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Werner Burkhardt (Choral Conductor)

Born: 1921 - Leipzig, Germany
Died: August 2001 - Braunschweig (Brunswick), Germany

The German choral conductor and church musician, Werner Burkhardt, received his musical training in his hometown Leipzig.

After World War II, Werner Burkhardt became Kantor at the Neustädter St. Johanniskirche in Hannover. Here he founded 1952 the Kantorei and a little later, the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde (Society of Friends of Music). With the choir of St. Johannis he conducted the major choral works by J.S. Bach: Weihnachts-Oratorium (BWV 248), Johannes-Passion (BWV 245) and Matthäus-Passion (BWV 244), but was also devoted already in the first years of his work to contemporary music. Studies of the works of Felix Mendelssohn in Leipzig, then brought Burkhardt to reveal the missing works: he discovered in a Leipziger Notenarchiv the Te Deum by F. Mendelssohn and gave the work later in his Braunschweig time its premiere performance.

In 1968, Werner Burkhardt became Kantor and Church Music Director (KMD) at St. Martini in Braunschweig. He founded here in 1972 the Choir of St. Martini, later, the Jugendchor (young choir) and the Gesellschaft der Freunde an St. Martini (Society of Friends of St. Martini). He led the " Sonnabendmusiken" (Saturday Music) and undertook with his choir tours abroad, most often to Sweden. The Te Deum by F. Mendelssohn he rediscovered is now with the Choir of St. Martini. In addition to the traditional sacred works, Burkhardt was devoted further to contemporary works, giving premiere performances of Theatralischen Messe by Dieter Salbert and the Requiem by Manfred Trojahn.

New apect of the church music at St. Martini that Werner Burkhardt brought was the theatrical performances at the Kaiserdom of Königslutter. Burkhardt launched the Summer Festival in Königslutter and in 1983 he conducted the Singspiel which Mozart had written at age 10 Die Schuldigkeit des Ersten Gebots; 1987 followed with the dramatic realization of F. Mendelssohnn's Elijah.

With J.S. Bach's Mass in B minor (BWV 232) Werner Burkhardt concluded in 1986 his post as Kantor at St. Martini. He now assumed a teaching post for choral conducting at the Universität Braunschweig (University of Brunswick). In 1994 he discovered during his many musical tours through Europe a precious organ in the small town of the former GDR. Through tireless search for sponsorship funds, he fully restored again this organ.

Since February 2001, a new chamber music series arose in Braunschweig, based on Werner Burkhardt initiative: "Musik und Literatur" is a series of Braunschweig's "Dornse" bring together together the music - mostly string quartets - and literary texts according to certain themes. The first four concerts were held in spring 2001.

Shortly after his birthday Werner Burkhardt died in August 2001 at the age of 80 years.

Comment: There is another Werner Burkhardt (1928-2008), who was a German Jazz journalist, and music and theater critic.


Source: Werner Burkhardt Website, English translation by Aryeh Oron (April 2009)
Contributed by
Aryeh Oron (April 2009)

Werner Burkhardt: Short Biography | Recordings of Vocal Works

Links to other Sites

Werner Burkhardt (Official Website) [German]


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