Translated by Kenneth Chalmers
And Always for a BetterWorld –Approaches to Hans Werner Henze
153 And Always for a Better World – Approaches to Hans Werner Henze “For it is time to acknowledge the voice of humani- ty, the voice of a captured creature that is not quite capable of speaking its suffering, nor singing the measures of its heights and depths.” INGEBORG BACHMANN1 In his autobiography, Hans Werner Henze (1926-2012) gives a rather cursory account of his experiences with the Darmstadt avant-garde in the 1950s. In the early summer of 1955 he, together with Boulez and Maderna, was invited to give a course in composition at Darmstadt. He was not at all amused – as he wrote – that young composers who chose to “express themselves in a pre- Webern musical idiom” would not even be asked to attend.2 By then at the latest he was aware that he no longer belonged, if indeed he ever had, and he was happy to make the decision never to return to Darmstadt. Then, in October 1957, his Nachtstücke und Arien was given its first performance in Do- naueschingen, and he was taken aback to see after only the first few bars, Bou- lez, Nono and Stockhausen noisily leaving their seats and the hall.3 Even as a young man, Henze had the feeling that he “had no travelling companions”.4 He was aware that he had to pursue his artistic path alone, and felt that he knew precisely what his goal was. Henze could not and would not conform: his defining characteristics were self-reliance and independence, and every...
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