Hans Werner Henze

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Henze, Hans Werner

(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 StravinskyStravinsky, Igor Fedorovich
, 1882–1971, Russian-American composer. Considered by many the greatest and most versatile composer of the 20th cent., Stravinsky helped to revolutionize modern music.

Stravinsky's father, an actor and singer in St.
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, HindemithHindemith, Paul
, 1895–1963, German-American composer and violist, b. Hanau, Germany. Hindemith combined experimental and traditional techniques into a distinctively modern style. After studying at the Frankfurt Conservatory, he began his career as a viola player.
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, and BartókBartók, Béla
, 1881–1945, Hungarian composer and collector of folk music. He studied (1899–1903) and later taught piano at the Royal Academy, Budapest.
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. In his first violin concerto (1947) he took up twelve-tone writing, but he did not confined himself to that method (see also serial musicserial music,
the body of compositions whose fundamental syntactical reference is a particular ordering (called series or row) of the twelve pitch classes—C, C#, D, D#, E, F, F#, G, G#, A, A#, B—that constitute the equal-tempered scale.
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). 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 SeghersSeghers, Anna
, 1900–1983, German novelist, whose original name was Netty Reiling Rádvanyi. She won fame with her first novel of social protest, The Revolt of the Fishermen, (1929, tr. 1930), but in 1933 she was forced to leave Germany.
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'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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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Henze, Hans Werner


Born July 7, 1926, in Gütersloh. German composer (Federal Republic of Germany).

Henze studied composition with W. Fortner in Heidelberg and with R. Leibowitz in Paris. He lived in Wiesbaden from 1950 to 1952 and took up residence in Italy in 1953. Henze’s numerous operas include King Stag (1956, West Berlin), The Prince of Homburg (1960, Heidelberg), Elegy for Young Lovers (1961, Schwetzingen), and The Young Lord (1965, West Berlin). His ballets include The Idiot (1952, West Berlin; based on the novel by Dostoevsky), The Dance Marathon (1957, West Berlin), and Ondine (1958, London). He has also composed symphonies and vocal and instrumental works.

Henze uses a variety of modern compositional techniques with out adhering to any particular school. In such works as the oratorio The Raft of the Medusa, the chamber cantata El Cimarrón, and The Long Road to the House of Natascha Ungeheuer (a vocal work for 17 performers) Henze touches on crucial social and political problems but does not arrive at an ideologically consistent solution for them.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.