RECENT: Find out about composers from unusual places, including Gerard Schurmann, Giya Kancheli, Nazib Zhiganov and Nodar Gabunia, about singing in cars, and meet Jim Hutton from the RLPO and some of our regular contributors in this eighty-minute February 2021 video.
The German composer Hans Werner Henze was born in Gütersloh on 1 July 1926. As a child, he witnessed the branding of modern art, literature and music by the Nazis, which probably encouraged his later political and social engagement. (His choral ninth symphony of 1997 has been described as a defiant rejection of Nazi barbarism.)
As a radio officer in the war, serving at the Eastern Front, he was captured by the British and spent much of World War II in a prisoner of war camp. After the war he left Germany for Italy, disappointed with the political climate, and settled on the island of Ischia, where he was encouraged in his composing by William Walton.
His diverse gifts have drawn forth a formidable list of music covering most genres, including ten symphonies and more than forty stage works. His music theatre works have received special attention.
Henze died in Dresden on 27 October 2012, aged eighty-six.
CD Spotlight. A Strange Affair - Ulrich Heinen plays Bach and twentieth century composers, heard by the late Howard Smith. 'This snappy title with its hints of España and whimsical echoes of theatre is nailed to perfection by Heinen, as are all five modern works within the programme.'
Ensemble. Enthralling Music - Hans Werner Henze's 'The Bassarids', reviewed by Giuseppe Pennisi
Ensemble. A Long Musical Summer - Giuseppe Pennisi attended the Chigiana International Festival in Siena
Ensemble. A Triumph - Hans Werner Henze's love for Italy, and 'Gisella!' in Palermo, by Giuseppe Pennisi
Ensemble. A Sense of Unwinding - Roderic Dunnett marvels at Henze's Boulevard Solitude
An Invaluable Book - Gergely Hubai's 'Torn Music: Rejected film scores, a selected history', recommended by Patric Standford
Ensemble. Growing Up - Hans Werner Henze's 'Pollicino' thrills children and adults in Florence, by Giuseppe Pennisi
Ensemble. A Double Farewell - Henze and Mahler in Rome, reported by Giuseppe Pennisi
Ensemble. A New Dimension - Giuseppe Pennisi reports that chamber opera is alive and well
Record Box. Dazzling Works - Contemporary music from the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, recommended by Patric Standford
Postlude - Jennifer Paull writes on the 25th Anniversary of the death of Cathy Berberian
CD Spotlight. Slave labour - The political statements of Hans Werner Henze, investigated by Robert Anderson. '... sensuous richness ...'
Summa Summarum - Malcolm Miller attended the UK première of Henze's Ninth