Boris Blacher

Biography

Born: January 19, 1903; Niu-chang, China   Died: January 30, 1975; Berlin, Germany  
Boris Blacher was an important twentieth century cosmopolitan composer whose best works linger near the fringes of the standard repertory. The music from the first half of his career was tonal and largely approachable, though in the latter half he adopted serial techniques with less emphasis on atonality. He was quite versatile, composing operas, ballets, symphonies, various instrumental works and choral, chamber, film, and electronic music. Read more

Blacher was born in Niu-chang, China, to parents of German-Baltic descent. His father was a banker who was often transferred to different parts of China and even to Siberia. Blacher, an only child, began taking piano lessons when the family lived in Irkutsk, Siberia, and later (1917) worked as a stagehand for the opera company there. In 1922, he traveled to Berlin and studied mathematics and architecture, but by 1924 decided his musical inclinations must be followed. He enrolled at the Hochschule für Musik there and studied composition with Friedrich E. Koch. In 1925, he began work on his first large composition, the score for Bismarck, a silent film whose music he produced in collaboration with colleague Winfried Wolf. From 1927 to 1931 he took advanced musical studies at Berlin University, supporting himself as an arranger and copyist of commercial music. Meanwhile, he continued to compose, producing such works as his 1929 symphony (which score he later destroyed) and an opera for radio, Habemajaja (1929). In 1935, Blacher's orchestral work Capriccio drew sharp criticism at its public premiere from the Nazis owing to its "un-German" qualities. The following year, he managed to offend them again with another orchestral work, Concertante Musik, which was nevertheless recorded under a pseudonym by conductor Carl Schuricht. Blacher taught composition at the Dresden Conservatory from 1937 until 1939, when he was dismissed because his methods were at odds with Nazi policy. From 1943 until the end of the war, Blacher took refuge in the home of Gottfried von Einem in Ramsau, fearing Nazi reprisal over discovery his grandfather had Jewish ancestry. In 1945, he began teaching composition at the Berlin International Institute of Music. Blacher produced probably his most popular orchestral work in 1947, the Paganini Variations. He left his teaching post in 1948, but took another the following year as professor of composition at the Berlin Hochschule für Musik. It was around this time that he began to use modified serial techniques in his works; later, he also wrote electronic music. In 1953, he became director of the Hochschule and held the post until 1970. He also became a member of the music division of the West Berlin Academy of Arts in 1955. He became its director in 1961 and president in 1968, holding the title for three years until his retirement in 1971. Blacher and his wife Gerty (née Herzog) traveled widely in the decades after the war, including many times to the United States and England, where they acquired a house and spent considerable time in the latter years of Blacher's career. The composer received many commissions in the postwar years, including one from the BBC that accounted for his 1956 Orchester-Fantasie and another from the Cleveland Orchestra, for which he produced Music for Cleveland (1957). Blacher remained busy in his last years, producing several compositions in 1974, including the choral work Vokalisen. Read less
Browse 1-25 of 31 Available Recordings
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  • 1.
    Blacher: Music For Cleveland; Mozart: Piano Concerto No. 27; Brahms: Symphony No.2; Stravinsky: Fireworks
    Label: Guild   Catalog: 2404 Release Date: 06/10/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Boris Blacher,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Johannes Brahms,  Igor Stravinsky
    Performer:  Robert Casadesus
    Conductor:  George Szell
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  • 2.
    Blacher: 200, 000 Taler / Modl, Reich, Weiss, Haefliger, Hollreiser
    Label: Arthaus Musik   Catalog: 102185 Release Date: 03/25/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Boris Blacher
    Performer:  Cornelis Van Dijk,  Karl-Ernst Mercker,  Martha Mödl,  Ernst Krukowski  ... 
    Conductor:  Heinrich Hollreiser
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Deutsche Oper Orchestra
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  • 3.
    Blacher: Der Grossinquisitor / Nimsgern, Kegel, Dresden Philharmonic
    Label: Brilliant Classics   Catalog: 9437 Release Date: 06/25/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Boris Blacher
    Performer:  Siegmund Nimsgern
    Conductor:  Herbert Kegel
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Dresden Philharmonic Orchestra,  Leipzig Radio Chorus
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  • 4.
    100 Years Deutsche Oper Berlin - Centennial Edition
    Label: Arthaus Musik   Catalog: 107528 Release Date: 05/28/2013   Number of Discs: 5
    Composer:  Boris Blacher,  Carl Heinrich Graun,  Erich Wolfgang Korngold,  Aribert Reimann  ... 
    Performer:  Helmut Krebs,  Carol Malone,  Victor von Halem,  Gerti Zeumer  ... 
