Peter Heilbut

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Peter Heilbut (born April 13, 1920 in Sonneberg ; † June 24, 2005 in Hamburg ) was a German music teacher , composer and pianist .


Peter's father Kurt Heilbut came from a Jewish family and was the editor of an SPD newspaper; the mother's name was Clara Heilbut geb. Gideon.

Peter Heilbut survived the Sachsenhausen concentration camp and studied music in Hamburg from 1945. In 1952, after successfully completing his degree, Heilbut was employed as a piano teacher at the State Youth Music School in Hamburg; He devoted himself to this task until his retirement in 1985. From 1975 to 1990 he also taught as a professor for music education at the University of Music in Hamburg.

As a pedagogue, Peter Heilbut published numerous works on piano pedagogy, several instrumental schools and numerous instructive collections of historical and contemporary compositions that had a lasting impact on music pedagogy in German-speaking countries after 1945. The focus of his compositional activity was also in the field of educational literature. Many of his publications have been included in the curricula of European music schools.

Peter Heilbut is considered to be the inventor of the so-called partner piano, which he developed in collaboration with the music teacher Kurt H. Schall and the piano company Schimmel (Braunschweig). The project was supported and funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research . This piano had 2 × 5 octaves . In the piano lessons the partner piano could replace two instruments (piano). Music schools could thus save space and money; it did not catch on in the market.

Peter Heilbut was a founding and honorary member of the European Piano Teachers Association (EPTA), Section Germany, as well as a member of the International Working Group for Music (IAM) and other international organizations.


  • 1998 - Medal for Science and Art of the City of Hamburg

Piano pedagogical works

  • Norwegian suite for piano. Heinrichshofen, Wilhelmshaven 1951
  • The song primer. Piano school for children. Hug, Zurich 1961.
  • Piano lessons with groups. Attempted methodical guidance. Heinrichshofen, Wilhelmshaven 1970.
  • Game for two. Piano school for group lessons. Heinrichshofen, Wilhelmshaven 1971 (new version 1996).
  • Easy play pieces. 28-part composer series with introductory texts. Hug, Zurich 1971–1997.
  • Improvising in piano lessons. Ways to Active Listening. Heinrichshofen, Wilhelmshaven 1976.
  • Having fun playing the piano. School for children from basic courses and early childhood courses. 141 learning steps with many songs and play pieces. Bärenreiter, Kassel 1977.
  • Composition book for young pianists , Heinrichshofen, Wilhelmshaven 1978.
  • You and me on two pianos. Heinrichshofen, Wilhelmshaven 1993.
  • Play piano. Early instrumental lessons. An educational manual for practice. Schott, Mainz 1993, ISBN 3-7957-0262-3 .
  • Just play it. Five mini-suites for piano. Bärenreiter, Kassel 2001.
  • Four small suites for piano four hands. Heinrichshofen, Wilhelmshaven 2005.


In the last years of his life, Peter Heilbut wrote a life report from 1933–45 . Excerpts from it were published in two texts:

  • Run into life. As a Sachsenhausen prisoner on the April / May 1945 death march (Hamburg 2005).
  • Milestones. Gestapo imprisonment in Dresden, Sachsenhausen concentration camp, death march (1943–1945). Metropol Verlag, Berlin 2012, ISBN 978-3-86331-057-8 .


  • Linde Großmann: Obituary for Peter Heilbut. EPTA documentation 2005/06, Düsseldorf 2007, pp. 7-11
  • Ulrike Wohlwender: Memory of Peter Heilbut (with CV and list of publications, prepared by Peter Heilbut himself). EPTA documentation 2005/06, Düsseldorf 2007, pp. 12–23
  • Ulrike Wohlwender, Birgit-Christine Göbel: Run into life. Peter Heilbut's (1920–2005) legacy of music education and contemporary history. In: Üben & Musieren 5/2007, Mainz, pp. 53–55
  • Heike Haarhof in the taz about Peter Heilbut: Part 1 and Part 2

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