Paul Dessau

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Paul Dessau on his 80th birthday at the solidarity concert (1974)

Paul Dessau (born December 19, 1894 in Hamburg , † June 28, 1979 in Königs Wusterhausen near Berlin ) was a German composer and conductor .


Family background

Dessau was born into a family of musicians. His great-grandfather, Berend Moses Dessau (1791–1851), and his grandfather, Moses Berend Dessau (1821–1881), were well-known cantors of the German-Israelite community in Hamburg. His uncle Bernhard Dessau (1861-1923) worked as a violinist at the Royal Opera Unter den Linden Berlin and until 1918 as the royal concertmaster of the court orchestra and was also active as a composer. Paul Dessau's cousin Max Winterfeld became known as an operetta composer under the name of Jean Gilbert .

Dessau's parents were the cigar manufacturer Sally Dessau (1849–1923), who was passionate about singing lectures, and his wife Louise, née Burchard (1863–1942).

Dessau's birthplace in Hamburg at Hohler Weg 21 was destroyed in 1943, as was the entire residential area around Michaeliskirche . However, several houses, which the Dessau family, who often moved within Hamburg, later lived in, are still preserved today.

Musical education

Through his father, Dessau came into contact with the standard works of musical theater at an early age - according to his parents, he was already three years old when he sang the prologue from the opera Bajazzo . If it were up to the father, the son should also become a singer . A violin, however, which Dessau received as a six-year-old, steered the preliminary path towards a career as a violin soloist. As such, he made his debut in Altona at the age of eleven with works by Mozart , Svendsen and Wieniawski in front of a larger auditorium. Four years later he gave his first own concert. Even at this young age played Dessau all violin concertos by Mozart and brought a lost Haydn concert to premiere .

However, the promising solo career ended at the age of 16 when a weakness in the left hand was discovered. According to the violin teacher, runs of thirds would cause Dessau "insurmountable difficulties". It was at this age that he began to compose the first extant composition in Dessau: the opera Giuditta (1910–1912). The young Dessau's enthusiasm for music theater was already evident here.

The advice to give his musical talent a different direction led Dessau to Berlin . There he went through in 1909 at the Klindworth-Scharwenka Conservatory four years of training as a conductor with a major in violin at Florián Zajíc . In addition, he received piano lessons from Brahms student Eduard Behm , who brought him closer to playing the score .

First employment

At the age of 18, Dessau was hired as a répétiteur at the Hamburg City Theater for the 1912/1913 season , where he was not only allowed to rehearse the most important works of the time and study the work of the conductors Felix Weingartner and Arthur Nikisch . He met important personalities such as Giacomo Puccini and Enrico Caruso and took composition lessons for the first time from Max Julius Loewengard . His report on the rehearsals for the new production of Wagner's Walküre by Hans Loewenfeld testifies to Dessau's youthful ambition, commitment and self-confidence :

“I've sweated blood and water! Suddenly the rehearsal schedule read: Valkyrie 3rd act 1st scene, at the piano - Dessau. I saw that in the evening! I thought: for God's sake - home! [...] At home I sat the whole night and did the piano reduction [...] and got right up to Wotan's appearance [...] So I voted until 6 am, then went to rehearsal at 10 am and played. I played it brilliantly until Wotan's appearance […], got up and said: 'Up to this point, Mr. von Weingartner, I've been practicing - I can't go any further.' He sat down at the piano and continued playing. "

A job as second Kapellmeister at the Tivoli Theater in Bremen, mediated by his cousin Jean Gilbert , was unsatisfactory for Dessau and only of short duration.

War experience

After the outbreak of the First World War , Dessau was drafted into military service in autumn 1915. Half a year with the 84th Schleswig-Holstein Infantry Regiment in the trenches on the French front meant a profound turning point for people and artists in Dessau. He got to know the “reign of terror of unleashed militarism ”, developed an “inexhaustible loathing of everything that means 'drill'” and a decidedly anti-militarist attitude: “I quickly became aware of the madness of the war. The gentlemen superiors contributed to increasing my hatred of the Prussian cadaver obedience to the extreme. "

After his return to Germany due to injury, Dessau was assigned to a military band for the remainder of the war.

