Bohemian Fifths: An Autobiography

Bohemian Fifths: An Autobiography

by Hans Werner Henze
     
 

Hans Werner Henze is one of the world's leading composers. His autobiography is frank, impassioned, and alive with memorable images and characters and graphic accounts of the creative process and performances of his music.

Henze's unhappy childhood during the onset of Fascism found release in music, which, in spite of the disruption of the war, became the center

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Overview

Hans Werner Henze is one of the world's leading composers. His autobiography is frank, impassioned, and alive with memorable images and characters and graphic accounts of the creative process and performances of his music.

Henze's unhappy childhood during the onset of Fascism found release in music, which, in spite of the disruption of the war, became the center of his life. He studied composition but began to make a career as a ballet conductor, until his creativity found expression in music that, by the early 1950s, had begun to distance itself from the fashionable but dogmatic rules of serialism in favor of his own individualistic conception of beauty. In both the political and sexual spheres, Hans Werner Henze is an outsider whose utopian dreams of a humane communism have always had to contend with reality. In musical and cultural matters, however, he is one of the best-connected and most influential figures of the postwar era and his autobiography brims with personal stories and observations of such luminaries as Igor Stravinsky, W. H. Auden, Benjamin Britten, Ingeborg Bachmann, Luchino Visconti, and Hans Magnus Enzensberg. A true cosmopolitan, he is happiest living in Italy, where his innate lyricism has found a natural home.

"Bohemian fifths" are intervals that were played by Bohemian horn players, and which, according to Baroque and Classical rules, were proscribed. Henze's writing protests the lack of freedom that such a prohibition implies, both in music and in life.

Originally published in 1999.

The Princeton Legacy Library uses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Henze's passionate reminiscences offer facet after bright facet of the kaleidoscope of modern culture. . . . He is eclectic, iconoclastic, never a slave to musical fashion and anything but boring. . . . Henze's writing is masterly, drenched in the same canny sense of drama that has marked his music. . . It is rare--very rare--to find a great composer who can write beautifully about his own music. Hans Werner Henze is such a composer and his Bohemian Fifths is a sweeping, moving portrait of the man, his art and his time."--Octavio Roca, San Francisco Chronicle

"Rich, informative and engaging. . . . [Henze] is an excellent memoirist and his book is full of vivid sketches of places and people. . . . Mr. Henze makes a convincing case for himself as a bad boy, self-destructive in love, anticonventional in his creative beliefs and belonging at heart in that demimonde of what he elsewhere describes as the Sodom and Gomorrah of war-wrecked Berlin. But as a composer, in public, he puts on his three-piece suit."--Paul Griffiths, Critic's Notebook, The New York Times

"What is compelling about this autobiography is its kaleidoscopic range, which includes both people and places. Henze's . . . memoirs have a candid flavor that makes them enormously readable."--Opera News

"Composers who can write about their work are rare enough. Fewer still can write enthrallingly. Hans Werner Henze can do both."--Badische Zeitung

"A universal cultural history in miniature, dazzlingly told, ruthlessly candid about himself and his works, with a constant undertow of irony and entertainingly informative in its detailed observations."--Nürnberger Nachrichten

"The descriptions are inspired and filled with genius."--Südkurier

Paul Griffiths
"Few composers in any age have been able to live solely from writing music without also pursuing careers as teachers or performers, or having private means. The life of Hans Werner Henze, who has dedicated himself to composition for more than 50 years of vigorous industry, is all the more instructive, and in his rich, informative and engaging new autobiography, Bohemian Fifths (Princeton) he has much to say about his career and the music that has filled it." New York Times (January 6th, 1999)
Patrick J. Smith
What is compelling about this autobiography is its kaleidoscopic range, which includes both people and places...a reasonably accurate picture of musical life in Europe in the postwar period. The translation is expert, though Stewart Spencer's use of British slang may put off some readers.
Opera News Magazine

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780691006833
Publisher:
Princeton University Press
Publication date:
02/01/1999
Series:
Princeton Legacy Library Series
Pages:
520
Product dimensions:
6.38(w) x 9.47(h) x 1.78(d)

What People are saying about this

John Rockwell
Hans Werner Henze is one of the most important composers of the twentieth century, and these are his extensive, detailed memoirs. For that reason alone, they should be read. I found the book highly interesting and highly readable.
John Rockwell, Editor, Arts and Leisure, The New York Times
Hans Werner Henze is one of the most important composers of the twentieth century, and these are his extensive, detailed memoirs. For that reason alone, they should be read. I found the book highly interesting and highly readable.
Caryl Emerson, Princeton University
Henze is a significant figure in the music world whose career has spanned the major part of this century, and in locations that were crisis spots.... There are interesting passages here about his relationships with other artistic figures: W. H. Auden, Ingeborg Bachmann, and Luchino Visconti. He is quite candid and amusing about encounters with musicians such as Luigi Nono, Sergui Celibidache, and Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau. The descriptions he provides of some of his concerts ... will become part of theater lore.
Caryl Emerson
Henze is a significant figure in the music world whose career has spanned the major part of this century, and in locations that were crisis spots.... There are interesting passages here about his relationships with other artistic figures: W. H. Auden, Ingeborg Bachmann, and Luchino Visconti. He is quite candid and amusing about encounters with musicians such as Luigi Nono, Sergui Celibidache, and Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau. The descriptions he provides of some of his concerts ... will become part of theater lore.

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