Werner Egk

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Egk, Werner


Born May 17, 1901, in Auchsesheim, near Augsburg. German composer and musical figure (Federal Republic of Germany). Member of the Bavarian Academy of Fine Arts (1951).

Egk received his musical education at the Augsburg Conservatory and pursued further study in Munich with C. Orff. He became known in the 1930’s as a conductor and took up residence in Munich in 1954. Egk’s work, which developed under the influence of R. Strauss, Hindemith, and Stravinsky, is based on elements drawn from the folklore of ancient Germany, which are transformed through various modern compositional techniques. Egk’s finest compositions have generally been written to his own librettos taken from the classics of world literature. Examples are the operas Peer Gynt (1938, based on the play by Ibsen), The Inspector-General (1957, based on the play by Gogol), and Betrothal in Santo Domingo (1963, based on themes from the short story by Kleist). Egk has served as head of the German Composers’ Association.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
In fact, French works were heard with surprising frequency, despite efforts to buttress German superiority through regular performances of Beethoven, Wagner, Richard Strauss, and Werner Egk, a Nazi favorite.
Her contribution to this particular collection is a stunning performance of Quattro Canzoni by Werner Egk (1901-1983), an imaginative German composer whose music deserves far wider hearing.
He wants to challenge preconceptions of what a counter-tenor recital is, so he's doing Samuel Barber's Dover Beach, an Arvo Part piece and a piece by Werner Egk. You don't get these opportunities at the Wigmore Hall."
Two composers, Werner Egk and Carl Orff, were modernists who made very substantial political compromises with National Socialism.
For instance, the New Grove entry for Werner Egk does not mention that he was head of the composer's section of the Reichsmusikkammer (RMK) during 1941-45, and the entries for many similar figures likewise conveniently gloss over those same years.
It is a good moment for an appraisal of this subject, so fraught with snares on all sides, because Oxford University Press has just published Michael Kater's Composers of the Nazi Era: Eight Portraits, which discusses the political difficulties and evasions of Werner Egk, Paul Hindemith, Kurt Weill, Karl Amadeus Hartmann, Carl Orff, Hans Pfitzner, Arnold Schoenberg, and Richard Strauss.
He openly fraternized with high German officials; attended parties with Wehrmacht officers; choreographed the ballet Joan de Zarissa to a score by Werner Egk, who stood high in the Nazi musical establishment; had his bust done by another favored Nazi artist, Arno Brecker; wired his congratulations to the Reich ambassador in Paris on the Nazi "liberation" of his birthplace, Kiev.
Favored composers such as Werner Egk employed aspects of jazz and modern music, labeled "Entartete" [degenerate] by the Nazis, quite freely, while others who employed similar styles were banned or censored.