Carl Orff’s chosen one has died at 89

Carl Orff’s chosen one has died at 89


norman lebrecht

August 22, 2017

The death has been announced of Wilhelm Killmayer, a post-War private student of Carl Orff who persuaded him to devote his life to composition. Living in Munich, Killmayer was music director of the outstanding ensemble of Bavarian State Opera from 1961 to 1964.

His works include three symphonies and much vocal music.

He died on August 20.

Appreciation here.


  • Olassus says:

    … and Yolimba, oder Die Grenzen der Magie.

  • Another Has-been says:

    Killmayer cannot possibly have been Music Director of the Bavarian State Opera from 1961-64 as Joseph Keilberth held that post from 1959 until his death in 1968.

    I believe Killmayer conducted ballet performances at the BSO.

  • Peter says:

    “Wilhelm Killmayer wurde am 21. August 1927 in München geboren. Seine Kindheit verbrachte er zunächst in Mitterndorf bei Dachau, nach dem Tod des Vaters dann in München. Ab dem sechsten Lebensjahr erhielt er regelmäßigen Klavierunterricht. Nach dem Abitur studierte er am Münchner Musikseminar von Hermann Wolfgang von Waltershausen Dirigieren und Komposition (1945-1951). Parallel zu Musikwissenschaftskursen bei Rudolf von Ficker und Walter Riezler nahm er Privatunterricht bei Carl Orff (1951-1953) und besuchte anschließend dessen Meisterklasse an der Staatlichen Musikhochschule in München (1953/54). Ab 1955 unterrichtete Killmayer Musiktheorie und Kontrapunkt am Trappschen Konservatorium in München, von 1961 bis 1964 arbeitete er als Ballettdirigent an der Bayerischen Staatsoper. Nach zwei Romstipendien in der Villa Massimo (1958 und 1965/66) übersiedelte Killmayer 1968 nach Frankfurt a. M., wo er als freischaffender Komponist lebte. 1973 berief ihn die Staatliche Hochschule für Musik in München zum Professor für Komposition. Seit seiner Emeritierung im Jahr 1992 lebt Killmayer abwechselnd in München und am Chiemsee.”
    read more at :

  • John Borstlap says:

    The music in this video sounds like someone who is very angry about the classical tradition, or who suffers gravely because of its demise in terms of contemporary music in postwar Germany. It is like cutting an existing old painting in pieces and then glue them together randomly.

    Another example of a post-apocalyptic Killmayer soundscape:

    More so than Stockhausen, Killmayer lets hear the soul of postwar Germany.

    Another reaction upon that catastrophe was written just after the war by a very old man as an atonement for his complicity, filling an ‘old idiom’ with the new life of a presentiment of a better world:

    There seems to be a lesson there, but which was not picked-up.

    • Never Mind the Bollix says:

      It is all complete bollix to me, can no one compose summat you would actually want to listen to or play your self these days? Just wait till the year 3000 and look back at all this shite I wonder if the muzak will be any better, beyond 3000 AD nope. Just more of the same old boring shite.

  • Michael Endres says:

    Wonderful composer, and as a pianist I am especially grateful for those truly unique and scurile Nocturnes for piano.
    It consider it a great privilege having studied at the very academy were he was teaching composition. He had a unique and very distinguishable style, and his music has often a lyrical quality, which was quite a counterpoint to the mainstream trend in those days.
    Here is a cool little piece for cello and piano. Composition in postwar Germany wasn’t all doom and gloom so it seems…