Years of apprenticeship in Hamburg, Cologne and Mainz

After the First World War, Dessau was once again committed to the Hamburger Kammerspiele as in-house composer and bandmaster in the 1918/1919 season by the artistic director Erich Ziegel . But already in the following season Dessau left Hamburg and switched to the Cologne Opera under Otto Klemperer as solo repetitor and Kapellmeister . A lifelong friendship grew out of the four-year collaboration with Klemperer. In 1923 Dessau became the first Kapellmeister in Mainz .

Kapellmeister in Berlin

In 1925 Dessau took over the position of first conductor at the Städtische Oper Berlin under Bruno Walter .

"I was very unpopular with Walter, because I never eulogized him - I came from Klemperer and wasn't used to that."

Dessau's growing dissatisfaction with the music theater business contrasted with his first successes as a composer: In 1925 he received the prestigious award from Musikverlag Schott for his Concertino for solo violin with flute, clarinet and horn (1924), about which Paul Hindemith said: “ Only write such second sentences ”. In 1927 the 1st Symphony, premiered in Prague by Wilhelm Steinberg, and the string trio followed.

Due to collegial differences, Dessau's employment at the opera ended in 1927, and he renounced music theater , as he wrote in his notes on sheet music . At any price, however, he wanted to promote and develop his compositional studies and work. He subsequently obtained the necessary funds through compositional work on several films.

Film music (1928–1933)

Dessau later classified his film music work as “a peculiar but important school”. From 1928 he worked as a violinist, conductor and composer at the Berlin premiere cinema " Alhambra ". He created illustrative accompanying and original original music and set silent short films to music , including Walt Disney's early work Alice in Cartoonland . At the same time he developed new types of cultural programs for the film theater . In this way, he won over important artists such as Paul Hindemith for the midnight concerts he initiated . When the silent film was replaced by the sound film , Dessau's commitment to the “Alhambra” cinema ended.

From the early 1930s, Dessau was one of the leading film composers involved in the musical creation of the first sound films:

  • He wrote extensive film scores , initially for so-called film operettas such as The Great Attraction with the tenor Richard Tauber , later for the monumental mountain and adventure films by Arnold Fanck Stürme über dem Mont Blanc (1930), The White Rush (1931) and SOS Eisberg ( 1933). In doing so, Dessau experimented, always trying to develop a new sound in his film scores, with the modular combination of various stylistic elements using the largest possible orchestral apparatus.
  • In 1929 Dessau performed its first experimental sound film music episode at the Baden-Baden Chamber Music Festival .

It was there that he first met Bertolt Brecht two years earlier - a contact that would have far-reaching consequences for the future.

Emigration to Paris

After the seizure of power of the Nazis in 1933 emigrated Dessau, who as a left-leaning political, progressive composer of Jewish descent triple prosecution would have been exposed, France . The immediate trigger was the denunciation of an orchestra musician during the sound recording of SOS Eisberg . Dessau, who lived with his family in a house in Herblay near Paris , continued to earn his living with film compositions. The exile made a decisive contribution to the politicization of Dessau and its music as well as to the development of its intellectual position - as a political artist, as a composer of an advanced musical language and as an advocate of a gestural music-making concept.

Dessau was increasingly concerned with its cultural origins and wrote numerous works with Hebrew texts and in the Jewish musical idiom, including the Hebrew-language oratorio Hagadah schel Pessach (1934–1936) based on a libretto by Max Brod based on the Haggadah . 60 years later, on September 4, 1994, the work was performed in Hamburg for the first time in Germany - after its premiere in Jerusalem in 1962 - but, as in Jerusalem, it was severely shortened. The first full performance took place in New York on April 21, 2011 . Dessau also created the music for the Helmar Lerski films Awodah (1935) and Adamah (1947).

