Born: June 21, 1909; Katowice, Poland
Died: October 9, 2007
Kurt Schwaen was born in 1909 in Katowice. His most influential teacher and mentor was Fritz Lubrich, who was a student of Max Reger. Under Lubrich, Schwaen studied piano, organ, and composition.
From 1929 to 1933, Schwaen studied musicology, art history, philosophy, and German at the universities in Breslau and Berlin, and continued to learn composition through his own studies. His teachers at the universities included Kurt Sachs andRead more Arnold Schering, but it was his meeting with Hans Eisler that was most influential upon his composition style.
Because he openly opposed the Nazi regime, he was sentenced in 1935 to three years of prison. After his release, Schwaen took a position as a pianist in a studio for expressive dance in Berlin and worked with highly regarded dance soloists including Oda Schottmüller and Mary Wigman.
Schwaen spent many of the years during World War II in the Penal Division 999. Afterwards he participated in the rebuilding of the public music schools, and was musical advisor to the German Volksbühne Theatre. Schwaen's encounter with Bertolt Brecht and Brecht's aesthetic ideas concerning the theatre was a seminal event in Schwaen's creative life. He worked with Brecht from 1953 to 1956.
He has been an active musician since 1953, and his compositional activities have been mostly directed to chamber music; in fact, even Schwaen's orchestral and operatic works have a chamber music flavor and ambience. Between 1973 and 1981 Schwaen directed the children's musical theatre in Leipzig.
Schwaen's output as composer spans seven and a half decades, and includes more than 600 works in most genres. He was named official member of the Association of Composers and Musicologists in 1961. In 1983 he was awarded an honorary doctorate from Leipzig University. Read less