    Conductor:  Caspar Richter,  Hans Hilsdorf,  Heinrich Hollreiser,  Friedemann Layer  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Deutsche Oper Chorus,  Berlin Deutsche Oper Orchestra,  Berlin Opera Orchestra  ... 
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  • 5.
    The Art Of Sir Georg Solti
    Label: Imports   Catalog: 1037609 Release Date: 03/05/2013   Number of Discs: 25
    Composer:  Béla Bartók,  Zoltán Kodály,  Leó Weiner,  Ludwig van Beethoven  ... 
    Performer:  Alexandru Agache,  Tamás Daróczy,  Julia Varády,  Iris Vermillion  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir Georg Solti
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra,  Hungarian Radio/TV Chorus,  Budapest Festival Orchestra  ... 
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  • 6.
    Blacher: Preussisches Marchen / Otto, Sardi, Richter
    Label: Arthaus Musik   Catalog: 101658 Release Date: 01/29/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Boris Blacher
    Performer:  Barbara Scherler,  Manfred Röhrl,  Lisa Otto,  Ivan Sardi  ... 
    Conductor:  Caspar Richter
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Deutsche Oper Orchestra,  Berlin Deutsche Oper Chorus
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  • 7.
    Carl Schuricht Collection II - Historical Recordings 1951-1966
    Label: Hänssler Classic   Catalog: 93292 Release Date: 10/30/2012   Number of Discs: 10
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Franz Schubert,  Johannes Brahms,  Robert Schumann  ... 
    Conductor:  Carl Schuricht
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra
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  • 8.
    12 Cellisten Der Berliner Philharmoniker
    Label: Acanta/Pilz   Catalog: 233497 Release Date: 05/29/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  David Funck,  Julius Klengel,  Boris Blacher,  Jean Françaix
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Twelve Cellists of the Berlin Philharmonic
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  • 9.
    Danse Macabre: Dances At Dusk From Liszt To Stravinsky
    Label: Berlin Classics   Catalog: 300103 Release Date: 10/12/2010   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Modest Mussorgsky,  Felix Mendelssohn,  Gustav Mahler,  Camille Saint-Saëns  ... 
    Performer:  Süher Pekinel,  Güher Pekinel,  Nelson Freire,  Christian Funke  ... 
    Conductor:  Jörg-Peter Weigle,  Günther Herbig,  Herbert Kegel,  Heinz Rögner  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Dresden Philharmonic Orchestra,  Berlin Staatskapelle Orchestra,  Leipzig Radio Symphony Orchestra  ... 
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  • 10.
    Edition Wilhelm Furtwängler - The Complete RIAS Recordings
    Label: Audite   Catalog: 21403 Release Date: 06/09/2009   Number of Discs: 13
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Richard Wagner,  Richard Strauss,  Johannes Brahms  ... 
    Performer:  Gerhard Taschner,  Yehudi Menuhin
    Conductor:  Wilhelm Furtwängler
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
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  • 11.
    Sergiu Celibidache - Portrait
    Label: Orfeo D'or   Catalog: 725085 Release Date: 04/28/2009   Number of Discs: 5
    Composer:  Franz Schubert,  Maurice Ravel,  Boris Blacher,  Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky  ... 
    Conductor:  Sergiu Celibidache
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cologne West German Radio Symphony Orchestra
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  • 12.
    Stokowski Conducts Blacher, Prokofiev, Milhaud, Egk, Wagner, Mussorgsky, Tchaikovsky
    Label: Hänssler Classic   Catalog: 94204 Release Date: 03/10/2009   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Darius Milhaud,  Boris Blacher,  Sergei Prokofiev,  Werner Egk  ... 
    Conductor:  Leopold Stokowski
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra,  Baden-Baden Southwest German Radio Symphony Orchestra
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  • 13.
    Jüdische Chronik; Aus Jüdischer Volkspoesie
    Label: Berlin Classics   Catalog: 32802 Release Date: 07/08/2008   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Boris Blacher,  Rudolf Wagner-Régeny,  Karl Amadeus Hartmann,  Hans Werner Henze  ... 
    Performer:  Anna Barová,  Vladimir Bauer,  Ekkehard Schall,  Hilmar Thate  ... 
    Conductor:  Herbert Kegel,  Kurt Sanderling
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Leipzig Radio Chorus,  Leipzig Radio Orchestra,  Berlin Symphony Orchestra
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  • 14.
    Boris Blacher: Romeo & Juliet / Jeffrey Silberschlag, Et Al
    Label: Albany Records   Catalog: 1008 Release Date: 03/04/2008   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Boris Blacher
    Performer:  Michael Tolaydoi,  David Robinson,  N'Kenge Simpson-Hoffman,  Leneida Crawford  ... 
    Conductor:  Jeffrey Silberschlag
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Chesapeake Chamber Orchestra
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  • 15.
    Stemper: Toot Toot;  Castérède, Etc / David Gier, Et Al
    Label: Albany Records   Catalog: 894 Release Date: 01/02/2007   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  John Stevens,  Boris Blacher,  Jacques Castérède,  Frank Stemper  ... 
    Performer:  John Manning,  David Gier,  Jeffrey Agrell,  Shari Rhoads  ... 
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  • 16.
    Musik...sprache Der Welt - Selected Orchestral Recordings Ii
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 000507202 Release Date: 10/11/2005   Number of Discs: 10
    Composer:  Modest Mussorgsky,  Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov,  Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky,  Antonín Dvorák  ... 
    Performer:  Diana Eustrati,  Aurèle Nicolet
    Conductor:  Igor Markevitch,  Ferenc Fricsay,  Fritz Lehmann,  Otmar Suitner  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra,  Lamoureux Concerts Association Orchestra,  Berlin RIAS Symphony Orchestra  ... 
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  • 17.
    Musik...Sprache der Welt - Hartmann, Blacher, Fortner / Fricsay
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 4775487 Release Date: 07/12/2005   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Karl Amadeus Hartmann,  Wolfgang Fortner,  Boris Blacher
    Conductor:  Ferenc Fricsay
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin RIAS Symphony Orchestra
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  • 18.
    Boris Blacher
    Label: First Edition   Catalog: 40 Release Date: 05/17/2005   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Boris Blacher
    Conductor:  Robert Whitney,  Jorge Mester,  Lawrence Leighton Smith
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Louisville Orchestra
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  • 19.
    Musik in Deutschland 1950-2000 - Politische Oratorien
    Label: Rca   Catalog: 73572 Release Date: 04/18/2005   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Boris Blacher,  Rudolf Wagner-Régeny,  Karl Amadeus Hartmann,  Hans Werner Henze  ... 
    Performer:  Daniel Morgenroth,  Elisabeth Wilke,  Matthias Weichert,  Michael Walke  ... 
    Conductor:  Gary Bertini,  Herbert Kegel,  Ingo Metzmacher
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ernst Senff Chorus,  Berlin Deutsches Symphony Orchestra,  Leipzig Radio Chorus  ... 
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  • 20.
    Original Masters - Hans Rosbaud
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 000303102 Release Date: 09/14/2004   Number of Discs: 5
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Franz Joseph Haydn,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Sergei Rachmaninov  ... 
    Performer:  Wolfgang Schneiderhan,  Robert Casadesus
    Conductor:  Hans Rosbaud
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra,  Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra,  Southwest German Radio Symphony Orchestra
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  • 21.
    Blacher: Lieder / Doufexis, Lincoln, Blacher, Bauni
    Label: Orfeo   Catalog: 191031 Release Date: 08/23/2004   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Boris Blacher
    Performer:  Axel Bauni,  Stella Doufexis,  Yaron Windmuller,  Kolja Blacher  ... 
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  • 22.
    Songs My Father Taught Me / Catherine & Joseph Malfitano
    Label: Vai Audio   Catalog: 1202 Release Date: 12/18/2001   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Heitor Villa-Lobos,  Ralph Vaughan Williams,  Boris Blacher,  Alan Hovhaness  ... 
    Performer:  Joseph Malfitano,  Catherine Malfitano
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  • 23.
    Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau - Lieder / Reimann, Reutter
    Label: Emi Classics Special Import   Catalog: 67349 Release Date: 06/05/2001   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Peter Cornelius,  Gottfried von Einem,  Ernst Krenek,  Hans Erich Apostel  ... 
    Performer:  Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau,  Aribert Reimann,  Hermann Reutter
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  • 24.
    German Wind Band Classics - Hindemith, Hartmann, Et Al
    Label: Chandos   Catalog: 9805 Release Date: 04/25/2000   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Boris Blacher,  Arnold Schoenberg,  Karl Amadeus Hartmann,  Ernst Toch  ... 
    Performer:  Murray Greig
    Conductor:  Timothy Reynish,  Clark Rundell
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Northern College of Music Wind Orchestra
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  • 25.
    Blacher: Works For Orchestra / Ashkenazy, Deutsches So
    Label: Ondine   Catalog: 912 Release Date: 07/21/1998   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Boris Blacher
    Performer:  Dimitri Ashkenazy
    Conductor:  Vladimir Ashkenazy
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin
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