Under the pseudonym “Peter Daniel” Dessau wrote political songs, cantatas and didactic pieces for the workers' singing movement, some of them based on texts by his wife Gudrun Kabisch (pseudonym: “Karl Ernst”). These included Die Thälmannkolonne and No pasaran , which the working-class singer Ernst Busch carried to the International Brigades in Spain . Not only was Busch a temporary guest at the Dessaus, the composer also made numerous contacts with other exiles and supporters of the communist movement.

Through his acquaintance with René Leibowitz , with whom he had a mutual teaching relationship and a close friendship, and Erich Itor Kahn , Dessau came into contact with the twelve-tone technique in 1936 , which had a lasting influence on his compositional thinking (later intensified by the personal encounter with Arnold Schönberg ). Dodecaphony first found its way into Dessau's work in the piano piece of the same name, inspired by Picasso's monumental painting Guernica .

In 1938 Dessau wrote a play music for the first version of Brecht's Fear and Misery of the Third Reich , which was premiered under the direction of Slatan Dudow under the title 99% - a German Army Show.

Emigration to the USA

Affidavit for Paul Dessau, 1939

After the outbreak of the Second World War , Dessau emigrated to the USA in the fall of 1939 , where he arrived in New York , terminally ill . But he could be saved, possibly due to the unconventional therapy methods of the doctor Dr. Max Gerson .

Initially, Dessau earned a meager income with temporary work at a publishing house, such as copying notes and texts from other colleagues, and as a music teacher in a children's home and a music school. He carried out composition commissions and performed sporadically with his own songs.

“He lived in a tiny basement room where the water ran down the walls so that his only valuable asset, a piano, was soon unusable. In order to live he worked on a chicken farm (in New Brunswick ), which was far away, so that he had to be on the suburban train at four in the morning. This life got him mad. He needed all his strength to make a living. Artistic work was out of the question. "

Despite the adverse living conditions, Dessau finished the cantata Les Voix after Paul Verlaine , which had already begun in Paris and was premiered on May 21, 1941 at the music festival of the International Society for New Music (IGNM).

First work with Brecht

In 1942, during the preparations, there was an event to meet Bertolt Brecht again . On the occasion of a Brecht evening, St. Johanna of the slaughterhouses was on the program. Since the singer was absent at short notice, Dessau spontaneously sang the ballad he had composed of the black straw hats . Both artists hit it off immediately and a fruitful collaboration began, which would last until Brecht's death in 1956.

Encouraged by his poet friend, Dessau moved with his daughter Eva to Los Angeles in 1943 , where he initially lived in the house of a friend, the actor and film director Andrew Marton . Here in Hollywood , in the immediate vicinity of many other prominent refugees, above all Bertolt Brecht, Arnold Schönberg , Hanns Eisler , Charles Laughton and his old friend Otto Klemperer , a new chapter in Dessau's work and his political position began.

The first project of the collaboration with Brecht was the anti-war oratorio Deutsches Miserere based on Brecht's war primer , whose epigrams Dessau set to music and prescribed the projection of the documentary press photos. Dessau about the German Miserere : "It couldn't be played in America because it concerns us, our development, our misery and our progress, our history."

During this time, the music for Mother Courage and Her Children (later fundamentally revised) and the unfinished opera Die Reisen des Glücksgotts were created .

The last important result of the collaboration with Brecht in the USA was the performance of The Good Man of Sezuan with Dessau's incidental music.

A communist since 1936, Dessau joined the Communist Party in the USA .

Adopted home GDR

In 1948 Dessau returned to Germany and settled in East Berlin . He made a conscious decision in favor of the Soviet Occupation Zone ( SBZ ), the later GDR , in the hope of helping to build a socialist, democratic Germany. He felt artistically, politically and morally committed to this idea until his death, even if he came into conflict with the state's cultural and political authorities from the start.

On January 11, 1949, Mother Courage and her children premiered Dessau's revised music in the Deutsches Theater . In the following years he and Brecht wrote several stage works for the newly founded Berliner Ensemble : The exception and the rule , Mr. Puntila and his servant Matti , How the German Michel is helped , The Hofmeister , and the assembly song for the FDJ .

