Introduction to the correspondence of Hans Werner Henze with Hans Magnus Enzensberger

“Wir müssen direkt aufpassen daß wir nicht in die Musikgeschichte eingehen. Ich möchte nämlich nicht eingehen.” (HME)

The Hans Werner Henze (1926-2012) and Hans Magnus Enzensberger (1929-2022) Correspondence

Basic information about the correspondence

The correspondence between Hans Werner Henze and Hans Magnus Enzensberger comprises 95 postal documents, of which Henze wrote 58 and Enzensberger 39, three were developed out of the correspondence and one was written jointly with others. In addition, 9 documents directly related to the correspondence have survived. The correspondence consists of letters, letter cards, postcards and telegrams from the years 1960 to 1988, with an emphasis on the period 1967 to 1975. Henze and Enzensberger wrote to each other in German, although their letters are interspersed with numerous passages in other languages (English, Italian, Spanish, French, Latin). Henze’s letters are preserved as part of the Hans Magnus Enzensberger estate in the German Literature Archive in Marbach, Enzensberger’s in the Hans Werner Henze Collection in the Paul Sacher Foundation in Basel.

Writing characteristics of the correspondence partners

In their correspondence, both authors switch from ‘normal’ upper and lower case to lower case throughout (even after endings of sentences) and to ‘English’ upper and lower case, in which names and places are capitalised, although there is no clear chronological development.

Enzensberger: Hans Magnus Enzensberger mainly uses a typewriter for his correspondence and then only inserts the signature and, if necessary, the date, as well as occasional corrections or additions by hand. He writes letters and postcards by hand. His handwriting is quite large, soft and without large descenders or ascenders.

Special features:

  • The shape of the number 4 is like a printed 4 and can therefore occasionally be mistaken for a 9 in his handwriting.
  • Dots in dates and after other numerals are often in the middle rather than at the bottom.
  • The closing “dein mang” (your mang) [Note: Mang is Hans Magnus Enzensberger’s nickname] is often abbreviated to “deinm”, with the ‘m’ directly following the word ‘dein’. The short form ‘mang’ is often reduced in writing to ‘mng’ or even to ‘m’.

Henze: Hans Werner Henze almost exclusively wrote his letters by hand, as typewriters and their noise disturbed him 1, but typewritten letters - mostly of an official nature - have also come down to us from him. In the period of correspondence with Enzensberger, Henze’s typeface is almost similar to a printed script: many letters stand alone. The typeface itself is quite small, but the spaces between the words are large.

Collaborative projects and works that are mentioned in more greater detail in the correspondence

(The brackets denote the duration of the correspondence on this subject)

In-person meetings resulting from the correspondence

In regard to how Henze and Enzensberger first became acquainted, cf. the introduction to the section ’On some of the topics of conversation’. Concrete meetings cannot be documented from this information. In the letter dated 26 September 1972 (first P.S.) Henze retrospectively mentions a visit by Enzensberger to Naples at the end of 1958. In addition, in one of the first letters (dated 11 October 1967) there is an unverifiable reference to a possible meeting in New York at the end of November 1967. The following personal meetings can be documented:

The meetings mentioned in later letters could not be verified. Other encounters are possible, e.g. at the performance of “La Cubana” in Wuppertal (1976) (cf. autobiography p. 367) or during Henze’s stays in Munich, especially during his work there on the occasion of the Munich Biennale 1988-1996.

General notes on the correspondence

The beginning of the intensive exchange between Henze and Enzensberger is based on their meeting in the context of the so-called student movement in Berlin from 1967 onwards. It was, therefore, politically determined from the outset, with less concern for concrete political demands than for the general challenges to their own lives and above all to their own art. In this context, their early letters clearly reveal that Enzensberger, although the younger, was more of an advisor to Henze within the framework of the “movement”, as they themselves and others repeatedly refer to this political environment, and that he saw himself very much as a learner, especially in the beginning.

