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Hans Werner Henze, who has died aged 86, was among the most prolific and successful of contemporary German composers. His systematic study of music only began after the war, with Wolfgang Fortner, and later with visits to Darmstadt and absorption of serial technique, to be used with great originality in a musical language that was also influenced by Stravinsky. In 1953 he left Germany because of a perceived intolerance of his political views and homosexuality, and moved to Italy, where he maintained a home base for most of his life. He gradually developed his leaning towards the political New Left, reflected in some of his music and choices of texts and themes. His festival activities at Montepulciano and his involvement with the Munich Biennale, among others, enabled him to exercise a strong influence on the course and promotion of contemporary music.

Henze is perhaps best known for his many successful operas and dramatic works ranging from Das Wundertheater premiered in 1947 to Gisela! or the Strange and Memorable Ways of Happiness, staged in 2010. Henze also wrote a series of ballets and incidental music for the cinema and the theatre.

An exceptionally wide range of orchestral music includes 10 symphonies, concertos for piano, for violin and, for Gary Karr, a double bass concerto, as well as a double concerto for oboe and harp for Heinz and Ursula Holliger.  His chamber music output ranges from string quartets, to music for a variety of ensembles, including sonatas for violin, for viola and for flute and piano.  He also wrote works for various solo instruments, for violin, double bass, cello, marimba, harpsichord, trumpet, and solo guitar.

Vocal and choral music by Henze is equally varied and remarkable, including the enchanting Five Neapolitan Songs written for Fischer-Dieskau Novae de infinito laudes (New Praises of the Infinite), the Virgilian Muses of Sicily and the controversial Das Floss der ‘Medusa’ (The Raft of the Medusa).

His autobiography, Bohemian Fifths, was published by Stewart Spencer in November 1998.

Featured Titles

HENZE, H.W.: Guitar Music, Vol. 1 (Halasz) - Royal Winter Music No. 2 / 3 Tentos / Neue Volkslieder und Hirtengesange
Colin Balzer • Debora Halasz • Franz Halasz • Sebastian Hess
Karsten Nagel • Sophia Reuter • Gottfried Schneider

Naxos 8.557344
HENZE, H.W.: Guitar Music, Vol. 2 (Halasz) - Royal Winter Music No. 1 / Carillon, Recitatif, Masque / Ode an eine Aolsharfe
Reinbert Evers • Cristina Bianchi • Franz Halasz
Anna Torge • Ensemble Oktopus • Konstantia Gourzi •

Naxos 8.557345
HENZE: Violin Concertos Nos. 1 and 3 / 5 Night-Pieces
Peter Sheppard Skaerved • Aaron Shorr
Saarbrucken Radio Symphony Orchestra
Christopher Lyndon-Gee, Conductor

Naxos 8.557738
LINDBERG, M.: Mano a mano / TAKEMITSU, T.: Mori no naka de / HENZE, H.: Guitar Sonata No. 1 (Korhonen)
Timo Korhonen
Ondine ODE1091-2
HENZE, H.W.: Junge Lord (Der) (Deutsche Oper Berlin, 1968) (NTSC)
Edith Mathis • Donald Grobe • Barry McDaniel • Loren Driscoll
Vera Little • Manfred Röhrl • Ivan Sardi • Ernst Krukowski
Helmut Krebs • Otto Graf • Margarete Ast • Gitta Mikes
Lisa Otto • Bella Jasper • Schöneberger Sängerknaben
Chorus and Orchestra of Deutsche Oper Berlin
Christoph von Dohnányi, conductor
Gustav Rudolf Sellner, stage director

EuroArts 2072398
HENZE, H.W.: Ondine (Royal Ballet, 2009) (Blu-ray, HD)
Miyako Yoshida • Edward Watson • Genesia Rosato
Ricardo Cervera • Gary Avis
Royal Ballet • Royal Opera House Orchestra
Barry Wordsworth, conductor
Frederick Ashton, choreographer

Opus Arte OABD7064D [Blu-Ray]; OA1030D [DVD]
HENZE, H.W.: Symphony No. 8 / Nachtstucke und Arien / Die Bassariden: Adagio, Fuge und Manadentanz (Barainsky, Cologne Gurzenich Orchestra, Stenz)
Claudia Barainsky • Ingeborg Bachmann
Cologne Gurzenich Orchestra • Markus Stenz, Conductor

Phoenix Edition Phoenix113
HENZE: Boulevard Solitude (Liceu, 2007) (NTSC)
Laura Aikin • Pär Lindskog • Tom Fox • Hubert Delamboye
Pauls Putniņš • Marc Canturri • Basil Patton
Cor de Cambra del Palau de la Música Catalana
Jordi Casas i Bayer, chorus master
Cor Vivaldi: Petits Cantors de Catalunya
Òscar Boada, chorus master
Orquestra Simfònica del Gran Teatre del Liceu
Zoltán Peskó, conductor
Nikolaus Lehnhoff, stage director

EuroArts 2056358
HENZE: l'autunno / HINDEMITH: Kleine Kammermusik
Berlin Philharmonic Wind Quintet
HENZE: L'Upupa
Laura Aikin • John Mark Ainsley • Matthias Goerne
Axel Kohler • Alfred Muff
Vienna State Opera Chorus
Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
Markus Stenz ,Conductor

EuroArts 2053929
HENZE: Prinz von Homburg (Der) (PAL)
Claes-Hakan Ahnsjo • William Cochran • Helga Dernesch
MariAnne Haggander • Hans Gunter Nocker • Francois Le Roux
Bavarian State Opera Chorus
Bavarian State Orchestra • Wolfgang Sawallisch, Conductor

Arthaus Musik 100164

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