Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

October 29, 2012

German composer Hans Werner Henze dies age 86

Filed under: Germany,music,obituary — louisproyect @ 3:24 pm

guardian.co.uk, Saturday 27 October 2012 14.58 BST


Elegy For Young Lovers

Steven Page in Elegy For Young Lovers, staged by English National Opera at London’s Young Vic theatre in April 2010. Photograph: Tristram Kenton

The death of German composer Hans Werner Henze has been announced today.

Schott Music said that Henze, 86, died on Saturday in Dresden; the cause of death has not been disclosed, but Henze’s health has been frail since suffering from a serious illness in his late 70s that left him incapacitated for two months in 2005.

Henze’s work over the decades straddled musical genres.
He composed stage works, symphonies, concertos, chamber works and a requiem. He once said that “many things wander from the concert hall to the stage and vice versa.”

Henze was born July 1, 1926 in Gütersloh in western Germany. After studying and begun his career in Germany, he moved to Italy in 1953. Having lived through fascism, he became a committed communist, and many of his works of the 60s and 70s have an explicitly political inspiration (his Sixth Symphony was composed for Cuba). But the expressive freedom of Henze’s music put him at odds with the post-war avant-garde. In Italy – in Ischia and latterly in a house in the hills outside Rome, he developed a language of searing, abundant poetry that drew on the Austro-German tradition from Beethoven to Berg yet was also infused with Mediterranean lightness and modernist astringency. His many operas, from Boulevard Solitude in 1951 to his final works in the genre, Phaedra, written in 2007 and Gisela, 2010, belong to the most important canon of theatrical works of our time (including We Come To The River, composed for Covent Garden in 1976); his series of 10 symphonies and other large-scale works are among the most significant reinvigorations of the orchestral tradition in the post-war period.

Leave a Comment »

No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: