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Paul Dessau

Biography

Born: December 10, 1894; Hamburg, Germany   Died: June 27, 1979; Konigs Wusterhausen  
Paul Dessau was a composer whose varied musical style was as colorful and controversial as his personal and political life. His music divulged a post-Romantic character early on and often contained Jewish themes. Although he adopted the twelve-tone system in mid-career, he had to forego use of it in many compositions owing to his collaborations with Bertolt Brecht, who favored popular musical styles. Dessau was born into a Jewish family in Read more Hamburg. From early childhood, he divulged strong musical talent, taking violin lessons at age six. He traveled to Berlin and enrolled at the Klindworth-Scharwenka Conservatory in 1910, where he studied violin with Florian Zajic. While Dessau possessed talent on the instrument, Zajic saw limitations in his abilities and counseled him to abandon his studies in 1912. He concurred with the judgment and obtained a position as répétiteur at the Hamburg City Theater that same year. Here, he was able to observe some of the finest German conductors, including Felix Weingartner and Arthur Nikisch. Dessau hoped to develop a career as a conductor himself, but also aspired to be a composer. As early as 1910, he had begun an opera -- Giuditta, which he did not finish -- and soon embarked upon other works, like the vocal piece Inspiration (1912 - 1914) and his piano sonata (1914 - 1915). In 1914, he received his first important post, that of kapellmeister at Bremen's Tivoli Theater. After service in the German army during World War I, he briefly obtained a conducting post with the Hamburg Kammerspiele, where he also served as a composer. There followed a string of appointments in first-rate German opera houses -- Cologne (1919 - 1923), Mainz (1923 - 1924), and Berlin (1925 - 1926). Dessau married Gudrun Kabisch in 1924. He would have three more wives: Elisabeth Hauptmann in 1948, Antje Ruge in 1952, and Ruth Berghaus in 1954. While he remained active as a composer during the post-World War I era, it was not until his Berlin years that he experienced his first successes. His 1924 concertino for violin, flute, clarinet and horn (1924) was awarded a Schott prize in 1925, and his Symphony No. 1 (1926) was premiered in Prague. He began composing for film in 1928, the same year he became the Alhambra Cinema's music director. Because of increasing hostility toward Jews in Nazi Germany, he left Berlin for Paris in 1933, where he gradually grew sympathetic to left-wing politics. He moved to the United States, settling first in New York (1939), then in Hollywood (1943), where he composed film scores and shared the camaraderie of Arnold Schoenberg and Brecht. He collaborated with the latter many times over the coming years, including in songs, operas, and other vocal works. In 1946, Dessau joined the Communist Party in the United States. Two years later, he returned to Germany, to the Eastern (Communist) sector, where his twelve-tone compositions and even more mainstream works often placed him at odds with the Party arts censors. His opera Die Verurteilung des Lukullus (1949 - 1951; libretto by Brecht) drew sharp criticism from the Party. Still, Dessau was highly respected: in 1952, he was voted membership into the Academy of Arts in East Berlin, then was appointed its vice president in 1957, serving until 1962. From 1962 to 1975, he taught at a primary school in the Berlin suburb of Zeuthen, where he lived since 1954. He remained active in composition in his last years and never acquiesced to Party officials, who often condemned his works. Read less
Browse 1-25 of 27 Available Recordings
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  • 1.
    Paul Dessau Edition
    Label: Brilliant Classics   Catalog: 9440 Release Date: 01/28/2014   Number of Discs: 12
    Composer:  Paul Dessau,  Hanns Eisler
    Performer:  Walter Olbertz,  Siegfried Stöckigt,  Roswitha Trexler,  Siegfried Hermann  ... 
    Conductor:  Rolf Kleinert,  Otmar Suitner,  Paul Dessau,  Herbert Kegel  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra,  Berlin Staatskapelle Orchestra,  Chorus  ... 
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  • 2.
    Artefacts: Piano Music From The 50th
    Label: Md&g (Dabringhaus & Grimm)   Catalog: 6131821 Release Date: 12/03/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Christian Wolff,  Luigi Dallapiccola,  Chou Wen-Chung,  Josef Matthias Hauer  ... 
