Hans Winterberg: Orchestral works (Capriccio)

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Among thousands of composers who were banned and oppressed by the Nazis, the case of Hans Winterberg is seriously peculiar. A German-speaking Prague Jew, Winterberg fled after the war to Bavaria, where he received an icy welcome. He lived there in virtual oblivion until his death in 1991.


In 2002, his adopted son Christoph Winterberg sold his catalogue of works to the Sudeten German Music Institute under the condition that it should not see light before 2031. The composer’s grandson Peter Kreitmeir challenged this ruling in court and, with the help of Arnold Schoenberg’s grandson, obtained judgement that it could  be published and performed. Boosey & Hawkes took on the publication and Berlin’s radio orchestra last year gave this, the first public recording of his orchestral works.

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Was it worth the wait? In parts, yes. A first symphony dated 1936 sounds so close to Alban Berg it scarcely arouses curiosity. Competent, for sure, but not new.

The first of four piano concertos, written in 1948, has more novelty, although splashes of Bartok and Prokofiev are abundantly in evidence. The key revelation here is a 30-minute piece from 1966-67 titled Rhythmophonie, a work that blends pre-War Janacek naturalism with a post-Stravinskian emphasis on beat and propulsion. It’s a freshly imagined sound world, intriguing and attractive. If there is more of this inventive level in the Wittenberg locker, I really want to hear it.

This page is also available in / Cette page est également disponible en: Francais (French)


About Author

Norman Lebrecht is a prolific writer on music and cultural affairs. His blog, Slipped Disc, is one of the most popular sites for cultural news. He presents The Lebrecht Interview on BBC Radio 3 and is a contributor to several publications, including the Wall Street Journal and The Standpoint. Visit every Friday for his weekly CD review // Norman Lebrecht est un rédacteur prolifique couvrant les événements musicaux et Slipped Disc, est un des plus populaires sites de nouvelles culturelles. Il anime The Lebrecht Interview sur la BBC Radio 3 et collabore à plusieurs publications, dont The Wall Street Journal et The Standpoint. Vous pouvez lire ses critiques de disques chaque vendredi.

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  1. Pingback: Was this composer worth waiting for? – Slipped DiscSlipped Disc – iTube Movie

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