Kurt Hessenberg (1908-1994)

Kurt Hessenberg in 1939

(b Frankfurt, Aug. 17, 1908; d Frankfurt, June 17, 1994). German composer. He studied in Leipzig (1927-31) with Günther Raphael (composition) and Robert Teichmüller (piano), and in 1933 he was appointed to teach at the Hoch Conservatory (later known as the ‘Musikhochschule’) in Frankfurt. He remained there throughout his career, and was made professor in 1953. All major genres have been represented in his oeuvre of 135 opus numbers consisting of 4 symphonies, numerous other orchestral and concerto works, an abundant variety of chamber music, a body of organ compositions, a wealth of choral and vocal works, and an opera. Possessing great facility in composition, Hessenberg evolved an effective idiom that draws from a rich musical heritage but is in no way confined by it. He combines a fluent contrapuntal skill (developed from his love of Baroque music) with a quite individual tonal harmonic style. His slow movements have a delicately woven poetry, together with – in his music for voices – a very smooth melodic line. Among the many awards made to him were the National Composition Prize (1940), the Robert Schumann Prize given by the city of Düsseldorf (1951), 2 Goethe Plaques, one given by the city of Frankfurt (1973) and the other by the government of Hesse (1979), and the Order of Merit first-class of the German Federal Republic (1989).

See also:
Wolfgang Mechsner’s biographical sketch of Hessenberg, with timeline and work listing, on Thiasos publisher’s web site (in German).