Immediately after the beginning of their close contact, Henze began to think about the position of art in the “movement” and about joint work and collaboration, which then formed the focus of their correspondence. This involved questions of content, but also performance planning and contractual agreements. From the beginning, this “working” correspondence was on an equal footing and characterised by respect for each other’s achievements. Enzensberger acknowledged Henze’s greater stage experience without discussion.

Their regular correspondence ended at the beginning of 1976 and was followed, for the most part, short letters and greetings until the end of the 1980s, in which they lamented the fact that they no longer meet in person.

Both correspondence partners later wrote about the period at the centre of this correspondence, i.e. the time of the “movement” and the stay(s) in Cuba, in their autobiographical writings (Enzensberger, Hans Magnus: Tumult,, Berlin 2014, in particular: “Erinnerungen an einen Tumult (1967-1970)”, pp. 106-237 and Henze, Hans Werner: Bohemian Fifth. An Autobiography. Translated by Stewart Spencer , London 1998, esp. ch. 8-10).

Enzensberger writes about this in the premises:

"Noch weniger halten sich die ‘Erinnerungen an einen Tumult’ an die Standards der Dokumentation oder gar der Philologie. In den Jahren 1967–1970 hat es mir an Lust, Zeit und Interesse gefehlt, ein kontinuierliches Tagebuch zu führen. Übrigens kann niemand alles, was passiert, 1:1 darstellen. Dabei kommt das bekannte Landkartenparadox ins Spiel. Ein Lageplan, der so genau wäre wie das, was er abbildet, würde die Realität verdoppeln und wäre überflüssig. (Daran scheitern, nebenbei bemerkt, alle Machtphantasien, die von der totalen Überwachung träumen.) Also: caveat lector!

Auch der Mensch war mir fremd, den ich in den Papieren, die ich in meinem Keller fand, angetroffen habe. Dieses Ich war ein anderer. Ich sah nur eine Möglichkeit, mich ihm zu nähern: den Dialog mit einem Doppelgänger, der mir wie ein jüngerer Bruder vorkam, an den ich sehr lange Zeit nicht mehr gedacht hatte. Ich wollte ihn ausfragen. Doch war mir weder an einem Verhör noch an einer Beichte gelegen. Ob dieser knapp Vierzigjährige sich mit Schuldgefühlen oder Peinlichkeiten herumschlug, ob er recht oder unrecht hatte, war mir egal. Das war seine Sache. Damit mußte er selbst fertig werden. Das einzige, was mich interessierte, waren seine Antworten auf die Frage: Mein Lieber, was hast du dir bei alledem gedacht?" (Tumult, S. 106f.)

Henze introduces Chapter 8 of his autobiography (p. 232) with the following quote from Ingeborg Bachmann:

"Come hither, Bohemians one and all, seafarers, harbour whores and ships unanchored. Would you not be Bohemian, all you citizens of Illyria, Verona and Venice ... ... And though you err a hundred times, As I have erred and passed no tests, Yet have I passed them, now and then." Ingeborg Bachmann, ‘ Böhmen liegt am Meer ’, 1964"2

Characterisation of the relationship

In its core period from 1967 to 1975 the correspondence between Henze and Enzensberger documents a great understanding and genuine interest in the other person. There are no disagreements or even quarrels. Both reassure each other of their importance of the other, although the letters give the impression that Enzensberger was even more important to Henze than vice versa.

In any case, both appreciated the work they did together very much (HME to HWH 6. 6. 1975: “was für eine schöne arbeit war das!”). Nevertheless, the correspondence and contact broke off in the late 1970s and on 28 April 1981 Henze wrote: “it’s been a long time since we last exchanged letters, why did it actually stop?” and Enzensberger commented in retrospect: “Aber eines Tages, ich weiß nicht warum, war unsere Freundschaft erloschen, und wir haben nie wieder voneinander gehört.” (Tumult, S. 214)

Some of the topics of the correspondence

Henze and Enzensberger met at the meetings of Gruppe 47 (Group 47) meetings in the 1950s and have remained in loose contact ever since - possibly through Ingeborg Bachmann. Henze first mentions Enzensberger in his autobiography in 1957 (p. 143): Henze was writing a radio play for the Radio Essay department at the Süddeutscher Rundfunk in Stuttgart, which was headed at the time by Alfred Andersch at the time and whose collaborators were Enzensberger and Helmut Heißenbüttel. The letters mention a personal meeting in 1958 and the two probably also met during Enzensberger’s stay in Italy as a recipient of the Villa Massimo scholarship (of the German Academy in Rome) in 1959. Two letters by Henze have survived from 1960 concerning Enzensberger’s support for the translation of the libretto of Elegy for Young Lovers.

