Karl Amadeus Hartmann

As a composer, Karl Amadeus Hartmann attempted a difficult synthesis of many different idioms, including musical expressionism and jazz stylization, into organic symphonic forms in the tradition of Bruckner and Mahler. His early works contain music that is both satirical and politically engaged. But he admired the polyphonic mastery of J.S. Bach, the profound expressive irony of Mahler, the neoclassicism of Igor Stravinsky and Paul Hindemith. He, also in the 1930s, developed close ties with Béla Bartók and Zoltán Kodály in Hungary, and this is reflected in his own music to some extent. In the 1940s, he began to take an interest in Schoenbergian twelve-tone technique; though he studied with Webern his own idiom was closer to Alban Berg. In the 1950s, Hartmann started to explore the metrical techniques pioneered by Boris Blacher and Elliott Carter. He especially makes use of the forms of three-partAdagio slow movements, Fugue, Variations and Toccata.

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. In 1945, he became a Dramaturg at the Bavarian State Opera 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, Luigi Nono, Luigi Dallapiccola, Carl Orff, Iannis Xenakis, Olivier Messiaen, Luciano Berio, Bernd Alois Zimmermann and many others.