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Hans Zender

Hans Zender
Johannes Wolfgang Zender

(1936-11-22) 22 November 1936 (age 82)
Wiesbaden, Hesse, Germany
  • Conductor
  • Composer
  • Academic

Johannes "Hans" Wolfgang Zender (born 22 November 1936) is a German conductor and composer. He was chief conductor of opera houses, and his compositions, many of them vocal music, have been performed at international festivals.


Born in Wiesbaden, Zender studied piano, conducting, and composition (the latter with Wolfgang Fortner) at the Hochschule für Musik Frankfurt and at the Hochschule für Musik Freiburg, from 1956 to 1959.

From 1959 to 1963 he was Kapellmeister of the Theater Freiburg, then principal conductor at the Theater Bonn. In 1964–65 he attended the Second Cologne Courses for New Music at the Rheinische Musikhochschule, under the artistic direction of Karlheinz Stockhausen. In 1968 he was called to Kiel, where he was Generalmusikdirektor (GMD) of the Opernhaus Kiel until 1972. The same year, he also became principal conductor of the Radio Symphony Orchestra in Saarbrücken. In 1984, Zender became head of the Hamburg State Opera and GMD of the orchestra there. From 1987 to 1990, he was chief conductor of the Chamber Orchestra of Radio Netherlands in Hilversum. Since 1999, he has been permanent guest conductor of the SWR Symphonieorchester, the orchestra of the Southwest German Radio (SWR) in Baden-Baden and Freiburg.

From 1988 until 2000, Zender taught composition at the Hochschule für Musik und Darstellende Kunst in Frankfurt am Main. In 1997, he was awarded the Goethe Prize of Frankfurt. Invited by Walter Fink, he was in 2011 the 21st composer featured in the annual Komponistenporträt of the Rheingau Musik Festival. Music included denn wiederkommen (Hölderlin lesen III) for string quartet and speaking voice (1991) and Mnemosyne (Hölderlin lesen IV) for female voice, string quartet, and tape (2000), performed by Salome Kammer and the Athena Quartet.[1]

Also he was teacher of Isabel Mundry


  • Canto I–VI for various forces
    • I: for choir, flute, piano, strings and percussion (1965)
    • II: for soprano, choir and orchestra on a text by Ezra Pound (1967)
    • III: for soprano, tenor, baritone, ten instruments and live-electronics on texts by Cervantes (1968)
    • IV: for 16 voices and 16 instruments (1969/72)
    • V: for voices with optional percussion (1972/74)
    • VI: for bass-baritone, a capella mixed choir, and optional tape (1988)
  • 3 Rondels nach Mallarmé (3 Rondels after Mallarmé) for alto, flute and viola (1966); words by Stéphane Mallarmé
  • Modelle for variable forces (1971–73)
  • Zeitströme for orchestra (1974)
  • Elemente, tape montage for two loudspeaker groups (1976)
  • Hölderlin lesen I for string quartet with sprechstimme (1979); words by Friedrich Hölderlin
  • Hölderlin lesen II for sprechstimme, viola, and live-electronics (1987); words by Friedrich Hölderlin
  • "denn wiederkommen" (Hölderlin lesen III) for string quartet and sprechstimme (1991)
  • Mnemosyne (Hölderlin lesen IV) for female voice, string quartet, and tape (2000)
  • Fünf Haiku (LO-SHU IV) for flute and strings (1982)
  • Dialog mit Haydn for two pianos and three orchestral groups (1982)
  • Stephen Climax, opera (1979–84, premièred in 1986)
  • Don Quijote de la Mancha, opera (1989–91, premièred in 1993; new version 1994, premièred in 1999)
  • Schuberts "Winterreise" — Eine komponierte Interpretation for tenor and small orchestra (1993)
  • Shir Hashirim—Lied der Lieder (Canto VIII), oratorio for soli, choir, orchestra, and live-electronics (1992/96, complete première in 1998)
  • Schumann-Fantasie for large orchestra (1997)
  • Chief Joseph, on the life of Chief Joseph, musical theatre in three acts (premièred in 2005)


  • Zender, Hans. 2004. Die Sinne denken. Texte zur Musik 1975-2003. Edited by Jörn Peter Hiekel. Wiesbaden: Breitkopf & Härtel. ISBN 3-7651-0364-0 (a nearly complete edition of Zender’s writings)
  • ———.1999. "A Road Map for Orpheus?" In Theory into Practice: Composition, Performance, and the Listening Experience. Collected writings of the Orpheus Institute 2. Edited by Peter Dejans. Leuven:Katholieke Universiteit Leuven. ISBN 90-6186-994-3
  • ———. 1991. Happy New Ears. Das Abenteuer, Musik zu hören. Freiburg im Breisgau: Herder. ISBN 3-451-04049-2
  • ———. 1998. Wir steigen niemals in denselben Fluß. Wie Musikhören sich wandelt. Second edition. Freiburg im Breisgau: Herder. ISBN 3-451-04511-7



  • Gruhn, Wilfried. 1994. "Auf der Suche nach der verlorenen Wärme? Zu Hans Zenders komponierter Interpretation von Schuberts Winterreise." Musica 48:148–54.
  • ———. 1992. "Hans Zender." In Komponisten der Gegenwart, Loseblattlexikon, edited by Hanns-Werner Heister und Walter-Wolfgang Sparrer, 12. Munich: Text+Kritik. Updated edition July 1997.
  • ———. 1985. "Musik über Musik. Vermittlungsaspekte des Streichquartetts Hölderlin lesen von Hans Zender." Musik und Bildung 17:598–605
  • Wacker, Volker. 1998. "Hans Zenders Oper Stephen Climax. Betrachtungen und Aspekte." In Musiktheater im 20. Jahrhundert = Hamburger Jahrbuch für Musikwissenschaft 10, edited by Constantin Floros, Hans Joachim Marx, and Peter Petersen, 239–58. Laaber: Laaber.


Further reading

  • Hasegawa, Robert. 2011. "Gegenstrebende Harmonik in the Music of Hans Zender". Perspectives of New Music 49, no. 1 (Winter): 207–34.

External links