Between 1949 and 1951 Dessau worked on the setting of the libretto for Brecht's radio play Das Verhör des Lukullus . After a test performance on March 17, 1951 in Berlin under Hermann Scherchen , the music was attacked as "foreign and formalistic" and advanced (with the participation of the GDR state leadership) to the trigger and focus of the first major art-political debate (so-called "formalism debate") and the Discussion about socialist realism in the art of the GDR. After intensive discussions with Brecht, changing some scenes, especially the ending, as well as changing the title to The Condemnation of Lukullus , the opera was first performed publicly in Berlin on October 12, 1951, after which it was not played in the GDR until 1957.

For the III. World Youth Festival in the summer of 1951, Brecht and Dessau wrote the cantata Herrnburger Report , dedicated to the FDJ , one of numerous works with which Dessau took a direct stance on political events, including the funeral march in 1953 for the people's policeman, Helmut Just, who was murdered by war instigators for a large wind orchestra and in 1963 the Requiem for Lumumba based on a text by Karl Mickel .

Dessau was very committed to building a lively cultural life in the GDR :

Paul Dessau School in Zeuthen

In terms of composition, Dessau strove to combine appellative, everyday music of socialist content with the achievements of contemporary material treatment and to politicize autonomous music within the music itself. In addition to songs and cantatas inspired by contemporary politics, Dessau wrote plays, symphonic and chamber music works as well as the four other operas Puntila (1956–1959), Lanzelot (1967–1969), Einstein (1969–1973) and Leonce and Lena (1976–1978) ). The operas were staged by his fourth wife, director Ruth Berghaus , at the German State Opera Berlin .

In 1961, the joint German-German composition Jüdische Chronik, with Boris Blacher , Karl Amadeus Hartmann , Hans Werner Henze and Rudolf Wagner-Régeny, based on a text by Jens Gerlach, was inspired by Dessau .

Through his use of the twelve-tone technique , his advocacy of Arnold Schönberg and his contacts to Witold Lutosławski , Alfred Schnittke , Boris Blacher , Hans Werner Henze and Luigi Nono , Dessau became on the one hand the bearer of hope for the young avant-garde in the GDR, on the other hand it was often heavily attacked by official bodies partially skipped due to non-performance, but publicly awarded numerous state awards.

The grave of Paul Dessau in the Dorotheenstädtischer Friedhof in Berlin

In spite of its idealistic solidarity and belief in the necessity of the socialist path, Dessau maintained a critical distance from its own state and the appropriation of its person as a figurehead. He also decreed in his will that his burial in the Dorotheenstädtischer Friedhof in Berlin should not take place as a state burial , but only with friends.



In 1924 Dessau married the actress Gudrun Kabisch (1900–1955); the marriage resulted in the children Eva (* 1926) and Peter (* 1929). The marriage ended in divorce in 1938. From 1948 to 1951 Dessau was married to the writer and colleague Brechts Elisabeth Hauptmann . In 1952 he entered into his third marriage with Antje Ruge .

In 1954 Dessau married the choreographer and director Ruth Berghaus . Their son Maxim Dessau (* 1954) studied at the University of Film and Television in Potsdam-Babelsberg and is a film director.

The American journalist Therese Peters (1913–1978) was also a daughter of Paul Dessau.


In French exile, Dessau published several works under the following pseudonyms:

  • Henry Herblay (various film scores)
  • Peter Daniel (songs for the workers singer movement)


Dessau received the following awards and prizes:


Dessau composed operas, scenic games, stage and ballet music, symphonies and other orchestral works, pieces for various solo instruments as well as vocal music. Since the 1920s he was interested in film music, a. a. he wrote compositions for early Walt Disney films , accompanying music for silent films and for early German talkies. While in exile in Paris he composed the oratorio Hagadah shel Pessach based on a libretto by Max Brod . In the 1950s, his work in collaboration with Bertolt Brecht concentrated on music theater, during which time he wrote his operas. He also wrote everyday music for GDR propaganda.

