Boris Blacher


At a time when the increasingly “Aryanised” German music scene was no longer overly blessed with talented young composers, a 34-year-old graduate of the Berlin Academy of Music unexpectedly made headlines: On 6 December 1937, Carl Schuricht premiered the [Concertante Musik] by the completely unknown Boris Blacher at a Berliner Philharmoniker special concert – twice, because there were some tonal inconsistencies in the first performance. It was reported in the newspapers that the piece had to be repeated due to its immense success, which was tantamount to a sensation: a highly welcome misunderstanding for the young composer.

Boris Blacher was born in Nchuang, China, in 1903 and spent his youth on the Yellow Sea, where he worked as a lighting technician at the Irkutsk Opera House, and in Charbin, Manchuria. As the son of a bank director from the Baltic city of Tallinn, Blacher frequently changed his place of residence, so he attended English, German, Italian and Russian schools – he naturally also spoke the Chinese of the employees who worked for his parents. In 1922, Blacher moved to Berlin, where he began studying architecture and mathematics at the wish of his father. However, his true passion was and remained music – even as a teenager he had received lessons in violin playing, music theory and harmony. Blacher studied composition under Friedrich Ernst Koch and musicology under Friedrich Blume, Arnold Schering and Moritz von Hornbostel. Until he had his breakthrough with the aforementioned première of [Concertante Musik], he made his living by arranging dance music. Blacher’s music was not heard again in public concerts until the autumn of 1945, the “zero hour”. He became director of the Berlin Hochschule für Musik and, in addition to teaching in Salzburg and Tanglewood, was head of the electronic studio at the Technische Universität Berlin. In 1956, Blacher was appointed vice president and twelve years later president of the Akademie der Künste – as successor to Hans Scharoun, whose Philharmonie design he had championed as a juror at the time. When Blacher died in Berlin two weeks after his 72nd birthday, he was one of the most respected figures in public life.


Help Contact
How to watch Newsletter Institutional Access Access Vouchers
Legal notice Terms of use Privacy Policy