Hugo Distler


Born: June 24, 1908; Nuremberg, Germany   Died: November 1, 1942; Berlin, Germany  
Persecuted because of his beliefs and his innovative music, Hugo Distler's life is a study in perseverance and faith. Born the illegitimate child of seamstress Helene Distler and a Stuttgart manufacturer, Distler was taken in by his grandparents after his mother married and left for America. Distler was allowed to study piano and music theory while attending the local Gymnasium, and in 1927, he entered the Leipzig Conservatory, where he studied Read more theory and piano. Later, at the Institute for Church Music, he studied organ with Günther Ramin, organist of the famous Thomaskirche. In 1931, he took the position of organist and cantor at Jakobkirche (Church of St. James) in Lübeck. This was the beginning of 11 years of inspired composition. He was married in Lübeck in 1933 and participated in the Lübeck Singing and Playing Circle. His collection of 52 two- and three-part choral pieces for each Sunday of the year, entitled Der Jahrkreis, Op. 5, was published in 1933. Distler demonstrates a refreshing originality in the settings of these traditional religious and folk tunes from the Reformation and the seventeenth century. In 1934, Distler premiered his unusual composition Totentanz (Dance of Death) for a cappella chorus and speakers, which was inspired by the Totentanz fresco at the St. Mary's Church. In 1935, he wrote his popular Die Weihnachtsgeschichte, Op. 10 (The Christmas Story), an inspired and tender piece for four-part a cappella chorus and four soloists. Its rich and complex modal harmonies evoke ancient, archaic images. There are seven variations on the traditional song Es ist ein Ros' entsprungen (A Rose Did Spring Up From a Tender Root) that separate sections of the work. The chorus aids the narration at several points, notably on the multiply repeated (for emphasis) line "Zu Bethlehem im jüdischen Lande" (To Bethlehem in the Jewish countries). Distler was sticking his neck out simply to remind his audience that Jesus was a Jew. Criticism from the Nazis was gradually mounting for Distler's exclusive composition of religious music and his membership in the Lutheran Confessional Church, which publicly opposed the state's anti-Christian and anti-Semitic policies and actions that were supported by the fanatical, so-called German Christians' Faith Movement. In 1937, Distler was appointed a lecturer at the Württemburg Musikhochschule in Stuttgart and became leader of the Esslinger Singakademie. Distler lived his most successful years at Vaihingen in Stuttgart between 1937 and 1940. His Mörike Chorliederbuch was premiered in Graz by the Stuttgart Hochschule Choir. In autumn 1940, Distler was hired as a professor at the Berliner Hochschule für Musik, and in 1942 he took over the direction of the Berlin state and church choirs. Meanwhile, his music had been declared "entartete Kunst" (degenerate art) by the Nazi state. On account of air raids, his family was evacuated to Ahlbeck on the Ostsee and he remained alone in Berlin. Because of physical and psychological exhaustion, Distler ended his life by inhaling gas. Today, Distler is recognized as the foremost representative of contemporary church music. Read less
Browse 1-25 of 57 Available Recordings
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  • 1.
    Label: Querstand   Catalog: 1312 Release Date: 04/08/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Hugo Distler,  Johannes Crüger,  Knut Nystedt,  Ola Gjeilo  ... 
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  • 2.
    Chormusik Zu Advent Und Weihnachten / Alber, Orpheus Vokalensemble
    Label: Carus   Catalog: 83385 Release Date: 11/19/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Felix Mendelssohn,  Heinrich Kaminski,  Hugo Distler,  Michael Praetorius  ... 
    Conductor:  Michael Alber
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  • 3.
    Distler: Die Weihnachtsgeschichte / Rotzsch, Thomanerhor Leipzig
    Label: Brilliant Classics   Catalog: 94695 Release Date: 11/19/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Hugo Distler
    Performer:  Regina Werner,  Volker Arndt,  Heidi Riess,  Hans-Joachim Rotzsch  ... 
    Conductor:  Hans-Joachim Rotzsch
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Leipzig St. Thomas Church Choir
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  • 4.
    Lebensgebete: Music And Devotion
    Label: Rondeau Productions   Catalog: 6079 Release Date: 11/19/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Gioachino Rossini,  Joseph Rheinberger,  Edvard Grieg,  Peter Cornelius  ... 
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  • 5.
    Weihnachten Durch Die Jahrhunderte Ii
    Label: Ars Musici   Catalog: 233746 Release Date: 10/29/2013   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Recorded Sound,  Anonymous,  Traditional,  Ludwig Senfl  ... 
    Performer:  Arndt Schmöle,  Michael Jackel,  Torsten Gödde,  Philipp Tarr  ... 
    Conductor:  Reinhard Kammler,  P. Johannes Berchmans Gos,  Raimund Hug,  Winfried Toll  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Fiori Musicali (Germany),  Ecco la musica,  Spirit of Gambo  ... 
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  • 6.
    Micromania: 85 Piano Miniatures
    Label: Tyx Art   Catalog: 12009 Release Date: 02/26/2013   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Carl Nielsen,  Franz Joseph Haydn,  Hugo Distler,  Jean Sibelius  ... 
    Performer:  Matthias Veit
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  • 7.
    Hugo Distler, 1908-1942
    Label: Rondeau Productions   Catalog: 6068 Release Date: 11/13/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Hugo Distler
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  • 8.
    Sing A New Song / Liimola, Kuopio Academic Chamber Choir
    Label: Alba   Catalog: 45 Release Date: 11/13/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Leevi Madetoja,  Hugo Distler,  Knut Nystedt,  Unto Mononen  ... 
    Conductor:  Heikki Liimola
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Kuopio Academic Chamber Choir
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  • 9.
    Label: Nosag Records   Catalog: 208 Release Date: 08/28/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Paul Hindemith,  Johann Nepomuk David,  Hugo Distler,  Hermann Schroeder
    Performer:  Marcus Toren
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  • 10.
    Eine Deutsche Messe / Ensemble Nobiles
    Label: Genuin Musikproduction   Catalog: 12242 Release Date: 06/26/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Franz Schubert,  Paul Heller,  Kurt Thomas,  Peter Cornelius  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ensemble Nobiles
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  • 11.
    Geistliche Musik Fur Ein Ganzes Jahr (Sacred Music For The Entire Year) / Kreile, Dresdner Kreuzchor
    Label: Berlin Classics   Catalog: 300332 Release Date: 06/12/2012   Number of Discs: 4
    Composer:  Heinrich Schütz,  Johann Caspar Horn,  Sethus Calvisius,  Samuel Seidel  ... 
    Performer:  Fritz Herrmann,  Georg Guldner,  Franz Lindner,  Felix Morgner  ... 
    Conductor:  Roderich Kreile
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cappella Sagittariana
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  • 12.
    Dass Du Ewig Denkst An Mich
    Label: Querstand   Catalog: 1133 Release Date: 03/13/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Matthias Drude,  Bernd Englbrecht,  Volker Wangenheim,  Stefan Vanselow  ... 
    Conductor:  Stefan Vanselow
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  • 13.
    Audio Physic: 25 Years, Vol. 1
    Label: Turtle Records   Catalog: 5536 Release Date: 02/21/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Franz Schubert,  Franz Joseph Haydn,  Pierre de La Rue,  Hugo Distler  ... 
    Performer:  Christoph [Tenor Vocal] Prégardien,  Michael Gees,  Freek Borstlap,  Anne Galowich  ... 
    Conductor:  Jos van Immerseel,  Jan W. de Vriend,  Sigiswald Kuijken,  Carlo Jans
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Combattimento Consort Amsterdam,  Anima Eterna Orchestra (Bruges),  Margiono Quintet  ... 
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  • 14.
    Hohepunkte Der Chormusik
    Label: Berlin Classics   Catalog: 300227 Release Date: 07/12/2011   Number of Discs: 10
    Composer:  Heinrich Isaac,  Pierre de La Rue,  Josquin Des Préz,  Antoine de Févin  ... 
    Performer:  Karl-Heinz Schmieder,  Werner Eberhardt,  Siegfried Hausmann,  Joachim Vogt  ... 
    Conductor:  Dietrich Knothe,  Hans Gruss,  Roderich Kreile,  Rudolf Mauersberger  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Schütz-Akademie,  Virtuosi Saxoniae,  Trompetensemble Ludwig Güttler  ... 
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  • 15.
    Kreuzchorverspern: Geistliche Musik Zu Passion Und Ostern
    Label: Berlin Classics   Catalog: 300198 Release Date: 03/08/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Anonymous,  Hugo Distler,  Felix Mendelssohn,  Orlando de Lassus  ... 
    Performer:  Christopher Renz,  Georg Guldner
    Conductor:  Roderich Kreile
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  • 16.
    Seid Nuchtern Und Wachet
    Label: Berlin Classics   Catalog: 300151 Release Date: 01/11/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Max Reger,  Sergei Rachmaninov,  Pablo Casals,  Rudolf Mauersberger  ... 
    Performer:  Tobias Berndt
    Conductor:  Herbert Kegel,  Andrey Boreyko
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  • 17.
    Label: Ars Produktion   Catalog: 380888 Release Date: 01/01/2010   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Ariel Ramirez,  Jürgen Essl,  Hugo Distler,  Johannes Crüger  ... 
    Performer:  Wolfgang Schildbach,  Uwe Ungerer,  Anika Sergel-Kohls,  Joe Krieg  ... 
    Conductor:  Nicol Matt
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  • 18.
    Faire Is The Heaven / Camerata Vocale Freiburg
    Label: Ars Musici   Catalog: 232347 Release Date: 09/29/2009   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johannes Eccard,  Felix Mendelssohn,  Francis Poulenc,  Charles Villiers Stanford  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Camerata Vocale Freiburg
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  • 19.
    Psalms, Hymns,  Spiritual Songs
    Label: Da Chiesa   Catalog: 5637564634 Release Date: 09/22/2009   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claudio Monteverdi,  Hugo Distler,  Eric Nelson,  F. Melius Christiansen  ... 
    Performer:  Kathleen Cleveland,  Lavert Woodard,  Bob Hoffman
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  • 20.
    Christus Natus Est
    Label: Kairos   Catalog: 5637353693 Release Date: 11/04/2008   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Guillaume Dufay,  Anonymous,  Traditional,  Josquin Des Préz  ... 
    Performer:  Carol Lundergan,  Scott Wesley Borden,  Michael Saunders,  Bryan Michels  ... 
    CD: $21.99
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  • 21.
    Advent - Reger, Brahms, Etc / Hempfling, Cologne Kantorei
    Label: Cavi Music   Catalog: 8553013 Release Date: 09/09/2008   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Traditional,  Public Domain,  Colin Mawby,  Anonymous  ... 
    Conductor:  Volker Hempfling
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cologne Kantorei
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  • 22.
    Distler: Concerto For Harpsichord, Etc / Dreyfus, Stephani, Wingen, Livland, Et Al
    Label: Musicaphon   Catalog: 56860 Release Date: 05/27/2008   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Hugo Distler
    Performer:  Huguette Dreyfus,  Katharina Wingern,  Stefan Livland
    Conductor:  Martin Stephani,  Stefan Malzew
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  German Bach Soloists,  New Brandenburg Philharmonic
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  • 23.
    Bach, Distler: Keyboard Concertos / Immerseel, Galowich
    Label: Turtle Records   Catalog: 24 Release Date: 03/18/2008   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Hugo Distler
    Performer:  Anne Galowich
    Conductor:  Jos van Immerseel
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Anima Eterna Orchestra
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  • 24.
    Musical Treasures For The Organ
    Label:   Catalog: 132 Release Date: 10/01/2007   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck,  Dietrich Buxtehude,  Hugo Distler,  Sergei Rachmaninov  ... 
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  • 25.
    Sacred Songs - Distler, Reger, Et Al / Kreile, Et Al
    Label: Berlin Classics   Catalog: 1799 Release Date: 07/17/2007   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Hugo Distler,  Max Reger,  Felix Mendelssohn,  Joseph Rheinberger  ... 
    Conductor:  Roderich Kreile
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Dresden Kreuz Choir
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