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German avant-garde composer dead at 86

Hans Werner Henze, one of Germany's leading composers has died. Famous for his plethora of operas, stage pieces and symphonies, he will be remembered as one of Germany's most influential avant-garde writers.

The avant-garde composer Hans Werner Henze died on Saturday aged 86 in the eastern German city of Dresden, his publisher, Schott Music, annnounced.

"With the death of Hans Werner Henze, we have lost one of the most versatile, important and influential composers of our time," read a statement on the Schott website.

Born in the western German town of Gütersloh in 1926, Henze wrote more than 40 operas and pieces for the stage, 10 symphonies, concertos, chamber music, and a requiem.

"What is unique about his work is the union of timeless beauty with contemporary commitment," the Schott statement read.

Henze lived with Fausto Moroni, his partner of more than 50 years, in the Albani hills outside Rome. His partner died in 2007.

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Composer Hans Werner Henze Dies at 86

The composer was perhaps best known for his theater and symphony collaborations with the Austrian poet Ingeborg Bachman, who wrote the libretti for his operas "The Prince of Homburg," "The Young Lord," "Elegy for Young Lovers" and "The Bassarida," which Schott called "milestones in his compositional output."

Henze once said that "many things wander from the concert hall to the stage and vice-versa."

The eldest of six children, Henze's early interest in arts and music, as well as his homosexuality and nonconformist politics, brought him into conflict with his father, a member of the Nazi party.

Henze was called up to serve in the German army in 1944, where he became a radio officer. Captured by British forces soon after, he was held in a prisoner camp for the remainder of the war.

Henze's experience during this time left him with a lifelong hatred of war and fascism, he said in an interview shortly before his death.

jlw/mkg (AFP, AP, dapd)

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