    Performer:  Steffen Schleiermacher
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  • 3.
    Musik in Deutschland 1950-2000 - Chorgesang mit Orchester 1970-1990
    Label: Rca   Catalog: 73568 Release Date: 04/20/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  György Ligeti,  Paul Dessau,  Rainer Kunad,  Klaus Huber  ... 
    Performer:  Heinz Reeh,  Anne Haenen,  Theophil Maier,  Paul Yoder  ... 
    Conductor:  Michael Gielen,  Christian Ehwald,  Christian Hauschild,  Matthias Bamert  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Schola Cantorum Stuttgart,  Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra,  Berlin Staatskapelle Orchestra  ... 
    ArkivCD $16.99
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  • 4.
    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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  • 5.
    Brecht Songs / Gisela May
    Label: Berlin Classics   Catalog: 300026 Release Date: 07/13/2010   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Hans-Dieter Hosalla,  Tilo Medek,  Peter Fischer,  Paul Dessau  ... 
    Performer:  Gisela May
    Conductor:  Heinz Rögner,  Herbert Kegel
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  • 6.
    Dessau: Symphony No 2, In Memoriam Bertold Brecht / Epple
    Label: Capriccio Records   Catalog: 5019 Release Date: 02/24/2009   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Paul Dessau
    Conductor:  Roger Epple
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin
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  • 7.
    Robyn Archer Sings Brecht
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 47576 Release Date: 02/18/2009   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Dominic Muldowney,  Paul Dessau,  Kurt Weill,  Hanns Eisler  ... 
    Performer:  Robyn Archer
    Conductor:  Dominic Muldowney
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Sinfonietta
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  • 8.
    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
    CD: $14.99
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  • 9.
    Sonja Kehler Singt Brecht, Eisler, Dessau
    Label: Berlin Classics   Catalog: 184242 Release Date: 07/08/2008   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Paul Dessau,  Hanns Eisler
    Performer:  Sonja Kehler
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  • 10.
    Label: Eda   Catalog: 22 Release Date: 04/08/2008   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Edmund von Borck,  Paul Dessau,  Bernhard Heiden,  Erwin Dressel  ... 
    Performer:  Tatjana Blome,  Frank Lunte
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  • 11.
    Eisler, Dessau: Brecht-Songs / Gisela May
    Label: Berlin Classics   Catalog: 1311 Release Date: 02/28/2006   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Hanns Eisler,  Paul Dessau
    Performer:  Gisela May
    CD: $17.99
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  • 12.
    Dessau, Brecht: Puntila / Paul Dessau
    Label: Berlin Classics   Catalog: 2184 Release Date: 10/01/2005   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Paul Dessau
    Performer:  Reiner Süss,  Erich Witte,  Annelies Burmeister,  Irmgard Arnold  ... 
    Conductor:  Paul Dessau
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin State Opera Chorus,  Berlin Staatskapelle Orchestra
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  • 13.
    Dessau-Brecht: Die Verurteilung des Lukullus / Kegel
    Label: Berlin Classics   Catalog: 1073 Release Date: 10/01/2005   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Paul Dessau
    Performer:  Helmut Melchert,  Annelies Burmeister,  Hans-Joachim Rotzsch,  Boris Carmeli  ... 
    Conductor:  Herbert Kegel
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Leipzig Radio Chorus,  Leipzig Radio Orchestra
    CD: $22.49
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  • 14.
    Dessau: Klavierwerke / Siegfried Stöckigt
    Label: Berlin Classics   Catalog: 9181 Release Date: 10/01/2005   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Paul Dessau
    Performer:  Siegfried Stöckigt
    Conductor:  Herbert Kegel
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Dresden Philharmonic Orchestra
    CD: $17.99
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  • 15.
    Dessau: Leonce und Lena / Otmar Suitner
    Label: Berlin Classics   Catalog: 1074 Release Date: 10/01/2005   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Paul Dessau
    Performer:  Carola Nossek,  Edda Schaller,  Brigitte Eisenfeld,  Henno Garduhn  ... 
