Ernst Hermann Meyer

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Ernst Hermann Meyer.

Ernst Hermann Ludimar Meyer (December 8, 1905 – October 8, 1988) was a German composer and musicologist.

Meyer was a significant composer and musicologist, his works include numerous songs, as well as chamber music, two sinfonies and other works for orchestra, an opera and an oratorio. He has written numerous musicological articles, and an important book on English chamber music. His pupils included Serge Hovey. As a musicologist he edited numerous manuscripts by English composers of the Tudor/Renaissance period (see e.g. Englische Fantasien aus dem 17. Jahrhundert : für drei Streichinstrumente = English fantasias from the 17th century : for three string instruments, OCLC 2757300).


Meyer was born in Berlin. He received his first piano lessons at the age of six, and started composing at the age of eleven. After finishing school he worked as an apprentice at a bank, and in 1926 he started studying music at Heidelberg University, where in 1930, he completed his PhD on the 17th century chamber music of North German composers. He became a pupil of Hanns Eisler. Being a Jew, to avoid detention by the Nazi Party he emigrated to the United Kingdom in 1933, where he became a close friend of Alan Bush one year later. In the UK he researched English chamber music of the 17th century and lectured for the Workers Educational Association. In 1939 He started lecturing at Bedford College, London and in 1945 he was given a guest professorship at King's College, Cambridge.
He returned to East Germany (GDR) in 1948 and became one of the most influential figures of music culture in the GDR. He was also active politically as a communist and his works include choral, orchestral and chamber music in a style of passionate commitment to the ideals of Marx-Leninist ideals. In 1982 the second edition of his book 'Early English Chamber music' was published. Meyer was head of the German Society of Composers and Musicologists, professor of musicology at the Berlin Humboldt University, chairman of the German Handel Society and founder of the annual Handel Festival, which is still celebrated in Halle, Germany.



In addition to over 300 songs, and other orchestral and vocal works:

  • Symphony for Strings (1947)
  • Mansfeld Oratorio (1950)
  • String Quartett in G Nr. 1 (1956)
  • String Quartett Nr. 2 (1959)
  • Poem for Viola and Orchestra (1961)
  • Concerto for Violin and Orchestra (1964)
  • Symphony in B (1967)
  • String Quartett Nr. 3 (1967)
  • Concerto for Harp and Chamber Orchestra (1968)
  • Leinefelder Divertimento (1969)
  • Toccata for Orchestra (1971)
  • Reiter der Nacht (Opera, 1972)
  • Concerto for Viola and Orchestra (1978)
  • Sonata for Viola and Piano (1979)
  • Essay for Viola Solo (1983)


In addition to a large amount of papers and essays:

  • "Die mehrstimmigie Spielmusik des 17. Jahrhunderts in Nord- und Mitteleuropa", Heidelberg 1930
  • "English chamber music, the history of a great art from the middle ages to Purcell", London 1946 (OCLC 420311)

Further reading[edit]

  • Gur, Golan. 2015. "Classicism as Anti-Fascist Heritage: Realism and Myth in Ernst Hermann Meyer’s Mansfelder Oratorium (1950)." In: Kyle Frackman and Larson Powell (ed.), Classical Music in the German Democratic Republic: Production and Reception. Rochester: Camden House, pp. 34-57