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Biography of

Hugo Distler

24 jun 1908 (Nuernberg) - 1 nov 1942 (Berlin)
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Hugo Distler on a German stamp, in 1992.

Hugo Distler (June 24, 1908 – November 1, 1942) was a German composer.

Born in Nuremberg, he is known mostly for his sacred choral music. He attended Leipzig Conservatory first as a conducting student with piano as his secondary subject, but changing later, on the advice of his teacher, to composition and organ. He became organist at St. Jacobi in Lübeck in 1931. In 1933 he married Waltraut Thienhaus. That same year he joined the NSDAP: reluctantly, but his continued employment depended on his doing so. Distler also taught at the School for Church Music in Spandau, and became a professor of church music in Berlin in 1940.

Becoming increasingly depressed from the death of friends, aerial attacks, job pressures, and the constant threat of conscription into the German army, he committed suicide in Berlin at the age of 34.[1] He chose to end his life by his own hand (with fumes from his own gas oven) rather than be conscripted into the Wehrmacht.

His work is polyphonic and frequently melismatic, often based on the pentatonic scale. Because of these characteristics, his work was stigmatized by some Nazis as "degenerate art." Distler enjoyed his first success in 1935 at the official Kassel Music Days (Kasseler Musiktage).



  • Hugo Distler: Funktionelle Harmonielehre. Kassel 1940.
  • Wolfgang Jennrich: Hugo Distler. Berlin 1970.
  • Ursula Herrmann: Hugo Distler. Rufer und Mahner. Berlin 1972.
  • Ursula v. Rauchhaupt: Die vokale Kirchenmusik Hugo Distlers. Eine Studie zum Thema „Musik und Gottesdienst“. Gütersloh 1963.
  • Alexander L. Suder (Hgrs.): Hugo Distler. In: Komponisten in Bayern. Band 20. Tutzing 1990.
  • Casper Honders: In der Welt habt ihr Angst. In: Dietrich Schuberth (Hrsg.): Kirchenmusik im Nationalsozialismus. Kassel 1995, S. 144-153.
  • Dirk Lemmermann: Studien zum weltlichen Vokalwerk Hugo Distlers. Analytische, ästhetische und rezeptionsgeschichtliche Untersuchungen unter besonderer Berücksichtigung des Mörike-Chorliederbuches. Frankfurt am Main 1996.
  • Stefan Hanheide (Hrsg.): Hugo Distler im Dritten Reich. Osnabrück 1997.
  • Bettina Schlüter: Hugo Distler. Musikwissenschaftliche Untersuchungen in systemtheoretischer Perspektivierung. Elektronische Ressource CD-ROM. Stuttgart 2000.
  • Winfried Lüdemann: Hugo Distler. Eine musikalische Biographie. Augsburg 2002.
  • Barbara Distler-Harth: Hugo Distler. Lebensweg eines Frühvollendeten. Schott Music. Mainz 2008.


  • Opus 1 - Konzertante Sonate für 2 Klaviere
  • Opus 2 - Choralmotette "Herzlich lieb hab’ ich dich, o Herr"
  • Opus 3 - Eine deutsche Choralmesse
  • Opus 4 - Kleine Adventsmusik
  • Opus 5 - Der Jahrkreis
  • Opus 6/I - Kleine Geistliche Abendmusik
  • Opus 6/II - Drei kleine Choralmotetten:
  • Opus 7 - Choralpassion
  • Opus 8/I - Orgelpartita "Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland"
  • Opus 8/II - Orgelpartita "Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme"
  • Opus 8/III - Kleine Orgelchoral-Bearbeitungen
  • Opus 9/I - Das Lied von der Glocke
  • Opus 9/II - An die Natur (Weltliche Kantate)
  • Opus 10 - Die Weihnachtsgeschichte
  • Opus 11/I - Wo Gott zum Haus nit gibt sein Gunst
  • Opus 11/II - Nun danket all und bringet Ehr
  • Opus 12 - Geistliche Chormusik:
  • Opus 13 - Liturgische Sätze über altevangelische Kyrie- und Gloriaweisen
  • Opus 14 - Konzert für Cembalo und Streichorchester
  • Opus 15a - Sonate für zwei Geigen und Klavier
  • Opus 15b - Elf kleine Klavierstücke für die Jugend
  • Opus 16 - Neues Chorliederbuch:
  • Opus 17 - Drei geistliche Konzerte für Sopran und Orgel
  • Opus 18/I - Dreissig Spielstücke für die Kleinorgel
  • Opus 18/II - Orgelsonate (Trio)
  • Opus 19 - Mörike-Chorliederbuch
  • Opus 20/I - Streichquartett a-moll
  • Opus 20/II - Konzerstück für 2 Klaviere
  • Opus 21/I - Lied am Herde (Kantate, Gedicht von Fritz Dietrich)
  • Opus 21/II - Kleinge Sing- und Spielmusik


  1. ^ Bonhoeffer, Dietrich. Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works. 16. Fortress Books. p. 371. ISBN 9780800683160. Retrieved July 8, 2009. 

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This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Hugo Distler. Allthough most Wikipedia articles provide accurate information accuracy can not be guaranteed.
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