Hans Werner Henze (1926-2012), German Composer

Of the composers that Heinz Moehn worked with as an editor, he had an especially close relationship with Hans Werner Henze. Moehn is credited with creating piano reductions for eleven of Henze’s works (see the catalogue of Moehn’s editorial work for complete details) during his time at Schott. Eight of Henze’s letters to Moehn, sent between 1954 and 1959, are extant and they give a sense of how integral Moehn was to the realization of Henze’s artistic vision. On 8 July 1956, for instance, Henze wrote to Moehn to thank him for his work on the vocal score edition of his opera König Hirsch: “Today I received the full piano reduction of König Hirsch, and […] I cannot fail to tell you how first class and musically correct I find your work. God knows it is indeed seldom that such a beautiful reduction is still made today. […] My gratitude to you for this is sincere and full of joy. I shake your hand and give you my very best compliments and congratulations.” (“Heute habe ich dem gesamten klavierauszug des “könig hirsch” bekommen, und […] ich kann Ihnen nicht verhehlen, wie erstklassig und musikalisch richtig ich Ihre arbeit finde. Es ist wohl weiss gott selten, dans heute noch ein so schönen auszug gemacht wird. […] Meine dankbarkeit Ihnen gegenüber ist ehrlich und vollen freude. Ich drücke Ihnen die hand und sage Ihnen meine allerbesten komplimente und glückwünsche. [Lower case usage for nouns is original].)

A few years later, in 1959, when Moehn had shared with Henze his plans to leave Schott, Henze responded with alarm, stressing the important role that Moehn had played in his work. In a letter from 2 March 1959, Henze first expresses his dismay: “[…] for me the matter is particularly worrying: You have been familiar with my works for years, you know my writing, my technique like no one else - who then would be able to continue all this so easily? Believe me, I am extraordinarily uncomfortably touched by the matter. […] Dear Mr. Moehn, maybe there is a way that we can stay connected? Where are you going, now? What are your plans?” (“[…] fuer mich ist die Sache ganz besonders bedenklich: Seit Jahren sind Sie mit meinen Werken vertraut, kennen meine Schrift, meine Technik wie niemand anderer - wer soll dann das alles so einfach weiterfuehren koennen? Glauben Sie mir, ich bin ganz ausserordentlich unangenehm beruehrt von der Sache. [...] Lieber Herr Moehn, vielleicht gibt es doch eine Moeglichkeit, dass wir on verbindung bleiden? Wohin gehen Sie jetzt? Was sind Ihre Plaene?”) In this letter, Henze emphasizes the importance of a supportive and knowledgeable editor to a contemporary composer, especially when the composer has specific wishes about the visual presentation of the score or writes for instruments in an unconventional manner – issues that Henze had discussed with Moehn in previous letters.

On 13 April 1959, Henze again wrote to Moehn with his concerns: “I hope that the fate of my new works, including that of “Homburg” [sic; the opera Der Prinz von Homberg], will be less separate from your person than it seems at the moment. For many years we have been very closely connected through my music and you have done something invaluable for me. Something like this cannot end so easily.” (“Ich hoffe, dass das Schicksal meiner neuen Werke, auch das des „Homburg“ von Ihrer Person weniger getrennt sein wird als es im Augenblick scheint. Viele Jahre waren wir ueber meine Musik hin sehr eng verbunden, und Sie haben Unschaetzbares fuer mich getan. Dergleichen kann nicht so einfach enden.”) However, as Moehn was not credited on the Schott edition of Henze’s Der Prinz von Homberg and this is the last known letter from Henze to Moehn, it would seem as though their working partnership indeed ended with Moehn’s departure from Schott on 15 June 1959.

Recognised as one of the important composers of the twentieth century, Henze left a vast collection of compositions across genres, and is particularly known for his operas, dramatic works, ballets, and orchestral works. Although he had been conscripted into military service as a young man during the Second World War, Henze held strong anti-Nazi and anti-fascist views, and his political activism manifested at times in his music. In 1953, Henze moved to Italy to avoid the homophobic atmosphere that he had experienced in Germany. It was during his years in Italy that he worked and corresponded with Moehn.

Return to Moehn's Network


Alburger, Mark. “Hans Werner Henze.” 21st Century Music 19, no. 12 (2012): 1-4.

Clinch, Dermot. “Hans Werner Henze: Profile.” New Statesman 125, no. 4289 (1996): 39-40.

Downes, Stephen. “Hans Werner Henze as Post-Mahlerian: Anachronism, Freedom, and the Erotics of Intertextuality.” Twentieth-Century Music 2 (2004): 179-207.

Henderson, Robert. “Hans Werner Henze.” The Musical Times 117, no. 1601 (1976): 566-568.

Henze, Hans Werner. Hans Werner Henze to Heinz Moehn, 16 February 1954. Letter.

---. Hans Werner Henze to Heinz Moehn, 7 August 1954. Letter.

---. Hans Werner Henze to Heinz Moehn, 18 November 1954. Letter.

---. Hans Werner Henze to Heinz Moehn, 3 July 1955. Letter.

---. Hans Werner Henze to Heinz Moehn, 8 July 1956. Letter.

---. Hans Werner Henze to Heinz Moehn, 2 March 1959. Letter.

---. Hans Werner Henze to Heinz Moehn, 21 March 1959. Letter.

---. Hans Werner Henze to Heinz Moehn, 13 April 1959. Letter.

Kater, Michael H. Composers of the Nazi Era: Eight Portraits. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000.

Painter, Karen, and Maier, Charles S. “Henze, Treichel, and the Aesthetics of Antifascism.” Colloquia Germanica 38, no. 1 (2005): 23-33.

Palmer-Füchsel, Virginia. “Henze, Hans Werner.” In Oxford Music Online. Oxford University Press. Accessed June 19, 2019.

Schott. B. Schott’s Söhne, Mainz, 15 June 1959. Letter of reference in support of Heinz Moehn.