Composer of Our Time

Hans Werner Henze certainly has been one of the most important composers of our time. Having lived in Italy for nearly 60 years, he has developed his own distinct musical idiom rather influenced by the Italian sense of life. Henze's music "comes from theatre", as he often emphasized, it always used to take a political position, and the major human concerns tend to express themselves in and out of this music in a highly affecting manner.

Most of his 15 operas soon found their way into the international theatre repertory. The recording of his 10 symphonies, achieved by the Radio-Sinfonieorchester Berlin under Marek Janowski with WERGO has just been completed and was highly appreciated by the international music world.  His list of works contains pieces of all musical genres.

Having established the "Cantiere Internazionale d'Arte Montepulciano" and the "Münchener Biennale - Internationales Festival für Neues Musiktheater" Henze, as educator and promoter of young talents, has created two festivals which mark a solid start of many now important careers and have become essential events in the international music festival calendar.

Henze has received numerous distinctions - among them several honorary doctorates, the Japanese emperor's "praemium imperiale", the Grand Cross with Star of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany and the appointment as "Chevalier de la Légion d’honneur". He played an active part in the musical life - at last as "Capell-Compositeur" of the Dresden Staatskapelle, until he passed away.


Biographical Details

1926 Born in Gütersloh (Westphalia) on July 1
1942 Begins to study at the State Music School of Brunswick
1944 As a soldier, May 1944Military service
1945 Répétiteur at the Bielefeld Stadttheater
1946 Hans Werner Henze with René Leibowitz (left) and Peter StadlenStudies at the Institute for Church Music in Heidelberg and with Wolfgang Fortner

Participates in the 1st International summer courses for new music in Darmstadt
1947 HWH at 21Participates in the 2nd International summer courses for new music in Darmstadt
Meets, among others, Alexander Mitscherlich, Hans Mayer, Ricarda Huch, Karl Amadeus Hartmann, Hermann Scherchen, Grete Weil, Walter Jockisch and Jean-Pierre Ponnelle
1948 Participates in the 3rd International summer courses for new music in Darmstadt, there studies in dodecaphony with René Leibowitz

Moves to Göttingen
1949 Hans Werner Henze performs own compositions. House concert, Bielefeld February 2, 1949. Wilhelm Heiner, carbon/pastel chalk 1949Musical collaborator of Heinz Hilpert at the Deutsches Theater in Constance
1950 Moves to Berlin

Meets Boris Blacher, Heinz von Cramer, Rudolf Wagner-Régeny and Gottfried von Einem

Artistic director and conductor of the ballet of the Hessisches Staatstheater at Wiesbaden

Meets Luigi Nono
1951 Robert-Schumann Prize of the city of Düsseldorf

First journey to Italy
1952 with Ingeborg BachmannMoves to Munich

Meets Ingeborg Bachmann

Premio RAI (in the context of the Grand Prix Italia) for "Ein Landarzt" (A Country Doctor)
Settles in Italy, first at Forio D’Ischia

Meets William Walton, W.H. Auden and Chester Kallman
1954 with Igor Strawinsky, 1954Meets Igor Strawinsky, Franco Serpa and Frederick Ashton
1955 on the island of Ischia, 1954Moves to Naples

Last visit of the Darmstadt International summer courses; meets Karlheinz Stockhausen
1956 Sibelius Gold Medal, London

Meets Luchino Visconti
1957 rehearsing "Maratona di Danza". front: Jean Babilée, back (left to right): Renzo Vespignani, Hans Werner Henze, Dick Sanders, Luchino Visconti. Berlin 1957. Foto: Sanford RothGreat Arts Award of North Rhine-Westphalia
1958 with Margot Fonteyn and Frederick Ashton after the Premiere of "Ondine", London 1958„Undine. Tagebuch eines Balletts“, Piper Verlag München
Music Critics Award Buenos Aires

Meets Hans Magnus Enzensberger
1959 Great Arts Award of Berlin
1960 HWH and Paul DessauMoves to Rome

Meets Paul Dessau and Ruth Berghaus

Meets Theodor W. Adorno
1960-68 Member of the West-Berlin Akademie der Künste
1961 Moves to Castel Gandolfo

Arts Award of Lower Saxony, Hanover
1962-67 Master class for composition at the Salzburg Mozarteum
1963 First journey to America; meets Aaron Copland in New York City;

Meets Jean Cocteau and Francis Poulenc in Paris

Meets Fausto Moroni in Rome
1964 Member of the Bayerische Akademie der Schönen Künste, Munich
1965 Participates in the election campaign for Willy Brandt (together with Ingeborg Bachmann and Günter Grass)

Meets Massimo Bogianckino and Elsa Morante
1966 Dresden 19661966: World premiere of „The Bassarids”, Salzburg Festival 1966. from left to right: Gustev Rudolf Sellner, Chester Kallman, W. A. Auden, H. W. Henze
Moves to Marino, Villa La Leprara

