Hans Pfitzner


Born: May 5, 1869; Moscow, Russia   Died: May 22, 1949; Salzburg, Austria  
Hans Pfitzner was one of the composers who carried the German Romantic tradition well into the twentieth century. Unlike those of his contemporaries Mahler and Richard Strauss, his reputation never seemed to extend beyond the borders of his homeland. Yet there is much that is individualistic and much to admire from his body of work -- particularly in his best-known work, the opera Palestrina.

Born in Russia of German parents, Pfitzner
Read more moved with his family to Frankfurt when he was three. His musical talent manifested itself early on, and he received his first training from his parents. At 14 he entered the Hoch Conservatory, studying composition with Knorr and piano with Kwast. He then began his music career as a teacher, taking a position as a theater conductor in Mainz; the latter proved to be a strategic move, for although it was an unpaid position, it enabled him to have his first opera, Der arme Heinrich, performed. Paid positions now followed, culminating in a multi-position stay in Strasbourg; he became director of the conservatory there, as well as chief symphony and opera conductor. The security of a fixed income produced a creatively favorable environment; he composed prolifically in all forms, favoring opera.

The crown of Pfitzner's work is arguably his opera Palestrina (1915), based on the life of the Renaissance composer and quoting passages of that master's music. Pfitzner may have seen himself in the opera's protagonist, as a man who, sticking to his principles, upholds musical tradition against the depredations of power. (The opera treats the legendary effort on Palestrina's part to compose a work beautiful and spiritual enough to foretall the banning of polyphony under consideration by the architects of the Counter Reformation.) Also noteworthy is Pfitzner's cantata Von deutscher Seele (Of the German Soul) of 1920. Both works are in the highly chromatic, richly sonorous tradition of post-Romanticism, and could never be mistaken for mere throwbacks to the nineteenth century. That Pfitzner could work in a less imposing idiom can be gathered from such works as the concise, melodic Symphony in C (1940).

But much of the non-German world's reluctance to hear Pfitzner's music may have been been the result of his politics. Always an ardent German patriot, he became enmeshed with the rise of the Third Reich. Yet he counted among his Jewish friends and supporters Mahler, Bruno Walter, and Otto Klemperer, and he was an admirer of Mendelssohn. In any event, as Pfitzner became more disillusioned with Nazism, he expressed disapproval and was thus relieved of his life membership at the Munich Academy of Music in 1934. This and various family tragedies took a toll on the composer's sanity. The wartime destruction of his Munich home left Pfitzner an aging, half-insane street person, but after the war a pension and residence were procured for the composer. He died in Salzburg, officially denazified and with the ban on performances of his music lifted.

