Repertoire Search

Hans Werner Henze

Publisher: Chester Music

L' heure bleue (2001)
commissioned by Alte Oper Frankfurt and funded by AGIV AG
Chester Music Ltd
Large Ensemble (7 or more players)
Sub Category
Year Composed
10 Minutes

Buy this work
Worldwide Sales   North American Sales
Full Score Full Score

Programme Note
Hans Werner Henze L' heure bleue (2001)
Those who live on the shores of the Mediterranean call dusk ‘the blue hour’ because, in summer as in winter, in the evening after the sun has set and before the moon has risen, it suddenly and unexpectedly begins on the western horizon with a kind of opaline blue that slowly darkens in colour. But, as a source of wonderment, it is also present in all other parts of the world as well – always assuming that the sky is cloudless. This is the time when daylight fades and night, which has been waiting in the wings, enters gravely and very slowly, calmly transforming the whole of this world of ours. Our inner lives, too, are affected by this: hopes, fears, first love and loneliness are caressed by the gentlest and most beautiful evening light as though by comforting words or by snatches of music long forgotten.

I could perhaps have offered a more scientifically accurate description of the process by which the sky gradually pales and darkens and not regarded this process as of secondary importance, as the composition suggests at first sight (or, rather, at a first hearing). For that, we should have needed the courage to express things that are formless and speechless – instead of this and, as it were, by way of a substitute we have a large number of multiple shapes and symbols that appear to come into view as the light continues to change, their every move reflecting the shifting colours – clearly, not unclearly – so that only then can they be communicated and understood. Yet I conjure up no black winter sounds but only the contentedly contemplative atmosphere of a summer evening’s serenade. There should be calm. We want our peace.

© Hans Werner Henze

Die an den Rändern des Mittelmeers Lebenden nennen die blaue Stunde bei ihrem Namen „Die blaue Stunde“, weil sie tatsächlich am west-östlichen Horizont plötzlich, wie unerwartet, mit einer Art sich langsam verdunkelnden Opalinblau beginnt, abends nach Sonnenuntergang und vor Mondaufgang, sommers wie winters. Sie ist aber auch in allen anderen Teilen der Welt vorhanden und zu bewundern. Allerdings setzt sie Wolkenlosigkeit voraus! Es ist dies die Zeit, wo der Tag sich ausklinkt und wo die Nacht , die draussen schon gewartet hat, gravitätisch und sehr langsam herbei sich schickt und in aller Ruhe alle Welt verwandelt. Auch das menschliche Innenleben ist davon betroffen: Hoffnungen, Bangen, erste Liebe und Einsamkeit werden vom sanftesten & schönsten Abendlicht gestreift wie tröstende Wörter oder Fragmente aus vergessenen Musikstücken.

Ich hätte vielleicht gern den Vorgang des graduellen Verblassens und Dunkelwerdens wissenschaftlich genauer beschrieben und nicht so sehr für eine Nebensache genommen wie die Komposition auf den ersten Blick (bzw. beim ersten Hören) erscheinen lässt. Wir hätten dafür den Mut zum Ungeformten, Sprachlosen haben müssen - stattdessen gibt es, sozusagen ersatzweise, eine Anzahl multipler Gestalten und Symbole, die sich bei ständig wechselndem Licht vorzubewegen scheinen und mit deren Tun und Lassen die Verfärbungen sich vollziehen - deutlich, nicht undeutlich! - damit sie uns kommunikabel und nachvollziehbar werden möchten. Und ich beschwöre hier keine schwarzen Wintertöne, sondern eher eine sommernächtliche gemütliche Serenadenstimmung. Es soll Ruhe sein. Wir wollen unseren Frieden.

© Hans Werner Henze

  • 06 NOV 2018
    Jordan Hall, Boston, MA
    New England Conservatory Wind Ensemble
    Nicholas Kitchen, Yeesun Kim; Charles Peltz, conductor
  • 11 SEP 2014
    Palace of Arts Budapest, Hungary
    Budapest Festival Orchestra
    Ollu , conductor
  • 04 SEP 2014
    Budapest, Hungary
    Budapest Festival Orchestra
    Franck Ollu, conductor
  • 08 NOV 2013
    Karlsruhe, Germany
    Mitglieder der Badischen Stattskapelle
    Ulrich Wagner, conductor
  • 10 AUG 2013
    Banff, AB, Canada
    The Banff Centre
    Johannes Debus, conductor

