Henze, Hans Werner

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Henze, Hans Werner

Hans Werner Henze (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 Stravinsky, Hindemith, and Bartók. In his first violin concerto (1947) he took up twelve-tone writing, but he did not confined himself to that method (see also serial music). 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 Seghers'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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