Gerhard Wohlgemuth

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Gerhard Wohlgemuth (born March 16, 1920 in Frankfurt am Main ; † October 26, 2001 in Halle (Saale) ) was a German composer and lecturer .


Gerhard Wohlgemuth grew up in Bremen . Despite his musical inclinations, after graduating from high school in 1940, he first began studying medicine at the Ernst-Moritz-Arndt University of Greifswald , which he had to interrupt a year later when the Second World War broke out . In 1944, a tuberculosis disease meant that he could finish his military service and resume his medical studies at the Martin Luther University in Halle-Wittenberg .

When he received a prize for his Concertino for piano and orchestra in 1948, he broke off his studies. His musical training was partly self-taught, partly through private lessons (with Fritz Reuter and Bronislaw von Pozniak (1887-1953) ). This was followed by engagements at the state broadcaster Halle (until 1949), as a lecturer at the Mitteldeutscher Verlag in Halle (1949 to 1955) and finally as head editor at the Friedrich Hofmeister Musikverlag in Leipzig (1955/56). He then settled in Halle as a freelance composer, where he worked from 1956 to 1972 as a lecturer in music theory at the Musicological Institute of Halle University. At times he was also an advisory editor at VEB Edition Peters Leipzig. Wohlgemuth was a co-founder and, from 1952, a board member of the GDR Composers' Association . From 1969 to 1991 he was a member of the East Berlin Academy of the Arts . His most famous student was Thomas Müller .

He was awarded the City of Halle Art Prize (1955), the Handel Prize of the Halle District (1962), the GDR Art Prize (1964) for his violin concerto, the GDR Medal of Merit (1969), the Badge of Honor of the Association of Composers and musicologists of the GDR were awarded silver (1972) and the Patriotic Order of Merit (1980, 1985).

Audio language

Wohlgemuth's first compositions from the 1940s, from which the composer later largely distanced himself, recall Paul Hindemith in their playful, musical style and also refer to the German folk song. From 1950 Wohlgemuth endeavored to develop his own tonal language, which is particularly evident in his large instrumental works. Most of his works are based on a free tonality , are rhythmically concise and differentiated in the fast movements , cantable in the slow movements and often have a humorous, slightly grotesque tonal language. Wohlgemuth received special attention in the 1950s and 1960s, after which his productivity and creativity declined. His First String Quartet, composed in 1960, caused controversial discussions in the GDR, as he made use of dodecaphonic procedures in this work , which was sometimes seen as a violation of the prevailing aesthetic of socialist realism at the time . However, this work in no way signified a stylistic determination by Wohlgemuth; in numerous other (later) works twelve-tone technique does not play a role. According to his own aesthetic view, his music is to be understood as a synthesis of the (officially desired in the first years of the GDR) representation of optimism and progress as well as of conflicts, problems and tensions, the solution of which is to be represented in music.

Works (selection)

  • Orchestral works
    • Symphony No. 1 (1953)
    • Symphony No. 2 (1958, rev. 1962)
    • Symphony No. 3 (1983)
    • Sinfonia breve (1952)
    • Sinfonietta (1956)
    • Suite for orchestra in five movements (1953)
    • Handel metamorphoses. Variations on a Sarabande by Handel (1958)
    • Telemann Variations (1964)
    • "L'Allegria", Divertimento (1965)
    • Symphonic music (1970)
    • numerous film scores
  • Concerts
    • Concertino for piano and orchestra (1948)
    • Concerto piccolo for piano and small orchestra, EU music No. 2 (around 1985)
    • Divertimento for piano and orchestra, EU music No. 1 (around 1986/87)
    • Violin Concerto (1963)
    • Concertino for oboe and string orchestra (1957)
  • Stage works
    • "Till", opera in four pictures (1952)
    • "Provençal love song", ballet (1954)
  • Vocal music
    • "Years of Change", oratorio for speakers, solos, boys' choir and orchestra (1961)
    • "Comrades, victory has been won", cantata for solos, choir and orchestra (1971)
    • "Who is the poor who does not know how to dream", cantata for soli, choir and orchestra (1974)
    • Mass songs
    • Songs and choirs
    • "The night descends quietly" (Christmas carol)
  • Chamber music
    • Sextet for string instruments and piano (1955)
    • "Supremalitapega" for wind quintet (1992)
    • String Quartet No. 1 (1960)
    • String Quartet No. 2 "Dölauer Quartett" (1968)
    • String Quartet No. 3 (1976/77)
    • Violin Sonata (1955)
  • Piano music
    • Piano Sonata No. 2 in B flat major (1946)
    • 3 sonatinas (1944, 1945, 1949)
    • Inventions (1949)
    • other smaller pieces
    • Variations on a Theme by GF Handel for two pianos (1969)
  • Film music


  • Allihn, Ingeborg: Gerhard Wohlgemuth , in: Brennecke, Dietrich; Gerlach, Hannelore; Hansen, Matthias (ed.): Musicians of our time , Leipzig 1979, p. 208ff.
  • Wohlgemuth, Gerhard. In: Wilfried W. Bruchhäuser: Contemporary composers in the German Association of Composers. A manual. 4th edition, German Composers' Association, Berlin 1995, ISBN 3-55561-410-X , p. 1407.
  • Finscher, Ludwig : Music in the past and present , 2nd edition, Kassel, Stuttgart 1994–2007
  • Hollfelder, Peter: The Piano Music , Hamburg 1999
  • Laux, Karl (Hrsg.): The music life in the German Democratic Republic , Leipzig undated
  • Laux, Karl: Supplement to LP ETERNA 8 20 938 our new music 5: Gerhard Wohlgemuth: Concerto for violin and orchestra (1963), Gerhard Rosenfeld : Concerto for violin and orchestra (1963)
  • Christiane Niklew:  Wohlgemuth, Gerhard . In: Who was who in the GDR? 5th edition. Volume 2. Ch. Links, Berlin 2010, ISBN 978-3-86153-561-4 .

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