Bernhard Böttner

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Bernhard Böttner (* 13 February 1924 in Schmalkalden; † 12 August 2013 in Sommerhausen) was a German concert pianist, conductor, festival director and piano teacher.


Böttner grew up in Meiningen. There he became a private pupil of the composer Günter Raphael, during his ostracism in the Third Reich.[1] He studied conducting in Leipzig with Hermann Abendroth and Johann Nepomuk David, and piano with Sigfrid Grundeis. For a time he was a répétiteur in Mary Wigman’s dance department in Leipzig.

This was followed by conducting engagements at the Katovice State Opera, in Meiningen and Weimar. Böttner made his solo debut in 1947 under Joseph Keilberth with the Dresden Staatskapelle. He performed with conductors such as Franz Konwitschny, Dimitri Mitropoulos, Hans Rosbaud and Hermann Scherchen.

Until 1964 Böttner lived in Berlin, since then in Sommerhausen and Prague. He repeatedly performed with the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, the Munich Philharmonic Orchestra, the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra and German state and radio symphony orchestras. Foreign tours have taken him throughout Europe, including tours of Russia. He was a member of the piano ensemble of the Berlin Philharmonic Octet and the Prague Dvořák Quartet.

In 1969 Böttner was appointed professor of piano and eventually director of the music teachers’ seminar at the Nuremberg Meistersinger Conservatory. He held these posts until his retirement, during which time he reestablished the subjects of music physiology and the methodology of piano technique.[2] Bernhard Böttner also directed the Institute for Pianistic Diagnostics in the Tonkünstler-Bezirksverband Mittelfranken e. V. (based in Nuremberg), which set itself the task of advising on individual piano-technical problems. This included method-independent technical playing diagnoses, written expert opinions, aptitude tests and a topic that Böttner was always concerned with, playing damage therapy, which was carried out in collaboration with medical doctors and psychologists.


After the Second World War, Böttner championed works by composers who had been ostracized during the Third Reich. These included works by Karl Amadeus Hartmann, Paul Hindemith, Arthur Honegger, Günter Raphael, Aram Khachaturian and Igor Stravinsky. He also focused on the performance of works by Russian and Slavic composers (including Pavel Bořkovec and Artur Malawski).

Böttner played the representative international premiere performance of Karl Amadeus Hartmann’s KZ Sonata 27 April 1945 at the 3rd World Music Festival in Leningrad in 1988.[3][4]

In 1964 Böttner initiated the music festival Recital Sommerhausen/Marktbreit (until 1982 as the German Soloists’ Festival) under the patronage of Henryk Szeryng, Emil Gilels, Pierre Fournier and Maurizio Pollini.[5][6]

As a researcher and pedagogue, he developed the first physiologically validated universal touch theory in the field ofpianistic playing technique(The Pianistic Universal Technique) as well as the Great Genealogy of Pianism (an international family tree of teacher-pupil development, the development of piano construction, playing methods and the concert business).

Honours and miscellaneous

Bernhard Böttner received the Federal Cross of Merit on Ribbon in 2005 for his life’s work.[7]

Since 2014, his artistic, pedagogical and scientific estate has been housed in the Bernhard Böttner Archive in Fürth.[8] Among them is his extensive correspondence with Günter Raphael, Mary Wigman, Hermann Abendroth, Arnold Schönberg, Karl Amadeus Hartmann, Aram Chatschaturjan, Dimitri Mitropoulos, Artur Malawski, Henryk Szeryng, Herbert von Karajan, Emil Gilels, Pierre Fournier, Alfred Brendel, Theodor W. Adorno and Vladimir Ashkenazy.


  • Bibliography on the methodology of piano technique. Sommerhausen 1985.
  • The pianistic universal technique. Sommerhausen 1982.
  • The pianistic universal technique. Publication extract II, course materials, fundamentals and conception. 3. Edition. Sommerhausen 1995.
  • The Great Genealogy of Pianism. Sommerhausen 1997.
  • Old and new truths about tone formation on the piano. Their physical and physiological foundations and the consequences for piano pedagogy that have been overdue for 50 years. A contribution to the didactics of universal technique. In: ZfMP (= Journal for Music Pedagogy). Gustav Bosse Publishing House, Regensburg. 10. Jahrgang, Heft 29, März 1985, ISSN 0341-2830. pp. 45-69.
  • Habituation of artistic movements. Prerequisite for ensuring optimal piano technique. In: Practicing and Making Music. Schott Verlag, Mainz, 2nd volume, issue 5, October 1985. pp. 354-360.
  • 9 Thesen zur Evolutionstheorie der Universaltechnik auf der Grundlage einer methodenintegrierenden Definition und Systematik der Anschlagsarten und ihre Konsequenzen für die moderne Klavierpädagogik. In: Dokumentation 1982 zum EPTA-Kongress (= European Piano Teachers’ Association), Saarbrücken, Hochschule für Musik 1982.
  • Basic deficiencies of present piano pedagogy in the technical field. In: Practicing and Making Music. Schott Verlag Mainz, 7th volume, issue 2, 1990. pp. 80-87.


  • Thomas Schinköth: Music – the end of all illusions? Günter Raphael in the Nazi State, von Bockel, Neumünster 1996.
  • Raphael Woebs: Political Theory in New Music. Karl Amadeus Hartmann und Hannah Arendt, Fink Verlag, Munich 2010.
  • Raphael Woebs: “Das Musikleben ins Ländliche tragen”. On the death of the pianist, festival director, pedagogue and musicologist Bernhard Böttner, in: neue musikzeitung 11/13, p. 50.

Web links

Individual references

  1. Thomas Schinköth: Music – the end of all illusions? Günter Raphael in the Nazi State, von Bockel, Neumünster 1996
  2. Raphael Woebs: “Carrying Musical Life into the Rural”. On the death of the pianist, festival director, pedagogue and musicologist Bernhard Böttner, in: neue musikzeitung 11/13, p. 50.
  3. Sonata on the Holocaust Der Spiegel 24/1988
  4. Cf. Raphael Woebs: Die Politische Theorie in der Neuen Musik. Karl Amadeus Hartmann und Hannah Arendt, Fink Verlag, Munich 2010.
  5. Cf. Kleinod versaut, in: Der Spiegel 25/1974
  6. Cf. Neuer Halt, in: Der Spiegel 31/1968

  7. Press Archive 2005.(PDF; 3.1 MB) Government of Lower Franconia – Bavaria, 30 December 2005, p. 196, retrieved 24September 2014.
  8. Bernhard Böttner Archive, Fürth/Bay.