Heinz Winbeck was born on February 11th of 1946 on Piflas near Landshut as the fourth child of a lower bavarian countrified family.

The "poor childhood" was remembered by Heinz Winbeck as a fortunate one. Yet the full absence of a musical education background – desist from the fact that his biological father was a quite favored "Gstanzlsaenger" (an improvised four-row bavarian folk song) – the boy compensated from self-taught writing and writing notes at the age of four. He had necessarily found an activity because the mother had to lock him in to earn money as a cleaning lady.

Appreciation and taste for the infinity the catholic church did wake in him which the deeply religious mother served as a sacristan and which the son ministered as an altar boy and organist. However, a priest had to run over the boy with his motorbike before the other cleric decided concerning the smart money: "Do buy this boy a piano!" and created by saying so the premises of a musical career.

The teacher advanced the defection of the high skilled child to the humanistic school „Hans-Carossa-Gymnasium“. Admittedly he developed himself from a teacher's pet to a class rebel who

Admittedly he developed himself from a teacher's pet to a class rebel who preferably composed truanting from school at the shore of the Isar river and called on his classmates to refuse military service – anyhow war experienced teachers demonstrated "correct shooting" in their classes!

The first trip to Munich in 1964 with the goal to make inquiries of the terms of a musical study led to the encounter with the pianist Magda Rusy, who accepted the adolescent immediately in her class and supported him as a wonderful teacher. The subjects Composition and Conducting (Fritz Rieger) affiliated for which Heinz Winbeck had to cross over to the "Hochschule für Musik" in Munich to Jan Koetsier, Harald Genzmer and Günter Bialas.

Especially the entrance into the composition class of Günter Bialas was crucial because one opened supported by the teacher himself to the youngest developments of contemporary music.

Especially the entrance into the composition class of Günter Bialas was crucial because one opened supported by the teacher himself to the youngest developments of contemporary music. From this class arose the phenomenon which was characterized in the 70s as the loose union of the "Munich School" whose music established in concerts of the concert series "Music of our time" where these early yet connected to his study but already free composed ensemble pieces like "Espaces", "Sonoscillant", "Sie tanzt" (she dances) after poems by Nelly Sachs found themselves an intrigued audience.

He was deeply affected by himself from the way of the Second Viennese School and there from the music of Alban Berg that he – the human factor always in the center – paid a visit to the 86 years old Helene Berg in Vienna. Personal meetings always remained a source of light in the life of Heinz Winbeck that lightened a great dark for a long time no matter what if it the person that he met was Helene Berg, or the farmer Franziska Jägertsätter (Franz Jägerstätter was decapitated for denying war service under Hitler) or the Federal President Gustav Heinemann, who opened the Villa Hammerschmidt not only to state guests but to culture as well that he concerned socially underexposed. In the case of contemporary music, the villa was opened to the music of Wilhelm Killmyer (Conductor: Heinz Winbeck) and later one discussed with the married couple Heinemann, Hilde Domin, Eugen Kogon and so on the political situation and the correct behavior of the "Bundespräsident".

Heinz Winbeck, who successfully passed his exam in 1972 performed his piece „Entgegengesang“ for orchestra at "Stuttgarter Musikfest" in 1974. Although his works were awarded the freelance composer also wanted to face a „bread-and-butter-job“ and became musical director of the Ingolstadt theater which was emerging under the Silstgen era, with a lot of gain in musical, literary and psychological experience, but also considerable wear and tear with the risk of losing the "own", so that after four years he tore himself away despite the lucrative offers released into freedom.

In 1980 Heinz Winbeck took up a teaching position at the Munich University of Music, from 1987 as a lecturer for sound composition and ear training. In 1981 he received the City of Munich's promotional award, the TZ-Rose (together with Leonard Bernstein!) after his "Lenau Fantasies" have been performed with great medial echo by the Munich Chamber Orchestra in the Herkulessaal in 1980. Here he freed himself from the constraints of an avant-garde that continues to advance the experimental, to write down, without taboos, what the inner ear hears when it enters a dialogical situation across times and limits of life.

Heinz Winbeck remained contemporary in an existential sense, whether in the metaphysical radicalism of his 1st symphony, 'Tu Solus' (1984), or in the universality of the second (1987), which spanned evolution to the "hunted" and ultimately also music-destroying present or in the historical tragedy of the third, 'Grodek' (1988) as well. The highly personal way of going beyond tradition and modernity, which he then followed more resolutely from symphony to symphony, earned him on the one hand great enthusiasm from people who were looking for them, who described their listening impressions to him in long letters, but on the other hand, rejected them Hardliners of new music who excluded him from their ranks as "backward".

Heinz Winbeck did not take up the gauntlet, but withdrew more and more, although with performances of his symphonies in Donaueschingen, in the series "Music of our time" in Munich, Bonn, and Saarbrücken in the eighties, a broad foundation for a career as a composer was laid. Both pride and humility, but definitely a sense of shame prevented Lower Bavaria from marketing itself better. He almost had to be brought into the "big world" by force, declined a Villa Massimo grant in Rome, but composed the three orchestral fragments "Think I think of Haydn" during a fellowship in Paris in 1982 (the German poet Heinrich Heine sends his regards).