Although the Romantic revival of the 1960s did not do for Pfitzner what it did for many of his contemporaries, there is much of his output worth hearing. At his best, Pfitzner spoke with the eloquence and intensity of one who consciously lives during the close of a glorious era. Read less
Browse 1-25 of 89 Available Recordings
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  • 1.
    Schumann: Manfred - Delius: Sea Drift / Schuricht, Stuttgart Radio Symphony
    Label: Urania Records   Catalog: 345 Release Date: 01/05/2018   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Robert Schumann,  Robert Volkmann,  Richard Strauss,  Hans Pfitzner  ... 
    Conductor:  Carl Schuricht
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra,  Bavarian Radio Choir,  Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra
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  • 2.
    Love's Embrace / Banse
    Label: Br Klassik   Catalog: 900322 Release Date: 11/03/2017   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Joseph Marx,  Walter Braunfels,  Erich Wolfgang Korngold,  Hans Pfitzner
    Performer:  Juliane Banse
    Conductor:  Sebastian Weigle
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Munich Radio Orchestra
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  • 3.
    Von Muttern und Tochtern / Ingenfeld, Keller, Dasch
    Label: Dreyer Gaido   Catalog: 21103 Release Date: 08/18/2017   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Franz Joseph Haydn,  Robert Franz,  Johannes Brahms  ... 
    Performer:  Dorothe Ingenfeld,  Anita Keller,  Katrin Dasch
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  • 4.
    Lieder im Volkston / Baianu, Damerau, Muhlemann, Nazmi, Schwaiger
    Label: Oehms   Catalog: 1875 Release Date: 07/21/2017   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Max Reger,  Eugène d' Albert,  Reinhold Becker,  Wilhelm Berger  ... 
    Performer:  Wolfgang Schwaiger,  Tareq Nazmi,  Okka von der Damerau,  Adrian Baianu  ... 
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  • 5.
    Pfitzner: Die Rose von Liebesgarten / Beermann, Robert Schumann Philharmonic
    Label: Cpo   Catalog: 777500 Release Date: 06/23/2017   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Hans Pfitzner
    Performer:  Erin Caves,  Kouta Räsänen,  Astrid Weber,  Jana Büchner  ... 
    Conductor:  Frank Beermann
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Chemnitz Opera Chorus,  Chemnitz Opera Children's Choir,  Robert Schumann Philharmonic
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  • 6.
    Karl Bohm: The Early Years
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 561986 Release Date: 06/02/2017   Number of Discs: 19
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Johannes Brahms,  Franz Schubert  ... 
    Performer:  Jan Dahmen,  Max Zimolong,  Elisabeth Höngen,  Josef Herrmann  ... 
    Conductor:  Karl Böhm
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Staatskapelle Dresden,  Dresden State Opera Chorus,  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra  ... 
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  • 7.
    Inspiration: Violin Sonatas by Pfitzner and Busoni
    Label: Thorofon   Catalog: 2621 Release Date: 09/11/2015   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Hans Pfitzner,  Ferruccio Busoni
    Performer:  Lukas Maria Kuen,  Anna Sophie Dauenhauer
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  • 8.
    Pfitzner: Palestrina / Suitner, Deutsche Staatsoper
    Label: Brilliant Classics   Catalog: 95113 Release Date: 04/28/2015   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Hans Pfitzner
    Performer:  Dario Süss,  Brigitte Eisenfeld,  Peter Schreier,  Olaf Bär  ... 
    Conductor:  Otmar Suitner
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Staatskapelle Orchestra,  Berlin State Opera Chorus
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  • 9.
    Es Glanzen Die Sternlein Je Langer Je Mehr ...
    Label: Thorofon   Catalog: 2618 Release Date: 02/10/2015   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Peter Cornelius,  Hugo Wolf,  Edvard Grieg,  Erich Wolff  ... 
    Performer:  Hans-Martin Gräbner,  Peter P. Pachl,  Rebecca Broberg
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  • 10.
    Pfitzner: Palestrina / Kempe, Madeira, Lorenz, Soderstrom, Berry
    Label: Walhall   Catalog: 241 Release Date: 01/13/2015   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Hans Pfitzner
    Performer:  Elisabeth Söderström,  Max Lorenz,  Jean Madeira,  Walter Berry  ... 
    Conductor:  Rudolf Kempe
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
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  • 11.
    Hebbel Lieder
    Label: Gramola   Catalog: 98999 Release Date: 10/14/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Hans Pfitzner,  Walter Braunfels,  Othmar Schoeck,  Peter Cornelius  ... 
    Performer:  Ulf Bastlein,  Sascha El Mouissi
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  • 12.
    Wolf: Morike Lieder; Pfitzner: Eichen / Hermann Prey, Gerald Moore
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 002178502 Release Date: 10/14/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Hans Pfitzner,  Hugo Wolf,  Richard Strauss
    Performer:  Hermann Prey,  Gerald Moore
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  • 13.
    The Romantic Cello Concerto Vol 4 - Pfitzner / Gerhardt
    Label: Hyperion   Catalog: 67906 Release Date: 03/11/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Hans Pfitzner
    Performer:  Alban Gerhardt,  Gergana Gergova
    Conductor:  Sebastian Weigle
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra
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  • 14.
