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Hans Werner Henze Edit Profile

composer , conductor

Hans Werner Henze is considered to be one of the most important German composers after World War II. His prolific oeuvre of works is extremely varied in style, having been influenced by serialism, atonality, Stravinsky, Italian music, Arabic music and jazz, as well as traditional schools of German composition.


Hans Henze was born in Güterisloh,Guterisloh, Westphalia, July 1, 1926. Hans was the oldest of six children of a teacher, and showed early interest in art and music. That and his political views led to conflict with his conservative father.

Henze's father, Franz, had served in the First World War and was wounded at Verdun. He worked as a teacher in a school at Bielefeld, formed on progressive lines, but it was closed in 1933 by government order because its progressive style was out of step with official views.

Franz Henze then moved to Dünne, a small village near Bünde. There his views started to change towards the Nazi ideology: books by Jewish and Christian authors were replaced in the Henze household by literature reflecting Nazi views. He expected his whole family was expected to fall into line with Franz's new thinking. The older boys, including Hans, were enrolled in the Hitler Youth.


Henze began studies at the state music school of Braunschweig in 1942, where he studied piano, percussion, and theory.


Artistic director Ballet Hessian State Theatre, Wiesbaden, 1950. Professor composition Mozarteum, Salzburg, 1962—1967, Hochschule Music, Cologne, 1980—1991. Director Accademia Filarmonica Romana, Rome, since 1981, Munich Biennale, 1988, 1990, 1992, 1994, 1996.

President Contemporary Opera Studio English National Opera, since 1996.


  • Henze's output includes opera, ballet, symphonies, chamber music, and vocal music His operas have attracted wide attention and include Boulevard Solitude (1951), a modern treatment of the Manon Lescaut story that amalgamates blues, jazz, and 12-tone passages; Elegy for Young Lovers (1961) ON DUPLICATE KEY UPDATE `description` = VALUES(`description`); The Young Lord (1965) ON DUPLICATE KEY UPDATE `description` = VALUES(`description`); The Bassarids (1966), a grand-scaled work to a libretto by Chester Kallman and W. H. Auden that calls for 63 singers and three orchestras; We Come to the River (1976) ON DUPLICATE KEY UPDATE `description` = VALUES(`description`); and The English Cat (1985).

    His commissions include several by United States ensembles. The New York Philharmonic commissioned his Fifth Symphony in 1962, and the Chicago Symphony commissioned Heliogabalus Imperator, an "Allegoria per musica," premiered in 1973.



Akademie der Kiinste, Berlin 1960-1968, Bayerische Akademie der Schonen Kiinste, Munich.


  • Other Interests

    Poetry, botany.


Franz Henze

Margarete (Geldmacher) Henze