However, the conductor Dennis Russel Davies, who had heard Winbeck's music in Donaueschingen, managed to take him across the ocean to California in 1988 as a "composer in residence" at the Cabrillo Festival in Santa Cruz. These performances and especially the human encounters associated with it as well should also remain unforgettable.It was Dennis Russel Davies that premiered almost all of Winbeck's symphonies. The "brightly shining" America experience should, however, tear Winbeck out of the completion of the third symphony "Grodek" which plot is located in a completely different "dark" mood, that he completed the UA in November (in the series 'Musica Viva' Herkulessaal Munich) only in the last second after going through a deep depression.

With the three major first symphonies which were written in Landshut in an old fisherman's house on the Isar, Heinz Winbeck had almost completely turned away from the ensemble pieces of the seventies and towards the great form, contrasting only with chamber music. He was probably looking for the challenge of the great form, which required the wide bow and the unconditional expression. Heinz Winbeck drew the sum of his existence in each symphony - and thus that of the respective time, the shocks of which he absorbed like a seismograph.

At the end of the eighties, the transfer of the composition professorship at the University of Music in Würzburg started a new phase of life. From the fisherman's house on the Isar to the
Jura vicarage in the Altmühl valley, which also had to be saved from decay by restoration, but then offered space as an "open house" to other artist friends, composers and composition students, and there was even an intensive "Russian phase" - at the same time as Glasnost!

The teaching of his composition class was very important to Heinz Winbeck, although he did not specify any "direction" or "school" - the only thing that was binding was the consequence of working out his own ideas, musical credibility in the sense of inner listening and sense of formal proportions – mastery of the "Craft" always assumed, but also the awake examination of the burning problems of the time, their reflection in philosophy, science, literature, and the other arts. What may sound a bit too holistic here, but corresponded entirely to his unspoiled, self-taught passion from a young age, with which he, as a good teacher, was now able to infect his students and, according to many (after his surprising death), had often enriched their lives in a pioneering way.

After the mother died in 1993 of a severe death and the son could no longer save her, he placed his greatest work in the coffin, his requiem (4th symphony) – certainly, a unique grave addition for the simple, deeply religious woman who was in agony nevertheless had not been able to take comfort from religion. The son was also affected during his "greatest possible distance from the church" – nevertheless, in this "tremendously" large-scale soul migration into the interior of the earth, the parts of the Catholic funeral mass prevailed after the only spoken introduction to Trakl: Requiem, Lux Perpetua, De Profundis, Dies Irae, Tuba Mirum… but not in the traditionally pious, grave, but ultimately satisfying manner, but agitated, the despair crying out from the lost heart. "Greatest work" can be related to cast, duration (80 minutes), aspiration, depth, meaning.

This opus was premiered in 1993 in Bonn and Cologne by Dennis Russel Davies. The existential force of this gigantic work, which for many is frighteningly overwhelming, was not matched by the music criticism, which only did its job every evening since it rather resented the composer in size, effort, and existential authenticity.
Perhaps Heinz Winbeck would have left this fourth symphony as the last if Dennis Russel Davies - interestingly while the conductor and composer bowed in the final applause after the second symphony was performed at the Vienna Concert Society - had not asked him to end Bruckner's unfinished ninth symphony.

"Now and in the hour of death" should be the name of this closely connected, yet original three-movement composition, which after seven years of preparatory work in 2010 (with the working title "In Bruckner's Head") was ultimately written and was launched by D.R. Davies and the Bruckner Orchestra as the 5th symphony. Heinz Winbeck had come to the conclusion that composing the final with the available material was wrong and presumptuous - the attempts already made proved this - but not the attempt to create a panorama of the inner perceptions of a dying composer who failed " Finale ”in a double sense of the word. He was deeply familiar with Bruckner's world of consciousness.

In view of the particularly long “incubation period” of this 5th symphony, which has to do in part with the obligations of “teaching”, Heinz Winbeck's very own way of working should also be remembered. So he composed neither on the piano nor on the computer, made almost no sketches, but – after the usually very long preparatory work - built up an inner picture from one side of the score to the other in his head and heart until it was – handwritten correctly – were written straight away. It was not understandable.
It was to be his last large-scale work and to culminate in his examination of the phenomenon of death from youth on from the romantic yearning for death to the horror of the world wars and the Holocaust to dealing with near-death experiences and the extinction of species.

However, there was still a lyrical aftertaste: the "Lebensstürme" (2011), composed at the request of the choreographer Jochen Ulrich as a "dance music", as well as the danced "Winterreise", which had been composed for a long time – 1996 – and can also be performed in concert.

A wistfully beautiful farewell that carries five Schubert songs in its stream of life like precious islands. Afterward, when he was asked by his students or friends why he no longer composed, the retired man from the music business always answered: "I said everything".

He died of pneumonia on the night of March 26, 2019, a surprise to everyone.

The CD box he still looked after, introduced by Thorsten Preuss and published by Andreas Ziegler (TYXart), with all his five symphonies, to which he nevertheless had to be urged, appeared a few months after his death.
But despite retreat and a lifelong struggle against melancholy, (exacerbated by the knowledge of his own father's suicide), always taking sides for the victims, the hunted for the human success story, Heinz Winbeck was not a somber or bitter man, but a contented, sometimes even more humorous! Don't you hear that too?

Gerhilde Winbeck, 15. Februar 2020

[© by Gerhilde Winbeck]
Translation by PD Dr. Daniel Hensel

PDF-Version (German original)

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