Karl Amadeus Hartmann

The son of Friedrich Richard Hartmann, well known in Munich for his flower paintings, and the youngest of four brothers of whom the elder three also became painters, Hartmann was himself torn, early in his career, between music and the visual arts. He was much affected in his early political development by the events of the unsuccessful Workers Revolution in Bavaria that followed the collapse of the German monarchy at the end of World War I (see Bavarian Soviet Republic), and he remained an idealistic socialist all his life. He studied composition at the Munich Academy in the 1920s with Josef Haas, a pupil of Max Reger, and later he received enormous intellectual stimulus and encouragement from the conductor Hermann Scherchen, an ally of the Schoenberg school, with whom he had a nearly lifelong mentor-protege relationship. He voluntarily withdrew completely from musical life in Germany during the Nazi era, while remaining in Germany, and refused to allow his works to be played there. An early symphonic poem, Miserae (1933 -1934, first performed in Prague, 1935) was condemned by the Nazi regime; but his work continued to be performed, and his fame grew, abroad.During World War 2, though already an experienced composer, Hartmann submitted to a course of private tuition in Vienna by Schoenberg's pupil Anton Webern (with whom he often disagreed on a personal and political level). Although stylistically their music had little in common, he clearly felt that he needed, and benefitted from, Webern's acute perfectionism.After the fall of Hitler, Hartmann was one of the few prominent surviving anti-fascists in Bavaria whom the postwar Allied administration could appoint to a position of responsibility. He became a Dramaturg at the Bavarian State Theatre and there, as one of the few internationally-recognized figures who had survived untainted by any collaboration with the Nazi regime, he became a vital figure in the rebuilding of (West) German musical life. Perhaps his most notable achievement was the Musica Viva concert series which he founded and ran for the rest of his life in Munich. Beginning in November 1945, the concerts reintroduced the German public to 20th-century repertoire which had been banned since 1933 under National Socialist aesthetic policy. Hartmann also provided a platform for the music of the young composers who came to the fore in the late 1940s and early 1950s, helping to establish such figures as Hans Werner Henze, Nono, Luigi Dallapiccola, Orff, Xenakis, Messiaen, Berio, Bernd Alois Zimmermann and many others. Hartmann also involved sculptors and artists such as Cocteau, Le Corbusier, and Miro in exhibitions at Musica Viva. He continued to base his activities in Munich for the remainder of his life, and his administrative, duties came to absorb much of his time and energy. This reduced his opportunities for composition, and his last years were dogged by serious illness. In 1963 he died from inoperable cancer at the age of 58, leaving his last work - an extended symphonic Gesangsszene for voice and orchestra on words from Jean Giradoux's apocalyptic drama Sodom and Gomorrah - unfinished.

Year / Artwork Title Importance Medium
1928 Jazz-Toccata und Fuge 3.50 stars CD
Comments:
Tiny Wirtz - Piano
1932 Lied for Trumpet and Winds 4.0 stars CD
Sonate Comments:

Jouko Harjanne - Trumpet
Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra cond. Jukka-Pekka Saraste

1935 Simplicius Simplicissimus 4.50 stars DVD
KA Hartmann Comments:
It would be a good idea te watch this DVD with the picture turned of, or, for example, with a nice bowl of goldfish in front of the screen.
The direction of this opera doesn't do any justice to the beautiful music. I am aware that the opera's subject is not a pretty sunny one. But making it as dull as this is a missed oppertunity. Opera = Theatre is what I mean.

Simplicius Simplicissimus, Karl Amadeus Hartmann's only opera, is one of the neglected masterpieces of 20th-century music. Completed in 1935, it was not performed until after the second world war when Hartmann had ended his self-imposed withdrawal from German musical life in protest against the Third Reich. To those who knew about Hartmann's opera in the early 1930s, the significance of his choice of subject matter - Hans Grimmelshausen's 17th-century picaresque romance about a simpleton caught up in the devastation of the thirty years war - would have been impossible to mistake, while the likelihood of the work ever being staged in Nazi Germany was vanishingly small. Simplicius is an everyman figure who is surrounded by human monsters representing every kind of depravity in a militarised world; Hartmann's score, basically neoclassical but quoting extensively from Lutheran chorales just to underline the target of his satire, never flinches from the horror that regularly surrounds the central character.

Solists,

Staatsorchester and Staatsopernchor Stuttgart cond. Kwame Ryan

1939 Concerto Funebre for Violin Solo and String Orchestra 3.50 stars CD
Comments:
Thomas Zehetmaier - Violin
Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie cond. Heinz Holliger
1937-1948 Symphony No 1 4.00 stars 3 CD
Comments:
"Versuch eines Requim"

Bamberger Symphoniker cond. Ingo Metzmacher

1938-1948 Symphony No 4 4.00 stars LP
KA Hartmann Comments:
For String Orchestra

Bayerische Rundfunk Orchester cond. Rafael Kubelik

1938-1948 Symphony No 4 4.00 stars 3 CD
Comments:
For String Orchestra

Bamberger Symphoniker cond. Ingo Metzmacher

1948-1949 Symphony No 3 4.00 stars 3 CD
Comments:

Bamberger Symphoniker cond. Ingo Metzmacher

1946-1950 Symphony No 2 4.00 stars 3 CD
Comments:
Adagio fuer grosses Orchester

Arno Bornkamp - Bariton-Saxophon
Bamberger Symphoniker cond. Ingo Metzmacher

1951 Symphony No 5 4.00 stars 3 CD
Comments:

Sinfonia Concertante

Bamberger Symphoniker cond. Ingo Metzmacher

1951 Symphonie concertante (Symphony No 5) 4.00 stars CD
Comments:

Royal Northern College of Music Wind Orchestra
Murray Greig - Trumpet
cond. Clark Rundell

1953 Symphony No 6 4.00 stars 3 CD
Comments:

Bamberger Symphoniker cond. Ingo Metzmacher

1959 Symphony No 7 4.00 stars 3 CD
Comments:

Fuer grosses Orchester

Bamberger Symphoniker cond. Ingo Metzmacher

1960-1962 Symphony No 8 4.00 stars 3 CD
Comments:

Fuer grossen Orchester

Bamberger Symphoniker cond. Ingo Metzmacher

1960-1962 Symphony No 8 4.50 stars LP
KA Hartmann Comments:

Bayerische Rundfunk Orchester cond. Rafael Kubelik