Georg Katzer

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Georg Katzer (2006)

Georg Katzer (* 10 January 1935 in Habelschwerdt, Silesia; † 7 May 2019 in Zeuthen near Berlin[1][2]) was a German composer. He was one of the pioneers of electronic new music in the GDR.


Katzer was born in 1935 as the son of a confectioner in Lower Silesia. He passed his Abitur at the boarding school Schloss Wendgräben. He studied piano, music theory and composition with Rudolf Wagner-Régeny and Ruth Zechlin at the East Berlin Hochschule für Musik between 1953 and 1959. From 1957 to 1958 he studied with Karel Janáček at the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague. From 1961 to 1963 he was a master student of Hanns Eisler, Ruth Zechlin and Leo Spies at the German Academy of the Arts in Berlin.

Since 1963 he was a freelance composer and musician in Berlin. From 1966 to 1967 he was music dramaturge at the Erich Weinert Ensemble of the NVA of the GDR. He worked with artists such as Johannes “Hannes” Bauer, Wolfgang Fuchs, Paul Lytton, Phil Minton, Ernst-Ludwig Petrowsky, Radu Malfatti, Phil Wachsmann and the Bläservereinigung Berlin.

In 1976 he stayed at the Studio for Electronic Music in Bratislava and in 1977 in Bourges/France. In 1978 he was elected a member of the Akademie der Künste in East Berlin. In 1982 he founded the Studio for Electroacoustic Music affiliated to the Music Department of the Academy of Arts, of which he was artistic director until 2005.

In 1986 he was a visiting professor at Michigan State University. In 1987 he was appointed professor and subsequently taught a master class in composition at the Akademie der Künste. He was a member of the Akademie der Künste Berlin-Brandenburg, the Freie Akademie der Künste zu Leipzig and the Academy of Electroacoustic Music in Bourges, France.

Until 1989 he was vice president of the Association of Composers and Musicologists of the GDR. From 1988 to 1991 he was president of the German section of the C.I.M.E. (International Association for Electroacoustic Music), in 1990 president of the Music Council of the GDR and from 1990 to 2001 member of the presidium of the German Music Council. He was also a founding and, since 2009, honorary member of the German Society for Electroacoustic Music.

Katzer’s compositions include works for chamber ensembles, orchestral works, solo concertos, operas, ballets, puppet shows and oratorical works. His oeuvre also includes electroacoustic pieces, radio play music, multimedia projects and improvised music projects. New compositions are published by Edition Gravis.

Katzer lived in Zeuthen near Berlin until his death. He died in May 2019 at the age of 84.

Works (selection)

  • Construction set for orchestra, 1972.
  • Die Igeltreppe for narrator and 13 instruments. Text: Sarah Kirsch, 1973.
  • The Land of Bum-Bum. Opera, 1973.
  • D-Major Music Machine. Orchestral work, 1973.
  • Black Birds. Ballet, 1975.
  • Scene for chamber ensemble. Instrumental theatre, 1975.
  • A New Midsummer Night’s Dream. Ballet, 1979.
  • Gastmahl oder über die Liebe. Opera, libretto: Gerhard Müller, 1987.
  • Antigone or the City. Opera, libretto: Gerhard Müller, 1989.
  • My 1989. Radio composition, 1990.
  • L’homme machine. multimedia scenic action, 2000.
  • Medea in Corinth. Oratorical scenes, libretto: Christa Wolf (after Medea: Voices). World premiere 6 September 2002, Konzerthaus Berlin.
  • String quartets: No. 1 (1965), No. 3 (1987) and No. 4 tempi fragili (2004) – first recording in 2010 by the Sonar Quartet Berlin.

Radio plays (selection)

  • 1963: Anna Elisabeth Wiede: The beast of Samarkand – Director: Flora Hoffmann (Children’s radio play – Radio of the GDR)
  • 1964: Oswaldo Ramos: Dorina and my Ocarina – Director: Maritta Hübner (Original radio play, children’s radio play, short radio play – Rundfunk der DDR)
  • 1971: Hans-Jörg Dost: Passio Camilo – Director: Barbara Plensat/Detlef Kurzweg (Radio play – Radio of the GDR)
  • 1972: William Shakespeare: Pericles – Director: Uwe Haacke (radio play – Rundfunk der DDR)
  • 1972: Heinrich von Kleist: Amphitryon – Director: Werner Grunow (Radio play – Rundfunk der DDR)
  • 1973: Francoise Xenakis: On the island she wanted to tell him… – Director: Fritz Göhler (radio play – Rundfunk der DDR)
  • 1973: Lia Pirskawetz: Spider-Palaver – Director: Barbara Plensat (Radio play – Radio of the GDR)
  • 1975: Jean Pélégri: The Outcry – Director: Fritz Göhler (radio play – Rundfunk der DDR)
  • 1982: Walentin Rasputin: Matjora – Director: Fritz Göhler (radio play – Rundfunk der DDR)
  • 1986: Călin Gruia: The Fairy Tale of King Florin – Director: Norbert Speer (radio play adaptation, children’s radio play – Rundfunk der DDR)
  • 1990: Arthur Rimbaud: I am someone else

