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Henze at 80

Sunday 8 October 2006 21:30-22:15 (Radio 3)

In a reassessment of Hans Werner Henze in his 80th birthday year, Piers Burton-Page talks to not only the composer himself, but a clutch of people who know him well. They include Oliver Knussen, a composer who's conducted much of Henze's work; pianist Paul Crossley; Munich opera boss Peter Jonas, who has championed much of his work; the singer Ian Bostridge; Sally Groves, Henze's long-time publisher; and the German composer, Detlev Glanert.

Duration:

45 minutes

Henze in audio


Hans Werner HenzeDespite a 50 year composing career, Hans Werner Henze remains an enigma. His life mirrors the political and artistic intricacies of the last century, yet conforming, because of social, artistic and political pressures, is something he feels brings the composer's intentions into question.

During his childhood he watched his father's liberal political beliefs turn into Nazi dogma. Artistically he had bruising encounters with modernism at Darmstadt and elsewhere, and before he reached the age of 30 escaped what for him was the tainted soil of Germany and started afresh in Italy . The Henze catalogue is enormous: a dozen stage works, operas, music dramas, theatre pieces, ballets, ten symphonies, a similar number of concertos, and countless other orchestral and chamber works.

The olive grove at Henze's villa in ItalyIn a reassessment of Henze in his 80th birthday year, Piers Burton-Page talks to not only the composer himself, but a clutch of people who know him well. Oliver Knussen, a composer himself, but who's conducted much of Henze's work. Paul Crossley the pianist, once artistic director of the London Sinfonietta, a favourite Henze ensemble. Peter Jonas, opera boss in London and more recently Munich who has championed much of his work, the singer Ian Bostridge, Sally Groves from Henze's long-time publisher Schotts, and a younger composer giving the German perspective, Detlev Glanert.

Piers Burton Page with an olive treeHis life has spanned the great political and artistic crises of the last century, yet for someone as meticulous and as politically and self aware as Henze, it was never going to be easy. In a low moment, feeling his Sixth Symphony was a failure, he called it A Report on Difficulty





Illness The programme includes a rare, frank interview with Hans Werner Henze after illness left him debilitated for much of the last year.

Henze in reflective mood: "If you want to make yourself more aware of your qualities and mistakes, it helps to remember. I think remembering is very important ... memory. It is astonishing to see what the old times have for me. Misdeeds, mistakes, errors. Self betrayal, self deceit ... It's all done."

Henze: "I have been loved enormously and I still love enormously, but in my case it always had to do with achievement. I had to be good as a composer, and everything else would have fallen into place."

Knussen: "I can't think of that many serious composers whose music stands up both as music and as a document of what they were reflecting at the time. "

Bostridge: "He was brought up at a monstrous time. His childhood was dominated by Nazis and a bad relationship with his father. I think his whole life since then has been an effort to escape from that horrific monstrous German nightmare. He's created in Italy this idyllic Italian life of spretzzatura and lightness."

Groves : "He will always think of himself as an outsider, because he feels in a very romantic and nineteenth century way that that's what artists should be."

Politics The Raft of the 'Medusa' caused a scandal at its 1968 première - it was cancelled as the choir refused to sing in front of a red flag and Henze refused to conduct because there were policemen in the hall. Similar musical support for Castro's Cuba or the Sixties student protests or the anti-Vietnam-war movement, in pieces such as El Cimarron or Essay on Pigs or the opera We Come to the River to Edward Bond's libretto, made Henze a controversial figure just when he was at the height of his powers.




Listen to the interview with Henze. Section 1 - Birthdays
Listen to the interview with Henze. Section 2 - Memories of Home and Dreaming
Listen to the interview with Henze. Section 3 - Animals
Listen to the interview with Henze. Section 4 - Stravinsky and Schoenberg
Listen to the interview with Henze. Section 5 - Cuba
Listen to the interview with Henze. Section 6 - World revolution
Listen to the interview with Henze. Section 7 - Warwick Castle
Listen to the interview with Henze. Section 8 - Why write music?

Contributors

Hans Werner Henze

Ian Bostridge, singer
Paul Crossley, pianist
Christoph von Dohnanyi, conductor
Detlev Glanert, composer
Sally Groves, publisher
Sir Peter Jonas, opera administrator
Oliver Knussen, composer and conductor


The Music

Music extracts were drawn from
[all works by Hans Werner Henze]

Double Concerto for oboe & harp, 1 st movement.
H & U Holliger, Collegium Musicum Zurich, Paul Sacher
DG 449 8642 Tr 3

CD Symphony 6
LSO / Composer
DG 4498622 CD 1 of set Tr 11

CD Five Neapolitan Songs no 1, opening
Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau
DG 449 869 Tr 1

CD Elegy for Young Lovers - Quintet
Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau etc.
DG 449 874 Tr 8

CD Raft of the Medusa, fugal chorus
cond by The Composer
DG 449 8712 Tr 15

CD Violin Concerto no 1 / iii, from solo entry
Dabringhaus & Grimm MDG 601 1242

CD Essay on Pigs
Roy Hart, London Sinfonietta, Composer
DG 449 869 Tr 15

CD El Cimarron excerpt
William Pearson, Leo Brouwer, Stomu Yamashta
DG 449 8722 Tr 13

Tape: We Come to the River, excerpt
Royal Opera production
BBC broadcast not commercially available

CD The Bassarids: (Excerpt)
Kostas Paskalis (Pentheus)
Vienna State Opera Chorus, VPO
Christoph von Dohnanyi (cond.)
Orfeo C 605 032 1 CD 2 Tr 4

CD Tristan
Homero Francesch, The Composer
DG 449 8662 CD 2 of set Tr 4

CD Symphony 9
Berlin Radio Choir and SO
cond. Ingo Metzmacher
EMI CDC5 56513-2

CD Moralitäten
DG 449 8702 Tr 13

CD Barcarola
CBSO, Simon Rattle
EMI 7 547622 Tr 1

Songs from the Arabian; No. 1: Selím und der Wind
Ian Bostridge (tenor) Julius Drake (piano)
EMI 5 57112 2 Tr 1

Songs from the Arabian; No. 6: Das Paradies
Ian Bostridge (tenor) Julius Drake (piano)
EMI 5 57112 2 Tr 6

CD - Musen Siziliens, extract
DG 449 870

Symphony no 7 - movement ii - scherzo
CBSO, Simon Rattle
EMI 7547622 Tr 5

Requiem: Agnus Dei
Ensemble Modern
Sony SK 58972 Tr 6

Double Concerto for oboe and harp, 4 th movement. - end
H & U Holliger, Collegium Musicum Zurich, Paul Sacher
DG 449 8642 Tr 6


Books

Hans Werner Henze: Bohemian Fifths, An Autobiography. Translated by Stewart Spencer. London , Faber & Faber, 1998.

Hans Werner Henze: Music and Politics: Collected Writings 1953-81 . London : Faber & Faber, 1982.

Guy Rickards: Hindemith, Hartmann & Henze. London : Phaidon Books, 1995


DVD

Hans Werner Henze: Memoirs of an Outsider. with contributions from Oliver Knussen, Sir Simon Rattle and others. Producer Dennis Marks. Director Barrie Gavin. Arthaus Musik 100360

L'Upupa und der Triumph der Sohnesliebe. Film of the world première performances at the Salzburg Festival of Henze's 2003 opera. EuroArts 2053929


Discography

Websites

Schott
[in German; comprehensive, with biography, worklists, pictures]

Chester Novello

A search via Google will bring up many further links

Section_1_Birthdays

Henze at 80

Section_1_Birthdays




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