“Movement” (politics)

As Henze himself writes in his autobiography (p. 233), the closer contact between the two artists was triggered by the political events of 1967, specifically the demonstration against the Shah of Persia on 2 June 1967. Henze went to Berlin, met the leading figures of the student revolt in Enzensberger’s flat and immediately the way in which they addressed each other changed from the then customary “Sie”, even between young people, to the cooperative “Du”. Yet Henze and Enzensberger, aged 41 and 38 respectively, were among the “older” members of the “movement”.

While Henze saw himself primarily as a learner at the beginning of 1968 and was involved, for example, in the organisation of the Vietnam Congress in Berlin (cf. the letter dated 28 January 1968), Enzensberger experienced a major turning point right at the beginning of 1968: he gave up his scholarship in America and decided to join the “revolution” in Cuba,

"denn siehst du es ist nicht gut vom imperialismus immer nur zu reden. der ist so wirklich wie die telefonrechnung. dafür gehe ich im oktober nach cuba um dort zu arbeiten, für mindestens ein halbes jahr. es ist dort eine sehr schwierige aber atemberaubende revolution, eine revolution die noch imstande ist zu lernen und alles anders zu machen als vorher. außerdem ist habana herrlich. arm aber nicht bedrückt"
(letter dated 22 January 1968).

The theme of Cuba would determine the next few years, as their (respective) stays in Cuba (Enzensberger: October 1968 to the end of April 1969; Henze: 21 March to 16 April 1969 and 8 November 1969 to 28/29 January 1970; a further visit Henze had planned at the end of 1970 did not take place, as the letters from this period show) and their preoccupation with Cuban literature, music and politics would also determine their artistic collaboration (see below).

Occasional doubts about the “movement” and the revolution in Cuba, expressed as early as 1969, were consolidated in June 1971, after the arrest of the poet Heberto Padilla. Both, Enzensberger and Henze, together with numerous Western intellectuals, protested Padilla’s arrest, signing a telegram to Fidel Castro. They reacted with dismay to Padilla’s forced “confession” (cf. the letters dated 8 and 19 June 1971 and 9 July 1971).

Enzensberger had already publicly stated in mid-1972 that he would no longer visit America because of the Vietnam War. In the final phase of this war at the end of 1972/beginning of 1973, political statements feature more heavily in the letters.

Consequences of the “movement” for art

Right at the beginning of the correspondence, the significance of the “movement” for art, or conversely the significance of art for the “movement”, played a major role. On 22 January 1968 Enzensberger already mentioned a possible collaboration between the two:

"wir könnten zusammen etwas machen. es müßte etwas neues sein, das sommergedicht ist schon zwei jahre alt, wir sind nicht mehr dieselben die wir vor zwei jahren waren, jetzt muß man schon ganz anders reden."
. Here their thoughts - as is perhaps not surprising when a writer and a composer known primarily for his operas work together - immediately pointed in the direction of “opera”.