Stage works


All world premieres took place at the Berlin State Opera :

Stage / drama music

Performance of the singing piece "Rummelplatz" for the 90th birthday of Paul Dessau at the school named after him in Zeuthen (December 18, 1984)

On pieces by Bertolt Brecht :

Regarding arrangements by Brecht:

On pieces by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe :

On pieces by Peter Weiss :

On pieces by other authors:

Dance scenes

Funk and film

Radio plays

Film music

under the pseudonym Henry Herblay :

Vocal music

Choral works


  • Battle Song of the Black Straw Hats (1936)
  • The Thälmann column or Spain's sky (1936)
  • Song of a German Mother (1943)
  • The German Miserere (1943)
  • Horst Dussel Song (1943)
  • Lullaby for voice and guitar (1947)
  • Gravestone for Gorky (1947)
  • Aufbaulied der FDJ (1948)
  • Future Song (1949)
  • Five children's songs (1949; text: Bertolt Brecht )
  • Peace song for one voice with an accompanying voice (1951; text: Bertolt Brecht after Pablo Neruda )
  • The Augsburger Kreidekreis , a dramatic ballad for music (1952)
  • Jacob's sons move out to fetch food for children's choir, solos and instruments in the land of Egypt (1953)
  • The anachronistic train , ballad for voice, piano and percussion (1956)
  • Little song for voice and piano (1965)
  • Five songs for a voice (low) and guitar, based on words by Eva Strittmatter (1969)
  • History of the Pig in Love Malchus for voice solo (1973)
  • Spruch for voice and piano (1973)
  • Among the Supreme (1975)

Instrumental music

Orchestral works

  • 1st Symphony (1926, 1929 edited)
  • Trois mouvements symphoniques (1934; 1962 supplemented with Hommage á Bartók as 2nd symphony)
  • Music for 10 wind instruments, 2 piccolo flutes, accordion, 4 timpani and piano (1947; fragment - draft for the suite for 15 instruments based on the music for Mother Courage and her children )
  • 6 orchestrations of international work songs (around 1950)
  • Symphonic March for large orchestra (1952–1953; 1963 edited as a Socialist Festival Overture )
  • Funeral march for wind orchestra (1953)
  • Orchestra music 1955 (1955)
  • In memoriam Bertolt Brecht for large orchestra (1956–1957)
  • Funeral music for large wind orchestra (1960)
  • Bach Variations for large orchestra (1963)
  • Hommage á Verdi for large orchestra (1963; part of a joint project with Ján Cikker , Siegfried Matthus and Gerhard Wohlgemuth )
  • Divertimento for large orchestra (1964)
  • Symphonic Mozart adaptation based on the quintet KV 614 (1965)
  • Orchestral music No. 2 ("Sea of ​​Storms") (1967)
  • Sonata for piano and orchestra (1967; fragment)
  • Orchestral music No. 3 ("Lenin") with the final chorus Gravestone for Lenin (1969)
  • 3rd Symphony (1970; fragment)
  • Orchestral Music No. 4 (1972–1973)
  • Music for 15 string instruments (1978–1979)

