ARCHIVE – Siegfried Matthus died on August 27th, 2021 after a long illness at the age of 87 in Stolzenhagen in Brandenburg. Photo: Jens Kalaene / dpa-Zentralbild / dpa
Even in the GDR era, Matthus gained great international recognition. In 1979 the Dresden Staatskapelle performed his work “Responso” in front of the United Nations in New York.
Mattus died at the age of 87 on Friday after a long and serious illness in the presence of his wife Helga in his home in Stolzenhagen near Berlin, as the Freundeskreis Kammeroper Schloss Rheinsberg announced on Monday on behalf of the family. The portal “Tag24” had previously reported on the artist’s death.
We owe more than 600 compositions to Matthus. His oeuvre includes 14 operas, over 60 large orchestral works, numerous chamber music, ballet scenes and film music. At the age of 27 he wrote his first opera.
Matthus was born on April 13, 1934 in the former East Prussia. After fleeing and being expelled, he lived in Brandenburg and Berlin. He studied at the Berlin Conservatory, where he was a master student with Hanns Eisler. In 1964 he came to the Komische Oper Berlin, where he worked with Götz Friedrich and Harry Kupfer.
The Dresden Semperoper was reopened in 1985 with the opera “Die Weise von Liebe und Tod des Cornets Christoph Rilke”. After its world premiere in 1985, his opera “Judith” was performed more than 20 times at the Komische Oper Berlin.
He had a close relationship with Rheinsberg, where he graduated from high school in 1952. After the fall of the Wall and the reunification of East and West Germany, his vision was to revive the place of the muses, which was once created in the palace by the Prussian princes Heinrich and Friedrich. Every year young singers from all over the world apply for participation in the Chamber Opera. Later on, their careers often lead them to international opera houses.
During the years at the chamber opera, Matthus also created other operas himself. These include “Kronprinz Friedrich” and “Effi Briest”, which premiered in 2019 at the Cottbus State Theater. For the inauguration of the Dresden Frauenkirche in 2005 he composed the “Te Deum”. “My role models were the musical dramaturgical system of the Verdian Requiem and the processing of contemporary documents in Britten’s ‘War Requiem'”, he wrote in the foreword.
Matthus was a member of the Berlin Academy of the Arts and the Bavarian Academy of Fine Arts. He was honored as an honorary citizen of the city of Rheinsberg and received the Federal Cross of Merit 1st Class in 2005 and the Great Cross of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany in 2015. The Association of German Critics honored the composer with a prize in 1998 and emphasized that he succeeded in the feat of accommodating common listening habits without falling into compromise or cliché.
The Freundeskreis Kammeroper Rheinsberg is certain that its music will live on. “Through the musicians and singers who interpret them joyfully, through the listeners whose hearts they reach,” said the composer when he said goodbye.