Hermann Scherchen

Hermann Scherchen (1891-1966). His talent and his love for music appear from his earliest youth. He starts musical education at the Musikhochschule in Berlin, and in 1907 he starts playing the alto in the Blüthner orchestra and, later, with the Berlin Philharmonic and the Krolloper. On the other hand, he learns his métier of orchestral conductor as an autodidact. After World War I he conducts two workers’ choruses, creates the Scherchen string quartet and the contemporary music journal Melos. In 1933, he leaves Germany in disagreement with the National Socialism. In Winterthur he takes up the direction of the Musikkollegium orchestrawhich is supported by its sponsor Werner Reinhart, and makes it famous throughout Europe. In 1923, he commits himself in favor of the Internationale Gesellschaft für neue Musik  (IGNM). In Brussels, he sets up his own musical publishing company Ars Viva and – besides publishing works badly known or totally unknown works of the past – he also dedicates himself to modern composers such as K.A. Hartmann and Wladimir Vogel. In 1937 he settles down in Switzerland. After World War II, Scherchen acts between 1945 and 1950 as musical director of the Zurich Radio (then renamed as Radio Beromünster). From 1950 onwards he works with the summer courses in Darmstadt (Ferienkurse für Neue Musik). In 1954, he settles down in Gravesano, where he builds his electroacoustic studio and organizes a series of congresses. The Studio of Gravesano becomes a sort of must-see destination for young composers (Ussachevski, Luc Ferrari, F.B. Mâche, Yannis Xenakis). He finally publishes a quarterly review of music, the so-called Gravesaner Blätter in which he publishes the results and reviews of these research studies. Scherchen always has been an undaunted champion of modern music, and he conducts a great number of first performances (A. Schönberg, P. Hindemith, A. Webern, E. Krenek, E. Varèse, L. Nono, L. Dallapiccola, P. Dessau, B. Blacher, H.W. Henze, A. Haba, A. Roussel, K. Stockhausen, I. Xenakis, et al.). During the première of Malipiero’s Orfeide that he conducts in Florence in June 1966, he faints; and on June 12, 1966, he dies of a heart attack. He is buried in Gravesano beside his last wife Pia Andronescu, who joined him not even two years later. 

Gravesaner Blätter, Heft 9, III. Jahrgang, 1957
Hermann Scherchen, Tel Aviv, 1939