Chamber music

  • Concertino for violin, flute, clarinet and horn (1924)
  • String Trio (1927)
  • Funny variations on a German folk song ("Hab mein 'Wagen vollladen") for clarinet, bassoon and harpsichord (1928, Rev. 1950)
  • Sonatina for viola and piano / harpsichord (1929)
  • Etude (burlesque) for violoncello and piano (1932)
  • Hebrew melody for violin and piano (1932)
  • 1st string quartet (1932)
  • Two small studies for violin and violoncello (1932)
  • Three Flute Pieces for Flute and Piano (1933)
  • 2 string trios (1934–1936), fragments
  • Suite for alto saxophone and piano (1935)
  • Jewish dance for violin and piano (1940)
  • Variations on a North American Folk Song for Clarinet and Piano (1940)
  • Nigun chassidi for violin and piano (1941, Rev. 1950)
  • Three violin pieces with piano (1941–1942)
  • 2 canons for flute, clarinet and bassoon (1942)
  • 2nd string quartet (1942–1943)
  • 3rd string quartet (1943–1946)
  • 4th string quartet ( 99 bars for barbara ; 1948)
  • 5 dance pieces for mandolin, guitar and accordion (1951)
  • 5th string quartet ( Quartettino ; 1955)
  • Quartet movement (1957)
  • Pastorale for flute, 3 triangles and small cymbals (1962)
  • Small piece for 2 violins (1965)
  • Small piece for flute and trombone / violoncello (1965)
  • Two studies for piano and bassoon (1965)
  • Quattrodramma for 4 cellos, 2 pianos and 2 percussionists (1965)
  • 6th string quartet ( 7 movements for string quartet ; 1971)
  • 3 pieces for 2 trumpets / clarinets and trombone / bassoon (1971)
  • Three Warbler Pieces for flute (1974)
  • Five [four] bagatelles for viola and piano (1975)
  • 7th string quartet (1975)
  • Tower Fanfare for 2 Trumpets and Trombone (1975)
  • Quintet for oboe, clarinet, bassoon, horn and piano (1978)

Music for keyboard instruments

  • Piano sonata (1914–1917, edited 1948)
  • Children's pieces for four hands (1927)
  • 12 studies (1932, 1933 processed as 9 studies )
  • 10 children's pieces (1934, 1948 and 1953 edited)
  • Twelve-tone attempts (1937)
  • Guernica (around 1938)
  • Little dance (around 1938)
  • 11 Jewish folk songs (1946)
  • WA Mozart : Cadenza to the Piano Concerto in C major KV 467 , 1st movement (1946)
  • Five little exercises (1948)
  • Piano piece about BACH (1948)
  • Sonatina (1955)
  • Four Little Pieces for Maxim (1955)
  • 3 Intermezzi (1955, 1956 No. 2 edited)
  • Little March for Hans Pischner for harpsichord (1964)
  • Paraphrase on "Mariana" by J. Gilbert for organ (1968)
  • For Helli , little piano piece (1971)
  • Fantasietta in C sharp (1971–1972)
  • Sonatina (1975, arranged for small orchestra and small orchestra with piano)
  • Fantasietta No. 2 (1976)
  • Fantasietta No. 3 (1976)

Discography (selection)