    Other Dates:
    11 August - Banff, AB, Canada
  • 04 MAY 2013
    Barbican, London
    Britten Sinfonia
  • 27 SEP 2012
    Semperoper Dresden, Germany
    Dresden Staatskapelle
    Michael Jurowski, conductor
  • 28 MAR 2012
    Meiningen, Germany
    Meininger Hofkapelle
    Alexander Steinitz, conductor
  • 14 JUN 2010
    Karlsruhe, Germany
    Ensemble der Hochschule für Musik Karlsruhe
  • 14 DEC 2006
    Brussels, Belgium
    Koninklijk Conservatorium
  • 14 OCT 2006
    San Francisco, USA
    San Francisco Conservatory of Music
    Nicole Paiement, conductor
  • 18 FEB 2005
    RTE Living Music Festival
    Mahony Hall, Glasnevin, Dublin
    Ensemble Modern
    Sian Edwards, conductor
  • 26 OCT 2003
    Oosterpoort, Groningen, The Netherlands
    Schönberg Ensemble
    Reinbert de Leeuw, conductor
  • 03 OCT 2003
    Linhart Hall, Ljubljana, Slovenia
    Ensemble of the Conservatorium van Amsterdam
  • 11 SEP 2003
    Concertgebouw, Amsterdam
    Schönberg Ensemble
    Reinbert de Leeuw, conductor
  • 03 JUL 2003
    L' heure bleue Country Premiere
    The New Auditorium, Rome
    Orchestra Regionale della Toscana
  • 24 JUN 2003
    Schönberg, Germany
    Lübecker Bläserensemble
    Dr Matthias Rohn, conductor
  • 02 FEB 2003
    L' heure bleue Country Premiere
    Appearances World Premiere
    Festival Présence
    Ensemble InterContemporain
    Stefan Asbury, conductor
  • 26 OCT 2002
    L' heure bleue Country Premiere
    Royal Danish Library Concert Hall, Copenhagen, Denmark
    Athelas Sinfonietta
    Reinbert de Leeuw, conductor
  • 14 FEB 2002
    L' heure bleue US Premiere
    Boston, MA
    New England Conservatory Wind Ensemble
    Charles Peltz, conductor
  • 27 OCT 2001
    Hans Werner Henze 75. Geburtstag
    Philharmonie Berlin, Germany
    Ensemble des Berliner Philharmonischen Orchesters und Gäste
    Rolf Gupta, conductor
  • 16 OCT 2001
    L' heure bleue Country Premiere
    Klangspuren Schwaz
    Schwaz, Austria
    Ensemble Modern
    Oliver Knussen, conductor
  • 12 OCT 2001
    L' heure bleue UK Premiere
    Queen Elizabeth Hall
    London Sinfonietta
    Oliver Knussen, conductor

    Other Dates:
    15 October - Queen Elizabeth Hall
  • 29 SEP 2001
    L' heure bleue Country Premiere
    Concertgebouw, Amsterdam, Netherlands
    Nederlands Kemerorkest
    Peter Eötvös, conductor
  • 13 SEP 2001
    L' heure bleue World Premiere
    Auftakt 2001
    Frankfurt/Main, Germany
    Ensemble Modern
    Oliver Knussen, conductor

    Other Dates:
    15 September - Hamburg - Musikfest Hamburg, Germany
    16 September - Klangspuren Schwaz - Schwaz, Austria

The blue hour of the title alludes to dusk in the Mediterranean, the time when, for the composer, the world, its inhabitants and their inner lives are transformed by the gentlest evening light. The instruments chosen by Henze to evoke this mood of reverie include the mello ones of alto flute, cor anglais, bass clarinet and Wagner tuba, and gorgeously atmospheric it all sounded in this accomplished performance
Barry Millington, The Times,16/10/2001
Hans Werner Henze…demonstrated once again his skills as an orchestrator… L’Heure Bleue, receiving its premiere, was a…relaxed serenade, opening with tasteful tuned gongs, and featuring long melodic lines and the occasional flirtation with tonal implications.
Laurence Hughes, The Independent,14/10/2001
Close X

Newsletter Signup

Enter your email address to keep up to date with the latest news and special offers from Music Sales Classical.
Your data is secure and you can unsubscribe at any time. Read our Privacy Policy

Click here to receive regular news
© Copyright 2018 Music Sales Classical. Part of the Music Sales Group.