Monday, 7 November 2016

A Warning against Fascism: Henze's 'In memoriam: The White Rose'

As the xenophobic fascism of Theresa May, Nigel Farage, and the Daily Mail, amongst others, cements its icy, murderous grip upon the United Kingdom, as the world looks on in terror at the prospect of the United States electing Donald Trump as President, here is a moving, seven-minute musical tribute to earlier victims of fascism. 'Lest we forget' is now monstrously insufficient, for we forget daily in the very act of intoning a trite phrase that now means less than nothing. Let us stop forgetting right now; more to the point, let us act decisively against this drift further and further into barbarism. Herewith, Hans Werner Henze’s written introduction to this fascinating, moving piece, and his own recording with the London Sinfonietta:

Winter 1964-65, while at work with the composition of The Bassarids, I wrote this work as a contribution to the Congress of the European Antifascist Resistance, held in Bologna in March 1965. I chose the occasion to remind audiences of one of the groups who attempted open resistance to the Nazi regime inside Germany. This movement was called 'The White Rose' and the same name appeared on the numerous antifascist leaflets composed by their founders, the students Hans and Sophie Scholl, Christoph Probst, Alexander Schmorell, Willy Graf, and the Munich University Professor, Kurt Huber. The movement began its activities in 1942 in Munich, but quickly spread to other important cities and gained a membership number of more than a hundred. A year later the founders were arrested, tried, condemned, executed. They defended themselves with great courage and died proudly for their ideas.

My work in their honour is a double fugue, and obviously inspired by and composed in the sense of Bach's Musical Offering structures.

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