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Composer Hans Werner Henze passes away

Composer Hans Werner Henze passes away

THE celebrated German composer Hans Werner Henze has passed away. He was 86.

Mr. Henze was, at times, regarded as a musical outsider but his work was highly regarded by audiences and performers across the world.

His body of work included 10 symphonies as well as chamber music, concertos and oratorios. He was seen as being one of the most influential composers of the late 20th. century.

For a period from the late 1950s until the mid-1960s, he had collaborated with the Austrian poet Ingeborg Bachmann who wrote the libretti for several of his operas including The Prince of Homburg and The Bassarids.

The poets W. H. Auden and Chester Kallman also wrote the libretto for his opera Elegy for Young Lovers, which was staged by the English National Opera.

Mr. Henze held a life-long hatred of fascism born out of his experiences in Nazi Germany where he had been forced to join the Hitler Youth and then to fight in the army in 1944. He was taken as a prisoner of war by the Allies.

He was openly gay, and had moved to Italy to live with his companion Fausto Moroni in the mid-1960s. Mr. Moroni passed away suddenly in 2007.

Among his last work was the opera Phaedra which he completed after experiencing a near-death experience in 2005. He had taken ill while in London. At first he was unable to walk and then slipped into a coma-like state which lasted two months. Just as friends believed he was about to die, Mr. Henze regained consciousness and was soon composing again.

To listen to an excerpt from Hans Werner Henze’s Serenade for Cello Solo, click here.

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