Hans Werner Henze: 1926 – 2012

It is with great sadness that we record of the death of Hans Werner Henze on Saturday 27 October at the age of 86.

Born on 1 July 1926 in Guterslöh, Germany, Henze was one of the most influential composers of the post-1945 era, composing over 20 operas, 10 symphonies and in excess of 12 ballets. He was also deeply committed to political art, which informed much of his work.

The RNCM’s links with Henze began in 1992 when a College orchestra performed at the Cantiere Internazionale D’Arte di Montepulciano, the festival he had created in 1976.  Since then, the RNCM has been resident orchestra on 12 other occasions, performing concerts, opera and ballet as well as chamber recitals.   

When Henze visited Montepulciano in 1996 he was so impressed by the RNCM students that he accepted the invitation of Professor Edward Gregson, former RNCM Principal, to direct a festival of his music in 1998, at the first of the College’s now regular composer festivals.

Clark Rundell, Head of Conducting, recalls: ‘It was quite some event, with a production of his opera Pollicino, a concert by the BBC Philharmonic, the New Ensemble performing his huge Requiem on Remembrance Day and a series of talks with the RNCM’s Professor Douglas Jarman. I shall never forget it.’

Clark added: ‘Pictures of Henze make him look rather severe, but he was the most giving, kind person one could imagine. His humanity was extraordinary, especially when talking about the militaristic references in the Requiem. His experiences as a pacifist in the German army of the Second World War informed so very much of his future passions and politics.’

Hans Werner Henze was buried on 5 November in Marino, near Rome, where he had made his home for the last 50 years.




1 November 2012