Drawing on his experiences in Nazi Germany, Henze became one of the most influential composers of the 20th century.


“If music were a part of man’s everyday life, as it should be, there would certainly be less aggression and much more equality and love on Earth; for music is a means of communication and understanding, a means of reconciliation.”

(Hans Werner Henze, 1 July 1926, Gütersloh, – 27 October 2012, Dresden)

Hans Werner Herze was born in Güetersloh, Germany, the eldest of six children. His love of music and poetry developed early on, even as the great works of his time were being proscribed under the Nazi regime. He was forcibly enrolled in the Hitler Youth at the age of 12. His father, a teacher by trade, was killed on the Eastern Front. In 1944, the teenage Henze was conscripted and, not long after, sent to a British prisoner-of-war camp.

It was only after the war that Henze first encountered the music of Berg, Bartók and Stravinsky and began to attend the Darmstadt summer school for new music. The radio version of his early opera  Ein Landarzt, based on Franz Kafka’s story of the same name, garnered...