Hermann Heiss

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Hermann Heiss (born December 29, 1897 in Darmstadt ; † December 6, 1966 there ) was a German composer with a focus on twelve-tone music and electronic music . His pseudonym was "Georg Frauenfelder".


After returning from American captivity, where he was first confronted with jazz, in 1919 he studied composition with Bernhard Sekles and piano with Hans Renner in Frankfurt / Main from 1921 to 1924, and twelve-tone technique with Josef Matthias Hauer in Vienna the following year . The composition E-F sharp-D for piano , a decisive and fundamental work for hot , also falls during this period . Then (1926 and 1927) he studied with Hoehn in Frankfurt am Main. From 1928 to 1933 he was the main music teacher at the Hermann Lietz School in Spiekeroog . In 1932 he studied with Arnold Schönberg in Berlin. During the war years he worked as a theory teacher at the Army Music School in Frankfurt / Main, during which time he composed compositions for military orchestras (e.g. “Festive Concert”).

In 1939 he married the dancer Maria Muggenthaler, a student of Mary Wigman . This marriage had two sons: Johann Wendelin (1940) and Nikolaus Michael (1943).

In 1944, 90 percent of his works were destroyed in an Allied air raid on Darmstadt. From 1946 he was a lecturer at the Kranichsteiner Ferienkursen für Neue Musik in Darmstadt (teacher of composition and composition).

After receiving the Büchner Prize in 1948, he worked from 1953 as head of a master class for composition at the Municipal Academy for Music in Darmstadt; Lectures, courses and composition evenings on all West German broadcasters, universities and conservatories followed. The establishment of a studio for electronic composition in 1955 was followed by the development of the hot Vollmer tape recorder for more efficient processing of the tape.

In 1950 he wrote his book “The athematic sound movement” about the exhaustion of all sound possibilities.

In 1957 he was awarded the Goethe plaque by the State of Hesse , and in 1958 the Johann Heinrich Merck Honor . On May 21, 1960, the “world premiere” of an electronic music composed by Heiß took place in the Aschaffenburg City Theater , while the Viennese artist Markus Prachensky let 350 liters of red paint run down a nearly vertical, huge canvas for half an hour. The action met with a mixed response.

1964 came his “Missa - Electronic Mass for Alto, Tenor, gem. Choir u. electronic sounds ”in Klosterneuburg near Vienna for the world premiere; this was later performed in Milan and Söcking near Starnberg. Here the singers were presented with diagrams (pitch / duration on the time scale) rather than notes, which gave them greater freedom for intonation.


On the "peritonal" (all sounding possibilities comprehensive) theory of tone movement from elements of musical composition , 1949:

“Instrumental and vocal movements are clearly separated; After the epoch of the instrumental, dogmatic twelve-tone music, new aspects open up for a free way of composing, which finds its connection in audibility, in the possibility of a meaningful handling of the degrees of change and movement capacity of tone, tone (color), rhythm, timing, strength and height and its form derives from the movement, its origin is non-thematic, but can form a continuum for the outsourcing of topics. Moving on to electronic composition was inevitable. ” (Published in: Meyers Handbuch über die Musik , 4th edition 1971, p. 701)

Works (selection)

  • “Requiem” for soprano, alto, string quartet
  • Chamber and piano songs: u. a. based on texts by Gottfried Benn , Franz Kafka , Erich Kästner , Christian Morgenstern and based on his own texts
  • Piano works: Chaconne 1); Capricci ritmici 1); Modes I 1) and II; Sonatas and chimes for grand pianos with auxiliary instruments
  • Choral music: Angelus-Silesius cycle; “Eine kleine Weile”, 29 children's songs (approx. 1943, dedicated to his son Johann Wendelin) in a songbook, 9 of them sung by a children's choir and recorded on tape (1955, W. Müller, Heidelberg), transferred to CD in 2013 (by son Johann Wendelin)
  • Cantata ... and they spread unrest (Partisans of the Universe) 1951 in memory of Arnold Schönberg
  • Ballet music, etc. a. with Alice Kaluza , Tatjana Gsovsky and stage dance games, e.g. B. "The Manager"
  • Symphonies and orchestral music: “Sinfonia giocosa”; "Sinfonia atematica"; "Configurations I and II based on picture titles by Paul Klee ", concert for violin and string orchestra
  • Radio ballad: "The glorious omission of the Fliegerhauptmann K."; Radio play music : Musique concrète , electronic phonontages
  • Electronic music : "Electronic composition I 2), II, III. IV; Missa - Electronic Mass for Klosterneuburg “for alto, tenor, speaker, choir and electronic tape
  • Hessischer Rundfunk pause signal 1955 (used until 1988)
  • On record
  1. in the series “Deutsche Musik der Gegenwart”, published by VDMK with the support of Deutsche Grammophon Gesellschaft mbH, serial no. 2 666 538, plate 2, page 2: Capricci ritmici, Chaconne, Modi I with Else Stock (after marriage to Else Stock-Hug ) at the piano
  2. in the series "Contemporary Music in the Federal Republic of Germany", 3 / 1950–1960, published by the German Music Council on Emi Electrola, serial no. DMR 1007-9.


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