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Giselher Klebe

Giselher Wolfgang Klebe (28 June 1925 – 5 October 2009) was a German composer. He composed more than 140 works, among them 14 operas, 8 symphonies, 15 solo concerts, chamber music, piano works, and sacred music.


Giselher Klebe was born in Mannheim, Germany. He received musical tuition early in his life from his mother, the violinist Gertrud Klebe. The family relocated in 1932 to Munich, where his mother's sister, Melanie Michaelis, continued the training. His father's profession required a further relocation in 1936 to Rostock.

Following the separation of his parents, Klebe moved with his mother and sister to Berlin. During 1938, the 13-year old sketched his first compositions. In 1940, he began studies in violin, viola, and composition, supported by a grant from the city of Berlin.

After serving his Reichsarbeitsdienst (Labour Service), Klebe was conscripted to military service as signalman. After the German surrender, he was taken prisoner of war by the Russian forces. Due to ill health, he was soon released.

Having convalesced, Klebe continued his music studies in Berlin (1946–1951), first under Joseph Rufer, then in master classes by Boris Blacher. He worked for the radio station Berliner Rundfunk until 1948, when he began to work full-time as a composer.

Klebe was inspired and influenced by works of authors and artists, especially his contemporaries. In 1951 he composed Die Zwitschermaschine Op. 7, (The Twittering Machine), based on the well-known painting by Paul Klee.[1] His first opera, based on Friedrich Schiller's play Die Räuber (The Robbers), was produced in 1957.[1] He composed two operas based on plays by Ödön von Horváth.

In 1957, Klebe succeeded Wolfgang Fortner as docent for the subjects of Composition and Music Theory at the Hochschule für Musik Detmold. He was appointed professor in 1962 and, over the years, taught many students who went on to become well-known composers: Theo Brandmüller, Peter Michael Braun, Hans Martin Corrinth, Thomas Meyer-Fiebig, Matthias Pintscher, and Lars Woldt.

Honors and legacy

  • In 1964 Klebe was appointed member of the West Berlin Akademie der Künste (Arts Academy).
  • In 1965 he received the Westfälischer Musikpreis (later named the Hans-Werner-Henze-Preis).
  • In 2002, the city of Detmold, where he lived, made him an honorary citizen.

Marriage and family

On 10 September 1946 Klebe married the violinist Lore Schiller. They have two daughters, Sonja Katharina and Annette Marianne. Lore Klebe wrote the librettos for some of his operas, including Der Jüngste Tag (Doomsday).

Klebel died on 5 October 2009 in Detmold at the age of 84 after a long illness from liver cancer.[2]


Opus Title Category
4 Piano sonata Piano sonata
7 Die Zwitschermaschine Orchestral work
13 Wiegenlieder für Christinchen Piano work
22 Elegia appassionata Piano trio
25 Die Räuber (The Robbers) Opera
26 4 Inventions Piano work
27 Die tödlichen Wünsche
(The Deadly Wishes)
29 Cello Concerto No. 1 Cello concerto
32 Die Ermordung Cäsars
(The Murder of Caesar)
36 Alkmene Opera
37 Adagio and Fugue with a motif
from Richard Wagner's Walküre
Orchestral work
39 9 Duettini per pianoforte e flauto Duo
40 Figaro lässt sich scheiden
(Figaro Gets Divorced)
49 Jacobowsky und der Oberst
(Jacobovsky and the Colonel)
50 Concerto a cinque Concerto
53 Symphony No. 3 (1966) Symphony
55 Das Märchen von der schönen Lilie
(The Fairy Tale of the Fair Lily)
61 Das Testament Orchestral work
69 Ein wahrer Held (A True Hero) Opera
70 Nenia Chamber music
72 Das Mädchen aus Domrémy
(The Girl from Domrémy)
73 Orpheus Orchestral work
75 Symphony No. 5 (1976–77) Symphony
76 9 Piano pieces for Sonja Piano work
78 Das Rendezvous Opera
82 Der Jüngste Tag (Doomsday) Opera
87 String Quartet No. 3 String quartet
90 Die Fastnachtsbeichte
(Carnival Confession)
91 Feuersturz Piano work
103 Glockentürme Piano work
111 Nachklang Piano work
119 Gervaise Macquart Opera
120 Symphony No. 6 (1996) Symphony
133 Mignon Violin concerto
134 Chara Duo
149 Chlestakows Wiederkehr
(Khlestakov's Return)


  • Erik Levi, "Klebe, Giselher", in The New Grove Dictionary of Opera, ed. Stanley Sadie (London, 1992) ISBN 0-333-73432-7
  • Grove Music Online, ed. L. Macy, Oxford University Press, accessed 1 March 2008 (subscription only as of 2009 with Oxford)

External links

  • "G. Klebe", Klassika

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