    Conductor:  Otmar Suitner
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Staatskapelle Orchestra,  Berlin State Opera Chorus
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  • 16.
    Dessau: Orchestral Works / Dessau, Kegel, Herbig
    Label: Berlin Classics   Catalog: 2182 Release Date: 10/01/2005   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Paul Dessau
    Conductor:  Paul Dessau,  Herbert Kegel,  Günther Herbig
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra,  Leipzig Radio Symphony Orchestra,  Berlin Staatskapelle Orchestra
    CD: $17.99
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  • 17.
    Dessau: Songs / Pommer, Jung
    Label: Berlin Classics   Catalog: 9059 Release Date: 10/01/2005   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Paul Dessau
    Performer:  Sonja Kehler,  Annelies Burmeister,  Peter Schreier,  Walter Olbertz  ... 
    Conductor:  Helge Jung,  Max Pommer
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Leipzig Chamber Music Society,  Hanns Eisler New Music Group Leipzig
    CD: $17.99
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  • 18.
    Musik in der D.D.R. Vol II - Vocal Music
    Label: Berlin Classics   Catalog: 9070 Release Date: 10/01/2005   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Hanns Eisler,  Günter Kochan,  Siegfried Thiele,  Siegfried Matthus  ... 
    Performer:  Günther Leib,  Annelies Burmeister,  Rosemarie Lang,  Frank-Peter Späthe  ... 
    Conductor:  Günther Herbig,  Kurt Masur,  Paul Dessau,  Christoph-Albrech Kamptz  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Symphony Orchestra,  Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra,  Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $29.99
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  • 19.
    Musik in der D.D.R. Vol III - Chamber Music
    Label: Berlin Classics   Catalog: 9071 Release Date: 10/01/2005   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Georg Katzer,  Paul-Heinz Dittrich,  Johannes Wallman,  Ruth Zechlin  ... 
    Performer:  Dieter Rumstig,  Barbara Richter,  Sylvia Creutzburg,  Ruth Zechlin  ... 
    Conductor:  Max Pommer
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Chamber Orchestra,  Berlin State Opera String Quartet,  Berlin Winds Society  ... 
    CD: $29.99
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  • 20.
    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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  • 21.
    Theater Songs Of Brecht & Weill / Lenya, May
    Label: Video Artists International   Catalog: 4319 Release Date: 03/29/2005   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Kurt Weill,  Paul Dessau
    Performer:  Lotte Lenya,  Gisela May
    DVD: $33.99
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  • 22.
    Dessau: Einstein / Suitner, Adam, Buchner, Suss, Et Al
    Label: Opera D'oro   Catalog: 1371 Release Date: 09/16/2003   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Paul Dessau
    Performer:  Eberhard Büchner,  Reiner Süss,  Henno Garduhn,  Theo Adam
    Conductor:  Otmar Suitner
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Florence Maggio Musicale Orchestra
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  • 23.
    Dessau: Lieder / Sturludottir, Doufexis, Bauni, Henschel
    Label: Orfeo   Catalog: 435001 Release Date: 08/29/2000   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Paul Dessau
    Performer:  Axel Bauni,  Stella Doufexis,  Hanna Dora Sturludottir,  Dietrich Henschel
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  • 24.
    Heritage  Lotte Lenya Sings Weill - American Theater Songs
    Label: Sony Classical Masterworks   Catalog: 60647 Release Date: 06/29/1999   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Kurt Weill,  John Kander,  Hanns Eisler,  Paul Dessau
    Performer:  Lotte Lenya,  Jack Gilford
    Conductor:  Harold Hastings,  Maurice Levine
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Louis Armstrong All-Stars,  Orchestra,  Instrumental Ensemble  ... 
    CD: $8.99
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  • 25.
    Dessau: Orchestral Works Vol 2 - Symphony No 2, Etc
    Label: Berlin Classics   Catalog: 9182 Release Date: 05/20/1997   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Paul Dessau
    Performer:  Walter Olbertz
    Conductor:  Paul Dessau,  Otmar Suitner,  Rolf Kleinert
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Chorus,  Berlin Staatskapelle Orchestra,  Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra
    CD: $17.99
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