But turning to opera was also a ’political’ act:

"die besetzung der oper ist nicht nur ein akt der hoffnung, sondern auch ein akt der verzweiflung. die sie besetzen haben recht gegen die gesellschaftliche gestalt der kunst, wie sie heute dasteht. sie haben unrecht gegen ‘mozart selbst’ – aber unsere gesellschaft erlaubt keinen ‚mozart selbst‘ mehr. das verführt die revolutionäre zu einer art von barbarei. ohne revolution haben wir keine kultur mehr, nur ihr lügenhaftes abziehbild. ich fühle das so stark, daß ich keine gedichte mehr schreiben mag. ich sehe keinen ausweg aus diesem dilemma. die auswegslosigkeit unserer lage ist es, was die oper zeigen muß. also nicht rechtfertigung oder verdammung der oper, sondern unaufgelösten widerspruch, als ironie und als wirklicher kampf. am schwersten wird das zu zeigen sein bei der oper in der oper: denn dort muß die ganze sache wie im brennspiegel sich sammeln und konzentrieren. vielleicht so, daß man eine wirkliche oper (zauberflöte) nimmt und sie als zitat beginnen läßt, dann zunehmend deformiert, musikalisch und dramatisch, bis zur unmöglichkeit weiterzuspielen. so ein verfahren würde klarmachen, daß es nicht an mozart liegt, sondern an uns und unserer lage. was hältst du davon? ist das musikalisch und fruchtbar?"
(HME to HWH, 5 September 1968)

Further reflections on the opera went into the (preparatory) work and the work on “ La Cubana ” (see below).


At the end of the work on this Vaudeville (mid 1972), there is an exchange about the “avant-garde”, with which Henze had already had to contend as a composer from the very beginning. Enzensberger writes to Henze on 1 August 1972:

"Ich bin immer weniger geneigt mir meine Vorliebe für Inhalte vorwerfen zu lassen und die Vorschriften des Kulturlebens einzuhalten. Je mehr Leute sich mit unsern Sachen unterhalten umso besser. Je mehr in dem was wir machen passiert, vorkommt, sich regt umso besser. Im Schauhaus der Avantgarden bringe ich keine Minute mehr freiwillig zu. Dort, meine ich, sollten wir auch das schlechte Gewissen zurücklassen das uns einzureden man nicht müde wird. Es kann schon sein daß wir nicht mehr zu retten sind – aber wenn, dann durch Selbstzensur auf keinen Fall, auch nicht durch die handelsüblichen Selbsttäuschungen. So denke ich und stelle fest, daß mir in dieser Geistesverfassung mehr einfällt als sonst."
And Henze replies on 12 August:
"es gefällt mir, was Du sagst über das schauhaus der avantgarden wo wir unser schlechtes gewissen zurücklassen sollen. ich wollte das meine eigentlich einem kräftigen südwind anvertrauen um gar nichts mehr zurückzulassen, aber wenn Du willst, lege ich es auch im schauhaus der avantgarden nieder. es ist politischer. ich hab ja schon oft versucht, mich zu befreien, man ist dann sehr isoliert allerdings, braucht dringend einige gute freunde."

On 25 July 1974, Enzensberger then writes:

"Ich habe mehrere Projekte, will auch Poesie machen. Ich habe den Gewerbe- und Dienstleistungsbetrieb hier satt, habe Berlin satt und gedenke, in Zukunft weniger Meinungen und dafür mehr Kunst zu machen. Das sage ich ganz schamlos."

Collaborative works

El Cimarrón (1968-1971)

On 19 June 1968, Enzensberger referred to El Cimarrón for the first time, although it is formulated in the letter as if Henze and Enzensberger had already spoken to each other about the material beforehand:

"andererseits ist die arbeit, wie ich jetzt sehe, schwieriger als ich dachte. sie wird etwa einen monat in anspruch nehmen. die geschichte ist aber ungeheuer, und sie ist für deinen zweck wunderbar geeignet. ich will mich also, wenn du es wünschst, bald an diese arbeit machen. du könntest den text dann im sommer komponieren."
Unfortunately, the following letters do not provide any further information, i.e. in this case Enzensberger really seems to have compiled the texts from Miguel Barnet’s novel and Henze then set them to music without requesting any changes. The conception of this unusual “recital for four musicians” is not discussed in the letters either. Only Christopher Keene’s translation is mentioned in October 1970. Henze also reports on the reactions of individual friends and on the reception of the music in Cuba and mentions the preparations for several performances.

