HARALD BANTER (b 1930 )
Harald Banter was born in Gerd von Wysocki on 16 March 1930 in Berlin, the son of the artistic director of the Lindstrom-Odeon Record Company. He had his own training in recording with Berlin Radio and was a composition pupil of Johannes Pranschke and Georg Haentzschel. In 1950 he became a programme producer with North West German Radio in Cologne and two years later founded the Harald Banter Ensemble, later the Media-Band, working principally for West German Radio. In 1955 he took part in the UNESCO International Music Conference at Gravesano with Hermann Scherchen and the following year gave his first jazz concert at the Cologne Gürzenich with Albert Mangelsdorff and made a joint appearance with the Modern Jazz Quartet in the Light Music Week in Stuttgart, performing Gunther Schullers Twelve by Eleven. He went on to take composition lessons with Bernd Alois Zimmermann and in 1957 collaborated with Hans Werner Henze in the Visconti ballet Maratona, first performed in Cologne under Hans Rosbaud. In the following years came performances of Banters Kantate 58 in Cologne and the ballet Diana sorpresa at the Munich Gärtnerplatz Theatre.
In the 1960s Banter directed a jazz class at the Duisburg Conservatory and took part in master-courses for composition at Schloss Brühl for the Cologne Musikhochschule under the direction of Henze. There followed further work for broadcasting with Media-Band, teaching and seminars and, in 1979, activity in the editing, production and direction of music for West German Radio, with productions of work by Kurt Weill and the rediscovery of operettas by Suppé, Strauss, Millöcker and Offenbach, as well as of dramatic musical work by contemporary composers. The same year brought the first performance of his Concerto for soprano saxophone and jazz orchestra, followed in 1981 by the first performance of his Amores, based on Ovid, for tenor, speaker, chrous and jazz orchestra.
In the 1980s Banters career continued with increasing distinction, performances and recordings with his newly founded ensemble Vier plus Sechs (Four plus Six), appointment as Vice-President of the German Composers Union, the award in 1990 of the Silver Leaf of the Dramatic Union and of the Silver Medal of the German Composers Union for his services to German music. In 1994 he was awarded the title Honorary Professor by the Ministry of Science and Research of North Rhine-Westphalia.