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Carlos Enrique Veerhoff (3 June 1926 in Buenos Aires – 18 February 2011 in Murnau) was an Argentine-born German composer of classical music. Carlos Veerhoff Germanized his second forename later and varied first between "Heiner" and "Heinrich", but later settled on "Carlos Heinrich Veerhoff".
Carlos Enrique Veerhoff was born with his twin brother, Wolfgang Otto, as premature infants. Their father could only find a hospital with an incubator two days later, so that the birth date in the birth certificate is 5 June 1926, not the correct date of 3 June.
His father, Heinrich Veerhoff, was German and the head of an own company in Buenos Aires. His mother, Karla, was a violinist and the daughter of conductor Karl Panzner and singer Ida Panzner.
The Veerhoff family moved back to Germany in 1930 due to a job change by the father.
In 1933, the family moved on to South Africa. The countryside and the way of living in Africa had a great impact on the young Carlos Veerhoff, and these impressions found their way into several compositions of his later years. Another experience in South Africa was important for him as well: In 1935, the first South African airline was founded, and the young Carlos got the opportunity to take part at a pleasure flight.
Afterwards, he developed an enormous interest in flight engineering, which was only replaced later by music. But Carlos Veerhoff kept his love of natural science his whole life.
After the return of the Veerhoff family to Germany in 1935, Carlos started to attend orchestral and chamber music concerts. Also, the music played at home - his father was a good pianist and his mother a professional violinist - contributed to his future interest in classical music. This development culminated in Carlos deciding at the age of 15 to become a composer. At that time, he took his first lesson in composition theory, and in 1942 he became a student at the Musisches Gymnasium in Frankfurt am Main.
In 1950, Ferenc Fricsay was looking for a composition by an Argentine composer for an upcoming concert in Buenos Aires. From a selection of compositions, he chose the "Musica concertante for chamber orchestra" by Carlos Veerhoff and later conducted the world premiere. Fricsay offered him a position as an assistant to him, so Carlos Veerhoff followed Fricsay to Berlin. But from his point of view, the atmosphere in Germany was anti-artistic, and he returned to Argentina just a year later.
Despite his success and the performances of his music, Carlos Veerhoff remained a musical outsider:
Carlos Veerhoff remained a composer in the German musical life who did not follow actual composition fashions. He called himself "clique-free" and paid this freedom with the fact that he was never offered a professorship and could not find a renowned publishing house for his compositions. Among the circle of influential German composers and critics he was never accepted as a real avant-gardist, because his advancement of the dodecaphony was unorthodox and beside all contemporary aspects always kept references to tradition.
Due to his exclusion from the close music establishment in Germany, Carlos Veerhoff often went back to Argentina. Only from 1970 on did he permanently stay in Germany to his death. From 1988, he lived in Murnau, Bavaria, near Munich. His collection of papers is in the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek and a private archive.
Franzpeter Messmer/Thomas Schipperges/Verena Weidner/Günther Weiß: Carlos H. Veerhoff. (= Komponisten in Bayern Bd. 47, hg. Alexander L. Suder), Verlag Hans Schneider, Tutzing 2006, ISBN3-7952-1201-4
Thomas Schipperges: Veerhoff, Carlos H. In: Komponisten der Gegenwart , hrsg. von Hanns-Werner Heister und Walter-Wolfgang Sparrer, 10. Nachlieferung, text+kritik, München 1996
Thomas Schipperges: Veerhoff, Carlos H. In: Die Musik in Geschichte und Gegenwart(MGG). 2. Ausgabe, Bd. 16: Strat – Vil, Personenteil. Bärenreiter-Verlag, Kassel und Stuttgart 2006, Sp. 1377–1379, ISBN3-476-41031-5
Wilfried Wolfgang Bruchhaeuser (Hrsg.): Komponisten der Gegenwart im Deutschen Komponisten-Verband. Verlag Deutscher Komponisten-Verband, Berlin 1985, S. 752