    Lotte Lehmann: A 125th Birthday Tribute [4-CD Set]
    Label: Music & Arts   Catalog: 1279 Release Date: 02/25/2014   Number of Discs: 5
    Composer:  Richard Strauss,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Charles Gounod,  Richard Wagner  ... 
    Performer:  Lotte Lehmann
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  • 15.
    Beethoven: Funeral Cantata; Schumann, Pfitzner / Thielemann
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 459062 Release Date: 01/14/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Hans Pfitzner,  Robert Schumann
    Performer:  Charlotte Margiono,  William Shimell,  Peter Blake,  Laurence Davies  ... 
    Conductor:  Christian Thielemann
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Deutsche Oper Chorus,  Berlin Deutsche Oper Orchestra,  Philharmonia Orchestra
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  • 16.
    Pfitzner: Vom Fruh zum Spatwerk / Buhl, Sandman, Urban
    Label: Thorofon   Catalog: 2599 Release Date: 11/19/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Hans Pfitzner
    Performer:  Ulrich Urban,  Reinhold Johannes Buhl,  Heidrun Sandmann
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  • 17.
    Pfitzner: Complete Lieder, Vol. 1 / Stallmeister,  Simon
    Label: Naxos   Catalog: 8572602 Release Date: 10/29/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Hans Pfitzner
    Performer:  Britta Stallmeister,  Klaus Simon
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  • 18.
    Electrola Recitals - Opera & Lied / Moser
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 282812 Release Date: 05/21/2013   Number of Discs: 9
    Composer:  Richard Strauss,  Hans Pfitzner,  Robert Schumann,  Hugo Wolf  ... 
    Performer:  Erik Werba,  Edda Moser,  Christoph Eschenbach,  Peter Schreier  ... 
    Conductor:  Peter Schneider,  Wolfgang Sawallisch,  Hans Schmidt-Isserstedt,  Eugen Jochum
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Munich Radio Orchestra,  Bavarian State Opera Orchestra,  Dresden Staatskapelle  ... 
    CD: $32.49
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  • 19.
    Busoni: Nocturne Symphonique; Pfitzner: Piano Concerto; Reger: Romantic Suite / Barto, Thielemann
    Label: Profil   Catalog: 12016 Release Date: 04/30/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Ferruccio Busoni,  Hans Pfitzner,  Max Reger
    Performer:  Tzimon Barto
    Conductor:  Christian Thielemann
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Dresden Staatskapelle
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  • 20.
    Pfitzner: Palestrina / Ventris, Rose, Young, Bavarian Radio Symphony
    Label: Euroarts   Catalog: 2072524 Release Date: 02/26/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Hans Pfitzner
    Performer:  Michael Volle,  Peter [bass voice] Rose,  Christopher Ventris,  Roland Bracht  ... 
    Conductor:  Simone Young
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bavarian State Orchestra,  Bavarian State Opera Chorus
    Blu-ray Video: $17.99
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  • 21.
    Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau - Voice of the Century [23 CDs & 2 DVDs]
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 001792900 Release Date: 01/15/2013   Number of Discs: 25
    Composer:  Franz Schubert,  Robert Schumann,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Franz Liszt  ... 
    Performer:  Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau,  Daniel Barenboim,  Jörg Demus,  Gerald Moore  ... 
    Conductor:  Rafael Kubelik,  Karl Böhm,  Lorin Maazel,  Karl Richter  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra,  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra,  Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $108.49
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  • 22.
    Pfitzner: Symphony in C - Schumann: Konzertstuck for 4 Horns / Schwarz, Seattle Symphony
    Label: Naxos   Catalog: 8572770 Release Date: 09/25/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Hans Pfitzner,  Robert Schumann,  Johannes Brahms,  Anton Webern  ... 
    Performer:  Robert Bonnevie,  Mark Robbins,  David C. Knapp,  Scott [french horn] Wilson
    Conductor:  Gerard Schwarz
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Seattle Symphony Orchestra
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  • 23.
    Pfitzner: Cello Concerto; Mayer: Praghanda, Ragamalas / Rohan De Saram
    Label: First Hand Records   Catalog: 14 Release Date: 05/08/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Hans Pfitzner,  John Mayer
    Performer:  Rohan de Saram,  Druvi De Saram,  Rohan de Saram,  John Mayer
    Conductor:  Bohumil Gregor
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Netherlands Radio Chamber Orchestra
    CD: $19.99
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  • 24.
    Pfitzner: Palestrina / Petrenko, Frankfurt Opera And Museum Orchestra
    Label: Oehms   Catalog: 930 Release Date: 04/24/2012   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Hans Pfitzner
    Performer:  Magnus Baldvinsson,  Alfred Reiter,  Peter Bronder,  Britta Stallmeister  ... 
    Conductor:  Kirill Petrenko
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Frankfurt Opera and Museum Orchestra,  Frankfurt Opera Chorus
    CD: $39.99
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  • 25.
    Apres Un Reve - Reger, Strauss, Pfitzner, Wolf-ferrari, Respighi / Maeder, Wyss
    Label: Guild   Catalog: 7373 Release Date: 04/10/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Max Reger,  Richard Strauss,  Hans Pfitzner,  Gabriel Fauré  ... 
    Performer:  Sarah Maeder,  Gérard Wyss
    CD: $11.99
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