  • Die Graugans, Roswitha Trexler (soprano), Hansachim Schiller (piano), 1970, Five children's songs based on Brecht, Irmgard Arnold (soprano), Paul Dessau (bug piano), 1958, Four love songs, Jana Reh (soprano), Thomas Blumenthal (guitar) , 1999, Five Songs, Roswitha Trexler (soprano), Jutta Czapski (piano), 1996, RCA Red Seal / BMG Classics 2001.
  • The condemnation of Lukullus [complete recording], Renate Krahmer (soprano), Helmut Melchert (tenor), Peter Schreier (tenor), Boris Carmeli (bass), Rainer Lüdecke (bass), Alfred Wroblewski (bass), Rundfunk-Kinderchor Leipzig, Dietrich Knothe (lead), Rundfunkchor Leipzig , Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Leipzig , Herbert Kegel (lead), 1964, Berlin Classics 1993.
  • Einstein [complete recording], Jutta Vulpius (soprano), Annelies Burmeister (alto), Henno Garduhn tenor, Peter Schreier (tenor), Theo Adam (bass), Peter Olesch (bass), Reiner Süß (bass), Tristan Hafermalz (piano) , Klaus Kirbach (organ), Helmut Oertel (organ), choir of the German State Opera Berlin, Hagen Stoy (lead), Staatskapelle Berlin , Otmar Suitner (lead), 1976–1978, Berlin Classics 1996.
  • Lilo Herrmann, Mathilde Danegger (recitation), Berlin A-Cappella Choir, members of the Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin, Paul Dessau (conductor), 1957, five children's songs based on Brecht, Roswitha Trexler (soprano), Werner Pauli (guitar), 1973 , Berlin Classics 1995.
  • Hagadah shel Pessach, Gabriel Sadé (tenor), Bernd Weikl (baritone), Matthias Hölle (bass), Alfred Muff (bass), Berlin male choir "Carl Maria von Weber", North German Radio Choir, Hamburg Alsterspatzen , Philharmonic State Orchestra Hamburg , Gerd Albrecht (lead), 1994, Capriccio 2000.
  • House of Frankenstein, Moscow Symphony Orchestra, William Stromberg (cond.), 1994, Naxos 2007.
  • Piano works: piano sonata, Guernica, Fantasietta, pieces for piano No. 1–9, sonatina, Siegfried Stöckigt (piano), Dresden Philharmonic , Herbert Kegel (cond.), 1979, Berlin Classics 1996.
  • Leonce and Lena [complete recording], Brigitte Eisenfeld (soprano), Carola Nossek (soprano), Edda Schaller (mezzo-soprano), Eberhard Büchner (tenor), Henno Garduhn (tenor), Peter Menzel (tenor), Reiner Süß (bass), choir of the German State Opera Berlin, Christian Weber (lead), Staatskapelle Dresden , Otmar Suitner (lead), 1980, Berlin Classics 1993.
  • Orchestra works: In memoriam Bertolt Brecht, Bach Variations, Gewandhausorchester Leipzig , Paul Dessau (cond.), Orchestral music No. 2, Leipzig Radio Symphony Orchestra, Herbert Kegel (cond.), Orchestral music No. 4, Staatskapelle Berlin, Günther Herbig (cond .) .), 1960–1969, Berlin Classics 1994.
  • Orchestral Works II: Symphony No. 2, Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin , Rolf Kleinert (conductor), Symphonic Mozart Adaptations, Staatskapelle Berlin, Otmar Suitner (conductor), “Lenin” orchestral music No. 5, Walter Olbertz (piano), choir of the Deutsche Staatsoper Berlin, Christian Weber (cond.), children's choir of the Deutschlandsender, Manfred Roost (cond.), Staatskapelle Berlin, Paul Dessau (cond.), 1965–1971, Berlin Classics 1997.
  • Puntila [complete recording], Irmgard Arnold (soprano), Sylvia Pawlik (soprano), Erna Roscher (soprano), Hannerose Katterfeld (mezzo-soprano), Annelies Burmeister (alto), Erich Witte (tenor), Kurt Rehm (baritone), Reiner Süß ( Bass), Choir of the Berlin State Opera, Staatskapelle Berlin, Paul Dessau (lead), 1968, Berlin Classics 1994.


