Helmut Roloff

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Helmut Roloff (1940s)

Helmut Roloff (9 October 1912 – 29 September 2001) was a German pianist and teacher.

Roloff was born in Giessen where his father was a university history professor who was a staunch anti-Nazi. Roloff entered the Hochschule für Musik in Berlin (now the Universität der Künste Berlin, Fakultät 3) in 1935, studying with Richard Rüssler. He also studied privately with Wladimir Horbowski in 1938.

CIC file ref. Helmut Roloff (about 1947)

During the Second World War he worked with The Schulze-Boysen / Harnack Organization, one of the resistance groups known as the Rote Kapelle between 1940 and 1942, and was arrested by Gestapo together with other members of the group in 1943. He claimed that he was unaware of the anti-Nazi activities of his friends, and that they had only met to listen to music. His friends in the Rote Kapelle did not betray him either, even under torture, and he was released for lack of evidence.

In 1945 he was appointed to the newly established Universität der Künste Berlin (HfM) where he taught and, in 1970, became director until his retirement in 1978. He continued to live in Berlin, where he died in 2001. He is survived by his wife, Inge Roloff and his sons, Stefan Roloff (filmmaker), Ulrich Roloff (flutist), and Johannes Roloff (pianist).


  • Kater, Michael H. The Twisted Muse: Musicians and their music in the third reich. New York & Oxford, 1997; Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-509620-7. Pages 224-5

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