Desk in the studio of HWH on La Leprara, 2018
© Anton Giulio Onofri

Desk in the studio on La Leprara

Desk of HWH in his studio on La Leprara. The design with the tilting desk is his own.
The photo shows the desk as Henze had last left it. On the left you can see a tutorial on orchestration by Cecil Forsyth, which he consulted regularly.

The photograph by Anton Giulio Onofri gives a good insight into Hans Werner Henze's working environment as a composer, showing the composer's desk just as he left it shortly before his death. The desk was made by a master carpenter from Albano according to Henze's designs; a remarkable feature is the console that can be lowered into the tabletop. It enabled the artist to write on music paper with 64 staves. On the console you can see sketches for his last piece, Ouverture zu einem Theater, written for the 100th anniversary of the Deutsche Oper Berlin in 2012, alongside initial ideas for a new work planned for the Dresdner Staatskapelle. On the right are the pencils, arranged in size so that he always had a sharpened pencil at hand without looking, and an electric pencil sharpener. Behind them, in a small bowl, a number of erasers, according to Henze "the most important tool of a composer". To the left of the console is the textbook on orchestration by composer and musicologist Cecil Forsyth (1870-1941), whose first edition, Orchestration, dates back to 1914. The maestro consulted the textbook until the very end, although he was perhaps the most accomplished colleague of his time in the field of orchestration. (On the far left you can see the revised edition of the Italian version of Henze's autobiography, Canti di viaggio.) In the background there is the piano on which the author used to check the harmonic relationships of his inventions, a special construction by the house of Ibach.

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