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


  • Born in Gütersloh (Westphalia) on July 1


  • Begins to study at the State Music School of Brunswick


  • Military service


  • Répétiteur at the Bielefeld Stadttheater


  • 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


  • Participates 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


  • Participates in the 3rd International summer courses for new music in Darmstadt, there studies in dodecaphony with René Leibowitz
  • Moves to Göttingen


  • Musical collaborator of Heinz Hilpert at the Deutsches Theater in Constance


  • 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


  • Robert-Schumann Prize of the city of Düsseldorf
  • First journey to Italy


  • Moves 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


  • Meets Igor Strawinsky, Franco Serpa and Frederick Ashton


  • Moves to Naples
  • Last visit of the Darmstadt International summer courses; meets Karlheinz Stockhausen


  • Sibelius Gold Medal, London
  • Meets Luchino Visconti


  • Great Arts Award of North Rhine-Westphalia



Great Arts Award of Berlin


  • Moves to Rome
  • Meets Paul Dessau and Ruth Berghaus
  • Meets Theodor W. Adorno
  • 1960-68: Member of the West-Berlin Akademie der Künste


  • Moves to Castel Gandolfo
  • Arts Award of Lower Saxony, Hanover


  • Master class for composition at the Salzburg Mozarteum (till 1967)


  • First journey to America; meets Aaron Copland in New York City;
  • Meets Jean Cocteau and Francis Poulenc in Paris
  • Meets Fausto Moroni in Rome


  • Member of the Bayerische Akademie der Schönen Künste, Munich


  • Participates in the election campaign for Willy Brandt (together with Ingeborg Bachmann and Günter Grass)
  • Meets Massimo Bogianckino and Elsa Morante


  • Moves to Marino, Villa La Leprara
  • First journey to Japan


  • Visiting professor at the Dartmouth College New Hampshire, USA
  • Meets Gastón Salvatore and Rudi Dutschke


  • Participates in the Berlin Vietnam-Congress
  • Associate member of the East Berlin Akademie der Künste der Berlin (GDR)
  • The world premiere of the oratorio „The Raft of the Medusa (Das Floß der Medusa)“ (dedicated to Che Guevara) in Hamburg being live broadcast by 22 European radio stations was cancelled after a police raid in the auditorium against students.


  • Teaching and research activities in La Habana, Cuba
  • Meets Miguel Barnet and the 108 old Estéban Montejo, protagonist of „El Cimarrón


  • Honorary doctorate of music of the University of Edinburgh
  • Meets Edward Bond


  • Honorary member of the Royal Academy of Music, London
  • Meets Jens Brockmeier


  • 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)


  • Meets Hans-Ulrich Treichel


  • Awards of the city of Positano for the ballets "Ondine" and "Orpheus"
  • Artistic director (honorary) of the Accademia Filarmonica Romana
  • Professor of composition at the Staatliche Hochschule für Musik in Cologne (till 1991)


  • Schriften und Gespräche 1955-79“, Henschel-Verlag, Berlin (GDR)
  • Artistic director of the Accademia Filarmonica Romana
  • Establishes and becomes artistic director of the Mürztaler Musikwerkstätten, Mürzzuschlag (Styria) (till 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



  • Various festivals in honour of Henze's 60th birthday in Vienna, Aldeburgh, Evian-Les-Bains, Gütersloh, London, Torino, Frankfurt/Main, Lucerne
  • Fiorino d'oro of the City of Florence


  • 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)


  • Establishes and becomes artistic director of the Münchener Biennale, Internationales Festival für neues Musiktheater (Munich) (till 1996)
  • Composer-in-Residence at the Berkshire Music Center in Tanglewood/MA (USA)


  • Artistic director of the Gütersloher Sommerakademie Hans Werner Henze
  • Artistic director of the Cantiere Internazionale d’Arte, Montepulciano (till 1991)


  • Music Award Ernst von Siemens
  • „Apollo d'oro“, Bilbao


  • Composer-in-Residence at the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
  • 2  major Henze festivals in London
  • Fellow of the Berlin Wissenschaftskolleg
  • 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


  • Member of the Academia Scientarium et Artium Europae, Salzburg


  • Music Award of the city of Duisburg in conjunction with the Köhler-Osbahr-Foundation
  • Accademico Onorario of the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, Rome


  • Reiselieder mit böhmischen Quinten. Autobiographische Mitteilungen“, S. Fischer Verlag Frankfurt/Main
  • Annette-von-Droste-Hülshoff Prize of the Landschaftsverband Westphalia-Lippe
  • pecial 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


  • 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



  • Praemium Imperiale, Tokyo


  • 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)





  • Premio "Franco Abbiati" della critica musicale italiana 2006 for the production of "Elegy for Young Lovers (Elegie für junge Liebende)" at the Teatro delle Muse, Ancona (staging, scenes and costumes: Pier Luigi Pizzi)
  • Henze festivals in Stockholm, Munich, Dortmund and Bünde (next to Bielefeld)


  • 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



  • 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)


  • 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
  • „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)


  • Lifetime Achievement Award of the GEMA Music Author's Award
  • Henze festival in Muenster/Westphalia


  • Henze-focus at the Semperoper Dresden
  • „Capell-Compositeur“ of the Sächsische Staatskapelle Dresden
  • Deceased on 27 October in Dresden


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

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