Saturday, 27 October 2012

Hans Werner Henze has died

Hans Werner Henze (1926-2012). Henze's death has just been announced by his publishers, Schott. Ironically, his Moralitäten is being performed tonight in Basel. No details yet, but Henze has been unwell for many years. Despite his suffering, Henze continued to write. If anything some of his later work is even more uncompromising. Henze would not "go gently into that good night". He believed in principles, even if they might not fit in with what others might expect. His music defies categories. It fits no easy pigeonholes. Henze was contradiction, personified.

Read the obit on Schott's website here.  (photo: Peter Andersen). One of the best pieces on Henze in the British media is here (Ivan Hewett). There is a lot on my site here on Henze.  Especially read  what I've written about Phaedra, which is much misunderstood by listeners expecting easy focus feelgood. Henze confronted death during its genesis and came up with a powerful statement on love and life. I attended the Berlin premiere but over the years,  I've grown to appreciate its profound depth even more.  The score is available bei Schott.  It's ironic that Henze should die just as we enter Benjamin Britten's centenary, for Henze was a Britten devotee, though never a part of Britten's inner circle. Henze's Phaedra and Britten's Phaedra are worth considering together, though they could never be performed together. Read what I've written on the subject HERE 

Also  read my piece on Henze's Six Songs from the Arabian, based on Ian Bostridge's searing performance at the Wigmore Hall this year (more mature and more intense than the recording). This is another seminally important work which anyone interested in Henze needs to know.

Also on this site, Henze's Voices , Der junge Lord,  and Elogium musicum, one of his last works.
Listening recommendations ? Obviously in the circumstances, the Requiem (superlative recording conducted by Ingo Metzmacher). But anyone who loves Henze would have many other favourites.  Later I'll listen to The Raft of the Medusa which started my Henze thing when i was a kid. Or the Ninth Symphony, or L'upupa.  I might however go into the garden because it's the first sunny day in weeks, and remember Henze in the Italian sunshine. But for starters, Henze's very early Whispers from heavenly death. 

1 comment:

Minimme said...

Very interesting posts - I hope we get to hear "Elogium" on CD soon!