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Fritz Werner (Conductor, Organ, Composer)

Born: December 15, 1898 - Berlin, Germany
Died: December 2, 1977

The German conductor and organist, Fritz Werner, descended from a family of musicians. He began his studies in Berlin in 1920, learning taking theory with Egidi, organ with Heitmann, piano with K. Schubert, musical analysis and history with Seiffert and J. Wolff, and composition (1932-1935) under G.A. Schünemann. He also studied the violin. In 1935 he won the Mendelssohn Prize for composition.

In 1936 he stated his career as a church musician at Berlin and Potsdam, where he became Kirchenmusikdirektor in 1938. He served as organist at Potsdam until the outbreak of World War II, when he left Germany and became a music director of the German radio in occupied France.

After the war he returned to Germany, settling this time at Heilbronn. From 1946 to 1964 he was organist at St. Kilian’s, founding in 1947 the Heinrich-Schütz-Chor Heilbronn, with which he undertook several major tours in Germany and abroad. In 1954, the land of Baden-Württemberg granted him the title of Professor, and in 1974 the French Ministry of Culture nominated him Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres.

With the Heinrich-Schütz-Chor Heilbronn and the Pforzheim Chamber Orchestra Fritz Werner recorded over 50 J.S. Bach's cantatas, as well as the two Passions (BWV 244 & BWV 245), the Christmas (BWV 248) and Easter (BWV 249) Oratorios, the B minor Mass (BWV 232), and the Motets (BWV 225-230).

Werner’s J.S. Bach recordings are uneven in quality, but his finest performances show him to have been a thoughtful, scrupulous, and effective interpreter. He was discerning in his choice of soloists and outstandingly well served by his instrumentalists.

Fritz Werner was equally distinguished as a vocal and instrumental composer. His sacred music consists mainly of Choral cantatas, ‘Lieder-Cantatas’ and motets, and he also wrote an Oratorio for Whitsun (Pentecoste). For easter he wrote a little cantata for the church service. The essence of his style stems from a fundamentally tonal approach, as can be seen elsewhere in his works for piano and chamber ensemble, symphonies, and other large orchestral pieces. In the diverse world of contemporary music, the quality of his compositions, with their unmistakable stamp of the church musician and performer, has assured him a place of distinction.

Source: Oxford Composer Companion – J.S. Bach (1999, by Nicholas Anderson); Liner notes to the 2-CD album ‘J.S. Bach: Kantaten BWV 19, 40, 70, 140, 149. 180’ conducted by F. Werner (Erato)
Contributed by
Aryeh Oron (April 2001), Roland Wörner (August 2002)

Fritz Werner: Short Biography | Heinrich-Schütz-Chor Heilbronn | Pforzheim Chamber Orchestra | Württembergisches Kammerorchester Heilbronn
Recordings of Vocal Works:
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | General Discussions | BWV 244 - F. Werner
Table of recordings by BWV Number

Use of Chorale Melodies in his works


Chorale Melody


Herr, das soll mein Erbe sein, daß ich dein Wort halte erhalt uns, Herr, bei deinem Wort, for 3-voice mixed choir & Gemeinde-Ges. organ. u. Pos. ad lib (Kleine Motette vom Worte Gottes) (Kassel: Bärenreiter-Verl., 1959)

Erhalt uns, Herr bei deinem Wort


Links to other Sites

WERNER, Fritz (BBKL) [German]


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