Hans Werner Henze (Dictionary of World Biography: Twentieth Century)
Article abstract: Henze is one of the most prolific European composers of the postwar era, with a catalog of published compositions numbering more than 150 works in almost every medium. His success as a modern operatic composer is unique.
The first of six children, Hans Werner Henze was born in the small Westphalien town of Gütersloh on July 1, 1926. His father Franz, a schoolteacher with strong Fascist views, found his eldest son’s artistic inclinations objectionable and discouraged him from serious musical study. Finally, in an attempt to prove to him the uselessness of a musical career, Franz allowed his son to leave the privileged Gymnasium and to become enrolled in a much less prestigious local trade school for instrumentalists. There Henze studied piano and percussion.
In 1944, the eighteen-year-old Henze was drafted into the Germany army. Although he was intended for service in an armored division in Poland, Henze was transferred to a unit charged with the production of Nazi propaganda films (an item that Henze omitted from his official 1980 autobiographical sketch). Captured by the advancing British in May, 1945, Henze was released in mid-July. Returning home, he found himself the head of his household, for his father had yet to be released by the Allies. To support his mother and five siblings, Henze first worked for the British occupation forces as a transport laborer. Within...
(The entire section is 2252 words.)
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