Further literature on the creation of El Cimarrón:
Henneberg, Claus H.: El Cimarrón. Ein Werkbericht, Mainz 1971.

2nd Violin Concerto (1971–1972)

Henze’s attention was drawn to Enzensberger’s poem “Hommage à Gödel” by their mutual friend Gaston Salvatore. Interestingly, Henze formulated the concept of the concerto before he had even read the poem (cf. the letter dated 15 February 1971). Enzensberger must have agreed very quickly and Henze composed the 2nd Violin Concerto as early as the summer of 1971:

"über das violinkonzert und die art, wie ich Dein wunderbares Gödel-Gedicht (das mir wie ein kommentar zu ‘staat und revolution’ vorkommt) darin verwendet habe, schreibe oder erzähle ich Dir. es ist noch nicht ganz fertig."
(cf. letter date 8 June 1971) Afterwards, the concerto only features a role in the correspondence because of the translation of the text and in relation to the first performances.

Voices (1969–1973)

Henze expressed the first ideas for the later song cycle “Voices” as early as 26 June 1969:

"Merkwürdigerweise kriege ich, während ich sie [= die 6. Sinfonie] schreibe, Lust auf andere Sachen. Z. B. Lieder auf cubanische Gedichte (Padilla, Barnet, von Letzterem Fé de Erratas, und para vestir el sueño de las hojas) weiss nicht ob auf deutsch oder auf Spanisch, aber könntest Du mir, in einer Minute des völligen Otium, 10 bis 12 solche Gedichte vorschlagen, vielleicht gar sie schicken (in zwei Sprachen – ?) damit ich sehen kann?"

The genesis of the cycle from this first idea to its final form with its 17 songs cannot be traced from the correspondence between the two, although Henze did not lose sight of the subject (cf. the letter dated 3 February 1971). It was not until 1973 that Enzensberger once again intervened in the conception:

"Ich habe über deinen Zyklus nachgedacht, und es scheint mir nach wie vor, daß ihm ein Moment von Selbstreflexion, voire von Selbstkritik fehlt. Außerdem vermisse ich eine Prise Anarchismus darin. Beides enthält, wenn du mich fragst, der Text den ich dir heute schicke."
(cf. the letter dated 23 March 1973).

After Enzensberger sent Henze his version of Michaelis Katsaros’ poem Schluß, the cycle took its final shape and at the end of October 1973 Henze reported the completion of the composition: “Wenn Du das Blumenfest [Gedicht von Enzensberger, das am Schluss des Zyklus‘ steht] gehört hast wirst, nein musst Du mich lieben!” (HWH to HME 23 October 1973)

La Cubana (1968–1975)

By far the largest part of the correspondence, however, deals with La Cubana or the first ideas for a new opera (see above):

"ich wär gern dabei. denke nicht an eine ‘handlung’ sondern an handlungen, sehr viele handlungen, unterbrochen von grellen blitzen, monologisierenden rezitativen (zb mit ausschnitten aus der verteidigungsrede debarys [sic] vor dem bolivianischen gericht); dazwischen grobe reime (‘lyrics’ in der manier des englsichen [sic] musiktheaters); lärmstellen; die ‘kultur’ wird verwiesen auf goldgerahmte kontrastarien mit poetischem text – da wird unsere selbstkritik, literarisch und musikalisch – wenn sie wollen, unser abschied von unserer bisherigen arbeit – wie lange darf diese ‚oper‘ werden?"
(HME to HWH 22 January 1968)

The public medium of television, for which both had already worked, seems to have been thought as an outlet for the opera early on in the piece:

"das TV-ding stelle ich mir vor als pseudooper – in wirklichkeit sollten wir, denke ich, eine Ausstellung machen: Oper als welt-ausstellung. politiker im käfig. molotovcocktail. anonyme helden."
(5. 3. 1968) On 7 June 1968 Henze and Enzensberger sent a synopsis to RAI. But then the project stalled and doubts arose (cf. the letters of September 1968). On 26 June 1969 Henze wrote to Enzensberger:
"gestern war ich also bei der RAI, Borelli ist jetzt in einem anderen ‘organismo’, aber ich sah ihn doch, er übergab mich und unseren Fall seinem Nachfolger (der Dich heute anrufen wollte) ich schilderte La Canción de Rachel und erntete grosses Erstaunen. Wie, Enzensberger und ich, engagierte Leute, wollen plötzlich von ihrem verwegenen Projekt zurück zu leichtem Spiel? Es war wie ein Vorwurf, kommend von Leuten der Rechten (wahrscheinlich) und ich liess in die Pause des Schocks die trefflichen? Worte fallen: Ci sia consentito di tanto in tanto.
Erleichterung war zu spüren, es hiess auch, die anderen Sender wären sicherlich entzückt, sei doch der Grund für die langen Verzögerungen der Praktiken nicht nur in unseren ausgedehnten Auslandsreisen, sondern auch in der Unruhe einiger der Eurovision-Teilnehmer zu finden gewesen. Nun würde sicher alles recht hurtig vonstatten gehen."

This outlines the initial situation in relation to La Cubana, and the Enzensberger-Henze correspondence is a kind of working diary of this work3. Henze writes after the completion of the composition on 26 September 1972:

"habe auch gedacht dass unser briefwechsel eine ganz muntere und unterhaltsam-lehrreiche lektüre sein könnte. hast Du meine briefe aufgehoben? (ich hab ja keine Kopien davon) und ich habe natürlich die Deinen aufgehoben alle, schon von den ersten anfängen der Rachel-idee. vielleicht könnte es ein hübsches Buch ergeben, und es wäre für uns völlig mühelos. denk mal darüber nach."

Therefore, only the most important stages of the work’s genesis, as revealed in the letters, will be summarised here:

  • End of 1969: Completion of the synopsis for the Vaudeville. Henze receives it on 12 January 1970.
  • End of December 1970: conversation about La Cubana in Marino. A text was ready for this. The incorporation of the discussed changes was delayed until August 1971
  • In the meantime, the play was no longer to be produced with RAI but with NET. The contract with NET was signed by Henze on 8 June 1971, the signing with Enzensberger was postponed; it was not until 1 March 1972 that the conclusion of all contracts (also with Schott) was reported, but there were still follow-up negotiations with NET.
  • Completion of the composition in September 1972.
  • Production of the television film for NET: mid-November to shortly before Christmas 1972.
  • Consideration of the venue for the stage version, the premiere of which finally took place on 28 May 1975 at the Gärtnerplatztheater in Munich.
  • Radio version on WDR 1982

After completing work on the premiere film, Henze wrote to Enzensberger on 14 December 1972:

"anyway, der grund dieses briefes ist aber der, dass ich Dir sagen möchte, dass unser stück sehr gut ist! und dass es allen schauspielern und sängern sehr gefällt. weil jede szene, jeder satz, jede situation ganz ungewöhnlich gut funktioniert, nicht als kalt ‚gemachtes‘ theater sondern als direkte wirkung, ganz rührend und bewegend, und als wahrheit, einfache wahrheit herauskommend. es hat mich, zugegeben, überrascht, ich hätte es in diesem masse nicht für möglich gehalten! Du vielleicht auch nicht. ich habe den eindruck, dass La Cubana etwas ganz neuartiges ist, dass es so etwas noch nie gegeben hat. auch die musik hat so etwas (u.a. auch einen qualitativen sprung: nach vorn) auch sie macht den leuten spass. und überdies ist das Ganze sehr ‚links‘ viel mehr (vielleicht) als wir gewollt haben."

The surviving sources of La Cubana

It is beyond the scope of the editorial work on the correspondence to critically review the sources for “La Cubana” and thus to clearly establish whether versions of the libretto referred to in the correspondence have survived. Where this was possible, it is noted in the comments. The following sources can be traced.

