Graener, Paul


Graener, Paul

Hanneles Himmelfahrt, complete opera

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Paul Graener – Hanneles Himmelfahrt

(b. Berlin, 11 Jan 1872 – d. Salzburg, 13 Nov 1944)

Preface (by Jürgen Schaarwächter, 2018. Translation: Siavash Sabetrohani )
Paul Graener was a contemporary of Max von Schilling, Karol Szymanowki, and Volkmar Andreaes, evidence of which can be seen in the similarities between his sound world and that of his contemporaries. Graener was born on 11 January 1872 in Berlin and was brought up by his relatives after the early death of his parents. After leaving his school unfinished, he went to various places, such as Bremerhaven where he worked as the Theaterkapellmeister for a few months and premiered his first stage work, the operetta Backfische auf Reisen (“Traveling Teenagers”). Graener received his first long-term position in 1898 as the music director at the legendary Royal Haymarket Theater of London. After living in London for more than ten years, where he established his family and obtained British citizenship in 1909, Graener went to Vienna in 1910 to assume a position as composition teacher at the New Conservatory of Vienna (Neuer Wiener Konservatorium). After a year, he was named as the director of the Mozarteum in Salzburg, where he strove for fundamental reforms. Shortly after Graener’s departure, Mozarteum’s status was upgraded from a music school (Musikschule) to a conservatory (Konservatorium).

From 1914, Graener lived in Dresden and Munich and continued his compositional activity as a freelance artist until 1920, when he was hired at the Conservatory of Leipzig as a successor to Max Reger. His accomplishments were later commended in the festschrift of the Leipzig Hochschule: “He succeeded in processing different style influences from modern times, however, without impinging on actual modernity.” Graener managed to melt elements of impressionism in his works, the like of which no other German composer of his generation had done. Yet, he was ultimately bound to the musical ideals of late romanticism, which best represented his deepest lyrical nature. Graener’s elegant and urbane demeanor may have contributed to the fact that mostly foreigners studied with him. The professorship was suspended for financial reasons in 1925, and so he left the historic Leipzig institution. He returned to Munich and dedicated the next six years of his life to composition. He returned to Berlin in mid-1929, where he became the director of the Stern Conservatory. In 1933, he gave this position to his deputy and took over a master class in composition at the Prussian Academy of Arts in Berlin. He was partially able to dissociate himself from the Third Reich (among others as member of the Kampfbund (battle-league) for the German culture, as party member and leader of the students of the composition department, and later vice-president of the State Music Bureau [Reichsmusikkammer]) before he was prevented from conducting a masterclass at the Prussian Academy of Arts in 1940, because he was unable to document his Aryan ancestry and was accused of too close contact with Jews. In 1941, he resigned from his position as the vice-president of the State Music Bureau. His British nationality, which he possessed his entire life, remained unknown to the authorities. Graener spent the World War II years in Berlin, until his apartment was destroyed during bombings in 1944. Via Munich and Wiesbaden, he then fled with his family, first to Metz, so as to make it to Salzburg via Vienna. He died in Salzburg at the age of 72, on 13 November 1944. …


Read full preface > HERE

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