  • Fritz Hennenberg : Dessau - Brecht. Musical work . Henschel, Berlin 1963.
  • Fritz Hennenberg: Paul Dessau. A biography . VEB German publishing house for music, Leipzig 1965.
  • Fritz Hennenberg: Paul Dessau portrayed for you . VEB German publishing house for music, Leipzig 1974.
  • Paul Dessau: Notes on sheet music . Edited by Fritz Hennenberg. Reclam, Leipzig 1974.
  • Paul Dessau: From conversations . VEB German publishing house for music, Leipzig 1974.
  • Gerd Rienäcker : Paul Dessau . In: Dietrich Brennecke, Hannelore Gerlach, Mathias Hansen (eds.): Musicians in our time. Members of the music section of the GDR Academy of the Arts . Deutscher Verlag für Musik, Leipzig 1979, p. 83 ff.
  • Joachim Lucchesi (Ed.): The interrogation in the opera. The debate about the performance “The Interrogation of Lucullus” by Bertolt Brecht and Paul Dessau . BasisDruck, Berlin 1993.
  • Peter Petersen : Started in Paris, completed in New York, published in Berlin. Les Voix by Paul Dessau. In: Music in Exile. Consequences of Nazism for International Music Culture, Hg. H.-W. Heister / C. Maurer Zenck / P. Petersen. Fischer Taschenbuchverlag, Frankfurt a. M. 1993, pp. 438-459.
  • Hans-Michael Bock , Marie-Luise Bolte (Red.): Paul Dessau . FilmMaterialien 6, Hamburg, Berlin September 1994.
  • Daniela Reinhold (Ed.): Paul Dessau. 1894-1979. Documents on life and work . Henschel Verlag, Berlin 1995.
  • Klaus Angermann (Ed.): Paul Dessau - Marked by history. Symposium Paul Dessau Hamburg 1994. Wolke, Hofheim 1995.
  • Daniela Reinhold: Paul Dessau . In: Contemporary Composers (KDG). Edition Text & Criticism, Munich 1996, ISBN 978-3-86916-164-8 .
  • Daniela Reinhold: Paul Dessau. Let's Hope for the Best. Letters and notebooks from 1948 to 1978 . Archives on 20th Century Music. Vol. 5. Wolke, Hofheim 2000.
  • Christina Samtleben:  Dessau, Paul. In: Ludwig Finscher (Hrsg.): The music in past and present . Second edition, personal section, volume 5 (Covell - Dzurov). Bärenreiter / Metzler, Kassel et al. 2001, ISBN 3-7618-1115-2  ( online edition , subscription required for full access)
  • Dessau, Paul. In: Brockhaus-Riemann Musiklexikon. CD-Rom, Directmedia Publishing, Berlin 2004, ISBN 3-89853-438-3 , p. 2585 ff.
  • Nina Ermlich Lehmann u. a. Ed .: Focus on German Miserere by Paul Dessau and Bertolt Brecht. From Bockel, Hamburg 2005.
  • Peter Petersen : The way of the promise by Weill / Werfel / Reinhardt and Hagadah shel Passover from Dessau / Brod - a comparison. In: Music theater in exile during the Nazi era. von Bockel, Hamburg 2007, pp. 340-370.
  • Matthias Tischer: Composing for and against the state. Paul Dessau in the GDR . Böhlau, Cologne, Weimar, Vienna 2009, ISBN 978-3-412-20459-4 .
  • Torsten Musial, Bernd-Rainer BarthDessau, Paul . In: Who was who in the GDR? 5th edition. Volume 1. Ch. Links, Berlin 2010, ISBN 978-3-86153-561-4 .
  • Nina Noeske, Matthias Tischer (eds.): Ruth Berghaus and Paul Dessau. Composing - choreographing - staging . Böhlau, Cologne, Weimar, Vienna 2018, ISBN 978-3-412-50069-6 .

Web links

Commons : Paul Dessau  - Collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. See Paul Dessau: From Talks , p. 120
  2. ^ Paul Dessau: From Conversations , p. 121 f.
  3. ^ Fritz Hennenberg: Paul Dessau. A biography , p. 11
  4. ^ Paul Dessau: Notes on notes , p. 22
  5. ^ Paul Dessau: Notes on notes , p. 34
  6. ^ Paul Dessau: From Conversations , p. 126
  7. Quoted from Paul Dessau: From conversations , p. 57
  8. ^ Paul Dessau: From Conversations , p. 59
  9. Werner Mittenzwei: Das Leben des Bertolt Brecht , Aufbau-Verlag, Berlin 1986, 2nd volume, p. 78
  10. ^ Paul Dessau: From Conversations , p. 72
  11. Jan Knopf (Ed.): Brecht Handbook . JB Metzler, Stuttgart 2001, vol. 1, p. 416
  12. ^ Matthias Tischer: Composing for and against the state. Paul Dessau in the GDR. Böhlau, Cologne 2009, ISBN 978-3-412-20459-4 , p. 73
  13. A short treatise on the history of our school ... ( Memento from July 16, 2014 in the Internet Archive ) on: Music-focused comprehensive school “Paul Dessau”, accessed on July 15, 2014
  14. ^ Konrad Krause: Alma mater Lipsiensis. History of the University of Leipzig from 1409 to the present. Universitätsverlag, Leipzig 2003, ISBN 978-3-936522-65-5 , p. 471.
  15. Theater der Zeit 33 (1978), p. 65.