Deutsches Literaturarchiv Marbach: Enzensberger, Hans Magnus:
2 folders about “La Cubana”, the first labeled “Vorstufen” and the second with a note by Enzensberger: “Erste Fassung / 1974 | Kurze Fassung / 1991 | Englische Version (TV) WNET New York.” The library has already noted that documents on these subjects are not included in the folder. According to the archive sheet music editions of “La Cubana” have not been preserved there. The folders contain, in this order:

  • Preliminary stages, synopses, overviews of “Andiamo all’opera,” “L’opera occupata,” and “Rachel’s Song” (1968/1969)
  • Typescript: “Ay, Rachel!” with “Konspekt der Handlung” (conspectus of the plot) and then a version of the libretto with numerous corrections by HME
  • Typescript “¡Ay, Rachel! | Vaudeville von Hans Magnus Enzensberger | nach Motiven von Miguel Barnet | Musik von Hans Werner Henze” (¡Ay, Rachel! | Vaudeville by Hans Magnus Enzensberger | based on motifs by Miguel Barnet | music by Hans Werner Henze). This typescript contains a copyright notice by Enzensberger and is dated 1970/1971. It is a copy with changing paper types and some inserted blank leaves. The leaves are numbered from 2-56, with some corrected pagination. This is a clean copy with few handwritten corrections.
  • Additional copy of this version starting on p. 3, missing pages 19-25, 28-29, and 36-42. This copy contains some corrections in ball pen. A sheet with the index of characters, counted as sheet 2, has survived separately. In addition, a sheet labeled “Musikliste” in Enzensberger’s hand has survived.
  • In Folder 2, a working copy has survived that was written on different typewriters and partly glued together again. This contains numerous corrections in red and blue, including, for example, the change from “Chorus” to “Chanson” and the change of the caravan duet bcoming a tercet, which Henze addresses in his letter of June 5, 1972. Enzensberger dated this typescript “Written 1969-1970”.

Paul Sacher Stiftung Basel: Hans Werner Henze Collection:

  • Typescript entitled “Rachels Erzählungen” (Rachel’s Tales), 7 pages, signed by Enzensberger: “Stand vom (Status from) 1.11.1970 | con cariño m.”.
  • Incomplete copy of the libretto bound in Henze’s short score. The typescript is entitled “Ach, Rachel! [korrigiert von Henze zu La Cubana] | Vaudeville von Hans Magnus Enzensberger | nach Motiven von Miguel Barnet | Musik von Hans Werner Henze” (Ach, Rachel! [which Henze amended to “La Cubana”] | Vaudeville by Hans Magnus Enzensberger | based on motifs by Miguel Barnet | music by Hans Werner Henze) and bears the note: “Copyright 1970 by Hans Magnus Enzensberger”. In his letters from this period, when Henze states that he was working on the composition of “La Cubana”, he probably refers to this typescript of the libretto.
  • English text in the translation by Neville and Stephen Plaice with the title “’La Cubana’ | Vaudeville in five sketches by | Hans Magnus Enzensberger | adapted from motifs by Miguel Barnet | Music by | Hans Werner Henze”. The copy does not contain any notes.

Further literature on the creation of La Cubana:
Henze, Hans Werner: “Ein Vaudeville”, in: Festschrift für einen Verleger. Ludwig Strecker zum 90. Geburtstag, ed. by Carl Dahlhaus, Mainz 1973, pp. 29-36 (also in: Hans Werner Henze, Musik und Politik. Schriften und Gespräche 1955-1975, Munich 1976, pp. 203–212.

Irmlind Capelle
Detmold, june 2023

We thank the heirs of Hans Magnus Enzensberger and the Hans Werner Henze Foundation (Dr. Michael Kerstan) most sincerely for the permission to publish these letters.


  1. 1See for example the letter dated 3 September 1972
  2. 2This poem by Ingeborg Bachmann has a special connection to this time, as she published it together with three others in Kursbuch 15 (November 1968), in which Enzensberger published the first excerpts of El Cimarrón in German.
  3. 3Because of the direct reference of the letters to each other, the commentary refrains from proving this again in detail, especially since Henze and Enzensberger themselves indicate very clearly which passage in the other’s letter or in the work they are referring to.


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