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KARL AMADEUS HARTMANN

Karl Amadeus Hartmann was born in Munich on 2nd August 1905. He studied at the Academy of Music in Munich with Josef Haas, then became a student of Hermann Scherchen, and later of Anton Webern in Vienna. His first international success dates from 1935, when his symphony “Miserae” received its première at the Prague International Music Festival. A year later his first string quartet won first prize in the Carillon-Genf competition, and in 1939 audiences heard his Symphony “L’Oeuvre”.

During the years of World War II, little was heard of Hartmann outside Germany, but he continued to compose extensively. He was one of the first German artists to profess his pacifist creed and with a small group of his friends engaged in an underground resistance against the oppressive Nazi regime. His First Symphony (revised twice after the war) uses poems by the American, Walt Whitman. After the war, he cofounded a series of contemporary music concerts under the name of Musica Viva, in order to promote the music of composers who had suffered censorship during the Hitler regime.

In 1952 he was elected a member of the German Academy of Fine Arts and soon after became president of the German section of the International Society for Contemporary Music. Hartmann died in Munich on 5th December 1963. He left eight symphonies and other works for orchestra, two string quartets, vocal and chamber works. Musicologist Alfred Leonard summarized Hartmann’s music as follows: “It leaves an impression of deep seriousness, of contemplation rather than action, of widerange ideas, of never-flagging intensity, of a passion that carries the listener from climax to climax. This music knows hardly any relaxation, and its predominantly small tone steps lend it extraordinary tension.”

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