First journey to Japan
1967 Visiting professor at the Dartmouth College New Hampshire, USA

Meets Gastón Salvatore and Rudi Dutschke
1968 Participates in the Berlin Vietnam-Congress

Associate member of the East Berlin Akademie der Künste der Berlin (GDR)

The world premiere of the oratorio „Das Floß der Medusa“ (Che Guevara gewidmet) in Hamburg being live broadcast by 22 European radio stations was cancelled after a police raid in the auditorium against students.
1969-70 Teaching and research activities in La Habana, Cuba

Meets Miguel Barnet and the 108 old Estéban Montejo, protagonist of „El Cimarrón“
1971 Berlin 1971Honorary doctorate of music of the University of Edinburgh
Meets Edward Bond
1975 Honorary member of the Royal Academy of Music, London

Meets Jens Brockmeier
1976 „Musik und Politik. Schriften und Gespräche 1955-76“, dtv, München

Ludwig-Spohr Prize of the city of Brunswick

Establishes the Cantiere Internazionale d'Arte in Montepulciano (Tuscany)

Journey to Australia

Secondary residence in London (Knightsbridge)
1979 Meets Hans-Ulrich Treichel

Montepulciano 1980, HWH and the original cast of

Awards of the city of Positano for the ballets "Ondine" and "Orpheus"

Artistic director (honorary) of the Accademia Filarmonica Romana

1980-91 Professor of composition at the Staatliche Hochschule für Musik in Cologne
1981 „Schriften und Gespräche 1955-79“, Henschel-Verlag, Berlin (GDR)

Artistic director of the Accademia Filarmonica Romana
1981-83 Establishes and becomes artistic director of the Mürztaler Musikwerkstätten, Mürzzuschlag (Styria)
1982 „Music and Politics. Collected Writings 1953-81“, Faber & Faber, London

Honorary member of the Berlin Deutsche Oper

Honorary memberg of the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters, New York
1983 „Die Englische Katze. Ein Arbeitstagebuch“, S. Fischer Verlag Frankfurt/Main

Bach Prize of the Free Hanseatic City of Hamburg

Associate member of the Deutschen Akademie für Sprache und Dichtung, Darmstadt

Composer-in-Residence at the Berkshire Music Centre in Tanglewood/MA (USA)

Composer-in-Residence at the Cabrillo Music Festival in Aptos/CA (USA)

Meets Michael Kerstan at the Schwetzingen Festival
1984 „Musik und Politik. Schriften und Gespräche 1955-84“, erweiterte Neuauflage, dtv München
1984-86 HWH and Ruth BerghausEstablishes and becomes artistic director of the Deutschlandsberger
Jugendmusikfest (Styria)
1986 Various festivals in honour of Henze's 60th birthday in Vienna, Aldeburgh, Evian-Les-Bains, Gütersloh, London, Torino, Frankfurt/Main, Lucerne

HWH and Gerd Albrecht, SFB TV concert on March 28, 1987: Barcarola

International Chair for Composition at the Royal Academy of Music, London

World premiere of an operatic project of his cologne masterclass: „Die Regentrude“ with more than 250 participants in Alsfeld/Hesse (conductor: Markus Stenz, stage director: Michael Kerstan, secnes and costumes: Hermann Haindl)
1988-96 Establishes and becomes artistic director of the Münchener Biennale, Internationales Festival für neues Musiktheater (Munich)
1988 HWH and Fausto Moroni in their Munich Apartment, 1988. © Regine KörnerComposer-in-Residence at the Berkshire Music Center in Tanglewood/MA (USA)
1989 Artistic director of the Gütersloher Sommerakademie Hans Werner Henze
1989-91 Artistic director of the Cantiere Internazionale d’Arte, Montepulciano

Granting of the Award 'Ernst von Siemens', May 10, 1990. Center: Heinz Friedrich (President of the Bayerischen Akademie der schönen Künste), right: Richard von Weizsaecker, president of the Federal Republic of Germany. Photo: dpa/MächlerMusic Award Ernst von Siemens

„Apollo d'oro“, Bilbao
1991 Composer-in-Residence at the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra

Fellow of the Berlin Wissenschaftskolleg
2  major Henze festivals in London

Award of the International Theatre Institute (ITI)

Grand Cross of the Order of Merit, Federal Republic of Germany

"München leuchtet" Medal in gold

Honorary member of the International Society of New Music
1992 HWH and Fausto Moroni, Marino 1994Member of the Academia Scientarium et Artium Europae, Salzburg
1995 Music Award of the city of Duisburg in conjunction with the Köhler-Osbahr-Foundation

Accademico Onorario of the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, Rome
1996 HWH and Prof. Dr. Reinhold Kreile 1996„Reiselieder mit böhmischen Quinten. Autobiographische Mitteilungen“, S. Fischer Verlag Frankfurt/Main

