GISELHER KLEBE (1925 - 2009)
Born in Mannheim in 1925, in Berlin Giselher Klebe was able to hide the Communist painter Fritz Ohse from the Gestapo and to meet other banned painters, including Paul Klee, while studying the work of forbidden composers such as Schoenberg and Stravinsky. After the war he studied with Josef Rufer and Boris Blacher. He later taught at Detmold, where he was appointed professor in 1962.
Klebe has made a particularly significant contribution to opera in Germany, beginning with his version of Schiller’s Die Räuber (‘The Robbers’) in 1955. A series of successful operas followed, many based on existing literary sources.
Klebe’s vocal music ranges from settings of Goethe and von Eichendorff to choral settings of the Stabat mater, a Christmas Oratorio, and settings of texts from Günter Grass.
Klebe’s work first came to wider notice with his Die Zwittermaschine (‘The Twittering Machine’), based on the famous work of Paul Klee. His Poèma drammatico, a concerto for two pianos and orchestra written in 1999, is a homage to Verdi, including quotations from the composer who had a decisive influence on Klebe’s own operas.
Chamber and Piano Music
Klebe has written a variety of chamber music, including three string quartets, as well as music for less usual combinations of instruments. His music for violin and piano includes two sonatas, Fantasia Incisiana, a Capriccio, and two sonatas for unaccompanied violin. He has also written music for piano duo, piano duet and solo piano, together with organ music.