Preeminent German Composer Hans Werner Henze Has Died At 86
One of the world's foremost composers, Hans Werner Henze (Hen-tse ) has died in Dresden at the age of 86 . Henze may possibly be the last in a long line of great German and Austrian composers beginning with Bach ,Handel, Haydn, Mozart ,Beethoven , Schubert, Schumann, Mendelssohn, Brahms, Bruckner ,Mahler ,Richard Strauss , Hindemith and his eccentric contemporary Karlheinz Stockhausen, who passed away in 2007 .
Henze was born in the northwestern region of Westphalia in 1926 , studied with the composer Wolfgang Fortner , who is little known outside of Germany today , and began to make a reputation as one of Germany's most promsing young composers . He developed a highly eclectic style of composition , sometimes using 12-tone serialism and at other times adapting a neo-classical style influenced by Stravinsky while maintaining a distinctive voice of his own .
Henze was a confirmed left-winger and an unabashed Marxist ,maintaining his ties with various communist parties in Europe, including that of italy where he settled after the second world war , as well as spending time in Cuba where he taught and composed works with a decided Marxist bias . He was also active as a teacher at leading European avant-garde music centers and in America , which he visited regularly , and was active as a conductor , not only of his own music .
Henze composed prolifically in virtually all musical idioms ; operas, symphonies, concertos,ballet and film scores , choral works , chamber music etc , including no fewer than 15 operas and 10 symphonies . Among his best known operas are Der Junge Lord (the young lord ) a bizarre black comedy about an eccentric English nobleman who visits a small German town , passing an ape off as his nephew with weird results , the Bassarids, based on Greek mythology , Elegy For Young Lovers , Konig Hirsch ( king of the stags ) , and the political opera We Come To The River . They have been performed regularly by virtually all of the leading European opera companies , though not quite as often in America, and the Metropolitan opera has yet to perform any of them. Perhaps this will change sometime in the future .
His works are hardly easy listening , but they are by no means as esoteric and abstruse as those of Pierre Boulez, Elliott Carter , Stockhausen and Milton Babbitt , for example , and his orchestral works feature sumptuous and highly colorful orchestration . Many eminent conductors , such as Christoph von Dohnanyi, former music director of the Clevenad orchestra , Sir Simon Rattle ,Kurt Masur , Sir Georg Solti and others, have performed his orchestral works all over the world , and most of his output has been recorded , including the composer conducting . Many of these recordings are on the Deutsche Grammophon label .
Only time will tell how posterity sees Henze's music , but the world of classical music has lost one of its most important figures .