Hans Werner Henze
From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
Hans Werner Henze (1 July 1926 – 27 October 2012) was a German composer of prodigious output best known for "his consistent cultivation of music for the theatre throughout his life". His music is extremely varied in style, having been influenced by serialism, atonality, Stravinsky, Italian music, Arabic music and jazz, as well as traditional schools of German composition.
Henze was also known for his political convictions. He left Germany for Italy in 1953 because of a perceived intolerance towards his leftist politics and homosexuality. He lived more recently in the village of Marino in the central Italian region of Lazio, and in his final years still traveled extensively, in particular to Britain and Germany, as part of his work. An avowed Marxist and member of the Communist Party of Italy, Henze produced compositions honoring Ho Chi Minh and Che Guevara. The librettist of his requiem for Che Guevara, titled Das Floß der Medusa (The Raft of Medusa), was among several people arrested at the 1968 Hamburg premiere in the riot that followed the placing of a red flag on the stage. Henze spent a year teaching in Cuba, though he later became disillusioned with Castro.
Hans Werner Henze died in Dresden on 27 October 2012 at the age of 86.