtstags und des 20. Todestags H. Ps (Munich, 1969); B. Cherney, The Bekker-P. Controversy: Its Significance for German Music Criticism During the Weimar Republic (diss., Univ. of Toronto, 1974); E. Busse, Die Eichendorff- Rezeption im Kunstlied: Versuch einer Typologie anhand von Kompositionen Schumanns, Wolfs, und Ps (Würzburg, 1975); W. Osthoff, ed., Symposium H. P. (1981: Berlin, Germany) (Tutzing, 1984); R. Ermen, Musik als Einfall: H. Ps Position im ästhetischen Diskurs nach Wagner (Aachen, 1986); E. Wamlek-Junk, H. P. und Wien: Sein Briefwechsel mit Victor Junk und andere Dokumente (Tutzing, 1986); J. Vogel, H. P: Mit Zelbstzeugnissen und Bilddokumenten (Reinbek bei Hamburg, 1989); G. Busch-Salmen and G. Weiss, H. P.: Münchner Dokumente, Bilder und Bildnesse (Regensburg, 1990); J. Williamson, The Music of H. P. (Oxford, 1992); W. Osthoff, H. P. und die musikalische Lyrik seiner Zeit (Tutzing, 1994); P. Cahn and W Osthoff, H. P.—”Das Herz” und der Übergang zum Spätwerk (Tutzing, 1997); R. Mercier, The Songs of H. P.: A Guide and Study (Westport, Conn., 1998).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire

Pfitzner, Hans (Erich)

views updated May 23 2018

Pfitzner, Hans (Erich) (b Moscow, 1869; d Salzburg, 1949). Ger. composer and conductor. Taught pf. Coblenz Cons. 1892–3. Cond. Mainz mus. th. 1894–6. Taught comp. and cond. Stern Cons., Berlin, 1897–1907. First cond. Theater des Westens, Berlin, 1903–6. Municipal mus. dir. and dir. of Cons., Strasbourg, 1908–18, becoming mus. dir. Strasbourg Opera 1910–16. Taught in Berlin 1920–9. Prof. of comp., Munich Acad. 1929–34. Influenced by Wagner and Schopenhauer. Well-known as writer on mus. and determined critic of modern tendencies. Mahler cond. two of his operas in Vienna, but his chief success was with Palestrina (Munich 1917) which has remained in the repertory in Ger. and has won many admirers beyond its frontiers. The Nazis upheld his mus. as in the best Ger. tradition and contrasted it with the ‘degeneracy’ of Strauss. After the 1939–45 war he was found in penury in a Munich home for the aged by the president of the Vienna PO who took him to Vienna where he was supported by the orch. His mus. is romantic in a Wagner-Strauss idiom; his songs in particular are beautiful. Prin. works:OPERAS: Der arme Heinrich (1891–3); Die Rose vom Liebesgarten (1897–1900); Das Christelflein (comp. as incid. mus. 1906, converted into opera 1917); Palestrina (1911–15); Das Herz (1931).ORCH.: Scherzo (1888); Kleine Symphonie (1939); Fantasie (1947); pf. conc. (1922); vn. conc. (1923); vc. conc. No.1 (1935), No.2 (1944); sym. in C♯ minor (adapted from 2nd str. qt.) (1932); sym. in C (1940).INCIDENTAL MUSIC: Das Fest auf Solhaug (Ibsen) (1889–90); Das Käthchen von Heilbronn (Kleist) (1905); Das Christelflein (Stach) (1906, reworked as opera 1917).CHORAL: Der Blumen Rache, ballad for alto, women's ch., and orch. (1888); Columbus, 8-part unacc. ch. (1905); Rundgesang zum Neujahrsfest, bass, ch., and pf. (1901); Von deutscher Seele, cantata for 4 soloists, ch., and orch. (1921, rev. 1937); Das dunkle Reich (1929).CHAMBER MUSIC: str. qt. No.1 (1902–3), No.2 (1925), No.3 (1942); pf. trio (1896); pf. quintet (1908); vc. sonata (1890); pf. sextet (1945).

Over 90 Lieder with pf. acc. and songs with orch.

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Hans Pfitzner

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