Commissioned works

Katzer composed the following works commissioned by the Bläservereinigung Berlin:

  • Concerto for harpsichord and wind quintet, “Coming and Going
  • “La Mettrie or Notes on the Machine-Man”
  • “La Mettrie, or Note on the Plant-Man.”
  • “Il re pastore” based on texts by Frederick II.

Film score

  • 1962: Joseph and all his brothers (TV movie)
  • 1963: In love and with a criminal record
  • 1964: Lütt Matten and the white shell
  • 1965: Angel in Purgatory
  • 1965: Berlin around the corner
  • 1965: Karla
  • 1967: Stories of that night (Episode 1)
  • 1968: Life for two
  • 1982: Stella (television film)
  • 1985: Half of life
  • 1988: Melanio’s Last Love
  • 1989: The Man at the Ramp


  • 1964/65 Mendelssohn scholarship
  • 1975 1st prize in a drama competition for children’s and youth theatre
  • 1976 Art Prize of the GDR
  • 1977 Prize at the competition for electroacoustic music of the Groupe de musique expérimentale de Bourges, France
  • 1978 Reine Marie José Prize, Geneva
  • 1981 National Prize of the GDR for Art and Literature III. class (for complete compositional work)
  • 1985 Prize at the competition for electroacoustic music of the Groupe de musique expérimentale de Bourges, France
  • 1987 Art Award of the FDGB for Music[3]
  • 1992 Guest of Honour of the German Academy Rome Villa Massimo
  • 1992 Cultural Award Silesia of the State of Lower Saxony
  • 1998 Johann Wenzel Stamitz Prize
  • 1999 Music Prize of the State of Brandenburg
  • 2003 Federal Cross of Merit 1st class
  • 2011 German Record Critics’ Award (Best List 1/2011)[4]
  • 2012 German Music Authors Award for composition of experimental music/music with live electronics
  • 2015 Honorary member of the Leibniz-Sozietät der Wissenschaften zu Berlin.


  • Gerd Belkius: Georg Katzer. In: Dietrich Brennecke, Hannelore Gerlach, Mathias Hansen (eds.): Musiker in unserer Zeit. Members of the Music Section of the Academy of Arts of the GDR. Deutscher Verlag für Musik, Leipzig 1979, p. 300 ff.
  • Katzer, Prof. Georg. In: Wilfried W. Bruchhäuser: Komponisten der Gegenwart im Deutschen Komponisten-Interessenverband. A Handbook. 4. Auflage, Deutscher Komponisten-Interessenverband, Berlin 1995, ISBN 3-555-61410-X, p. 621.
  • Georg Katzer. In: Sigrid Neef (with Hermann Neef): Deutsche Oper im 20. Jahrhundert. DDR 1949-1989. Lang, Berlin 1992, ISBN 3-86032-011-4, p. 247 ff.
  • Christiane Niklew:Katzer, Georg. In: Who was who in the GDR? 5th edition. Vol. 1. Ch. Links, Berlin 2010, ISBN 978-3-86153-561-4.
  • Jutta Raab: Georg Katzer. In: Komponisten der Gegenwart (KDG). Edition Text & Kritik, Munich 1996, ISBN 978-3-86916-164-8.
  • Katzer, Georg. In: Brockhaus-Riemann Music Encyclopedia. CD-Rom, Directmedia Publishing, Berlin 2004, ISBN 3-89853-438-3, pp. 13021 f.
  • Antje Hinz: Zum Problem der Akustischen Kunst am Beispiel der Hörstücke Georg Katzers. Master’s thesis in musicology (unpublished), Hamburg 1995.

Web links

Commons: Georg Katzer– Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual references

  1. Peter Uehling, Obituary of Georg Katzer, in: Berliner Zeitung, 8 May 2019
  2. Frederik Hanssen, On the death of the composer Georg Katzer, in: Der Tagesspiegel, 7 May 2019
  3. Academy for Social Sciences at the Central Committee of the SED, Institute for Marxist-Leninist Cultural and Art Studies (ed.), authors’ collective under the direction of Erika Tschernig: Unsere Kultur: DDR-Zeittafel, 1945-1987. Dietz, Berlin 1989, ISBN 3-320-01132-4, p. 424.
  4. Best list 1-2011. PdSK, February 15, 2011, retrieved September 30, 2011.