Werner Egk

Werner Egk ( born May 17, 1901 in Auchsesheim, today Donauwörth; † July 10, 1983 in Inning am Ammersee; actually Werner Joseph Mayer, the pseudonym Egk, that emerged through the anagram of the initials of his wife, the violinist Elisabeth Karl and which he used since the marriage in 1923, 1937 was also an official name ) was a German composer. Egk is a representative of the German neo-classicism and the modern musical theater and is occasionally apostrophized as " Composer of reconstruction ".


Egk was the third child of the teacher Joseph Mayer and his wife Maria, née Buck. 1908 the family moved to Augsburg, where he attended from 1911 the grammar school at Saint Stephen, received first piano lessons and attended in the years 1919/20, the city's Conservatory. After graduation, he initially took private singing and piano lessons, and then studied in Frankfurt am Main and later at Carl Orff in Munich composition and conducting.

Career in the National Socialist State

From 1930 to 1933 Egk worked for the Bavarian Radio, where he began his career as a conductor and as a guest conductor in 1935, which he continued 1936-1940 as a conductor at the Staatsoper Unter den Linden in Berlin. Then he settled as a freelance composer, especially in Lochham near Munich. Between 1941 and 1945 he was head of the student council composers of STAGMA ( Federally recognized society for musical performing rights ) in the Reich Music Chamber.

1933 set to music written by Kurt Eggers Egk the Nazi festival job, the German. At the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin, he was an Olympic gold medal in the category " orchestral music " for his work Olympic festival music. In May 1938, came to the performance of his cantata nature love - death at the final concert of the first Reichsmusiktage in Dusseldorf ( Degenerate with the Schandschau music). In November 1938 his opera Peer Gynt premiered. Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels noted in his diary on February 1, 1939: " I am very excited and the guide also. A recent discovery for both of us. "

1939 Music Prize he was awarded by Goebbels. In May 1941, he was responsible for the music for the HJ- film ( government contract movie ) boys with the march of the German youth to a text by Hans Fritz Beckmann ( " driving, driving us, the flag flies ahead! Greater Germany called our proud ship, it we stand, man for man ").

Egk stood on the created Gottbegnadeten 1944 list as one of the most important composers of the Nazi state. 1948, his ballet Abraxas was deposed on appeal by the Ministry of Culture after 5 performances.

Denazification court and trial before the District Court of Munich

In a trial before the District Court of Munich Werner Egk complained in 1969 to the composer and music critic Konrad Boehmer. Boehmer had spoken in an anthology criticism / by whom / for whom / how the Hanser -Verlag about Werner Egk as " one of the worst figures of Nazi music policy." The procedure was completed with a comparison. Already in 1947, Egk fought in a denazification court, among other things against the claim of the witness Kurt Arnold that he was the person sitting in the stage box Goering greeted at the premiere of " Don Carlos " at the Berlin State Opera with his hand raised in the Hitler salute and battered hacking. He, Egk, have given only the cues for the horns on the left under the lodge. In its reasoning, the Court put it:

Career in Postwar Germany

After the war Egk worked from 1950 to 1953 as director of the " Academy of Music" in West Berlin. In 1950 he became president of the co-founders of the German Composers ' Association and Chairman of the Supervisory Board of GEMA, 1951 Member of the Bavarian Academy of Fine Arts, 1964 Member of the Broadcasting Council of the Bavarian Radio, honorary member of the playwright Union eV honorary member of the Municipal Theater Augsburg and guest conductor of the Bavarian State Opera in Munich. 1968 President of the German Music Council and 1976 President of the Confédération Internationale des Sociétés d' Auteurs et Composers ( CISAC ).

The composer found his final resting place in the municipal cemetery Donauwörth. Donauwörth named him an honorary citizen in 1971.



  • Columbus. Radio opera (1933 ) and Opera (1942 )
  • The magic violin (after Franz Graf von Pocci, libretto by Ludwig Strecker ) (1935, revised 1954)
  • Peer Gynt by Henrik Ibsen (1938 )
  • Circe by Pedro Calderon de la Barca (1945, premiere 1948 makeover as Opera semibuffa under the title 17 days and 4 minutes, 1966)
  • Libretto for the opera Abstract No. 1 for Boris Blacher (1953 )
  • Irish Legend by William Butler Yeats (1955, revised 1975)
  • The Government Inspector by Nikolai Gogol (1957 )
  • Betrothal in San Domingo by Heinrich von Kleist (1963 )


  • Joan of Zarissa for narrator, mixed chorus, soprano, baritone and orchestra (1940 ) it into a concert suite, and a triptych for orchestra
  • It into a concert suite
  • From a Divertissement for string orchestra

Orchestral works

  • Incidental music for the theater Munich ( before 1924 )
  • Little Symphony (1926 )
  • Olympic Music Festival (1936, with text by Carl Diem )
  • Orchestra Sonata (1947 /48)
  • French Suite by Jean -Philippe Rameau (1949; ballet 1952)
  • Allegria (1952; ballet 1953)
  • Variations on a Caribbean theme (1959, as a ballet entitled Danza, 1960)
  • Sonata No. 2 for orchestra ( 1969)
  • Mirror time (1979 )
  • Music for a lost romance. Overture ( 1980)
  • The Government Inspector. Concert Suite for trumpet and chamber orchestra ( 1981)
  • The magic violin. Overture in a version for wind instruments ( 1981)
  • Canzona for cello and orchestra (1982 )
  • After-dance ( Opus Posthumous, premiere 1985)

Vocal music

  • Fearlessness and benevolence. Oratorio for tenor, mixed choir and orchestra; ( 1930/31, revised 1959)
  • Altius - Citius - Fortius. Olympic Cantata (1936 )
  • La Tentation de Saint Antoine d'après the airs et des vers du 18e siècle for alto, string quartet and string orchestra (1952; ballet 1969)
  • Afterfeel. Cantata for soprano and orchestra by Klabund (1975 )


  • The Lion and the Mouse. Sing game for children (1931 )
  • The Fox and the Crow. Sing game for children (1932 )
  • The history of the Knight Don Juan from Barcelona. According to an old folk game ( 1932)

Film Music

  • The Lord of Earth Girls (film with Heinz Rühmann 1948 )


Awards and honors

In Donauwörth reminds him of the magic violin well ( on the boardwalk ), the Werner - Egk meeting and the Werner - Egk Music School.