Born: March 13, 1921 - Landshut, Bavaria, Germany
Died: June 2, 2000 - Munich, Germany
The German composer, Heinz Benker, received instruction in violin from age 7. At age 9 he he discovered the concert flute concerto by himself. At the age of 10 he began playing the piano and organ, cello and double bass to follow. The first attempts at composition were at age 12 with Domkapellmeister Franz Hofer. After graduation in 1940 in Freising, he went into the labor service on the Rhine, then in the military service in the Afrika Korps (1941-1943) and became a prisoner of war in Africa and America (founder and director of a menís choir, the prisoners' orchestra in Louisiana, and a jazz band).
After returning to Germany in August 1945, Heinz Benker began his studies at the Kirchenmusikschule in the University of Regensburg (1947/1948) and graduated from the Hochschule für Musik in Munich, where he studied from 1948 to 1951 piano, music education and composition with Wolfgang Jacobi. In October 1951 he married the writer Gertrud Benker, with whom he had two daughters.
From 1952 to 1964 Heinz Benker worked as a school musician in Regensburg, and later as a music seminar director in Munich. He was honorary chairman of the Verbandes Bayerischer Schulmusiker (Association of Bavarian School Musicians), and founding board member until 1991 in the Bayerischen Musikrat (Bavarian Music Council). He was also author of several music education journals, and author and presenter of music education television series.
Heinz Benkerís works include about 250 sacred and secular choral works, orchestral works and concertos, chamber music for various ensembles, brass and wind music, organ and piano works, Lieder and incidental music. Some works were published by Zupfmusik. The estate is in the Deutschen Komponistenarchiv at the European Centre for the Arts Hellerau.
His awards include: Bavarian Culture Prize (1964); Prize of the German Composers Competition of the Landesverbandes Deutscher Liebhaberorchester (1980); Composition Prize of the Landkreises Uelzen (1983); Federal Cross of Merit (1983); Composition Prize of the Schwäbisch-Bayerischen Musikbundes.