Personalities | Hans Pfitzner | Modern Era | Classical
(Hanz Fits’-ner) 1869–1949
An opponent of all forms of modernism, Pfitzner composed his own music in a late-Romantic but highly individual style. His opera Palestrina (1917) – his confession of faith and his masterpiece – is about the cumulative wisdom of tradition, but also its renewal. His German nationalism was more idealistic than political, but his reputation was harmed by his cantankerous nature and by the title of one of his cantatas: Vom deutscher Seele (‘Of the German Soul’, 1921), which was assumed to be Nazi propaganda. It was not – he wrote it long before the rise of the Nazis – and its radiant depictions of nature went unheard for many years. He wrote three other operas, distinguished orchestral and chamber music and many fine songs.
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