Annette-von-Droste-Hülshoff Prize of the Landschaftsverband Westphalia-Lippe

Special Cultural Award of the city of Munich

Honorary doctorate of the University of Osnabrück

Honorary Citizen of the city of Montepulciano

President of the Contemporary Opera Studio, English National Opera, London

Extensive Henze festival in Basel

 HWH and Wolfgang Rihm, on the occasion of the world premiere of his “Sinfonia N.9”, Berlin 1997HWH, Ingo Metzmacher (left), and Paul Sacher (right), world premiere of the “Sinfonia N.9”, Berlin 1997

Honorary Citizen of the city of Marino (Roma)

Hans-von-Bülow Medal of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra

Workshop „Composing in Schools“ with teachers at the Nord-Kolleg Rendsburg in the context of the Schleswig-Holstein Festival

1998 Honorary Fellow of the Royal Northern College of Music, Manchester 1998„Komponieren in der Schule. Notizen aus einer Werkstatt“, Schott-Verlag Mainz

„Bohemian Fifths. An Autobiography“, Faber & Faber, London

Bayerischer Maximilian Order for Science and Art

Honorary Fellow of the Royal Northern College of Music, Manchester

Premio "Franco Abbiati" 1998 of the Associazione Nazionale Critici Musicali für the production of "Venus und Adonis" at the Teatro Carlo Felice in Genoa

Granting of the Premium Imperiale, Arts award of the Emperor of Japan, Tokyo 2000Praemium Imperiale, Tokyo

2001 Cannes Classical Award in the category "Best Living Composer"

Deutscher Tanzpreis 2001 (German Dance Award)

extense Henze festival of the NDR in Hamburg

Laurence Olivier Award 2000 in the category "Best New Opera Production" for "Boulevard Solitude" at the Royal Opera House London (staging: Nikolaus Lehnhoff)

2003 World premiere of “L’Upupa”, Salzburg Festival 2003. Alfred Muff (the old man), Laura Aikin (the girl Bad’jat)„L’Upupa. Nachtstücke aus dem Morgenland. Autobiographische Mitteilungen“, Propyläen- München

Chevalier de la Légion d’honneur, Paris

Performance of all 10 symphonies at the festival "Présences" in Paris

Prize "Neues Hören" of the Internationale Sommerakademie Mozarteum (encouraged and financed by the foundation  „Neue Musik im Dialog“, Cologne) for successful presentation of New Music
2004 „Canciones de viaje con quintas Bohemias“, Antonio Machado Ediciones, Madrid

„Briefe einer Freundschaft“ (Briefwechsel mit Ingeborg Bachmann), Piper-Verlag München

Honorary doctorate of the Staatliche Hochschule für Musik und Theater, Munich

Meets Christian Lehnert
2005 „Canti di viaggio. Una vita“, Il Saggiatore, Mailand 2005

Serious illness

Henze festivals in Dublin and Madrid
2006 Premio "Franco Abbiati" della critica musicale italiana 2006 for the production of Elegie for Young Lovers at the Teatro delle Muse, Ancona (staging, scenes and costumes: Pier Luigi Pizzi)

Henze festivals in Stockholm, Munich, Dortmund and Bünde (next to Bielefeld)

Hans Werner Henze in his studio, Marino 2007. © Michael Kerstan

„Phaedra. Ein Werkbuch“, Verlag Klaus Wagenbach, Berlin

Grand Cross with Star of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany
Fausto Moroni dies at 63

2008 „Lettere da un’amicizia“ (Correspondence Bachmann-Henze), EDT, Torino
2009 Premio "Franco Abbiati" for the Italian premiere of Phaedra at the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino 2008 (Conductor: Roberto Abbado, Stage director: Michael Kerstan, Scene and costume designer: Nanà Cecchi)

Granting of the honorary doctorate (HONDMUS) of the Royal College of Music, London by Prinz Charles 2010. © Chris Christodoulou

Honorary Doctor of Music of Royal College of Music, London

European Culture Award of the KulturForum Europa

Premio Ardinghello of the Faculty of German Studies at the University of Florence

Aquila d‘Oro of the Associazione Corfinium onlus for his merits for the Italian culture

HWH and Helmut Lachenmann 2011. Photo: Christiane Krautscheid„Henze-Project“ of the Cultural Capital of Europe Ruhr.2010 presenting more than 250 performances of his oeuvre, among these 10 operas and ballets (the largest retrospective ever dedicated to a living composer)

2011 HWH and Michael Kerstan, birthday party July 1, 2011. Photo: Christiane KrautscheidLifetime Achievement Award of the GEMA Music Author's Award

Henze festival in Muenster/Westphalia
2012 HWH with Georg Christoph Biller and Riccardo Panfili, Leipzig 2012. Photo: Michael KerstanHenze-focus at the Semperoper Dresden

„Capell-Compositeur“ of the Sächsische Staatskapelle Dresden

Deceased on 27 October in Dresden

October: posthumous granting of the honorary doctorate of the University of Florence (Link zum Artikel)

2015 September: posthumous granting of the "Grifo Poliziano" for his merits in promoting the city of Montepulciano internationally