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“True improvisation, at least in my experience, is possible only if one hungers for it… This yearning for and delight in the unforeseen will originate spontaneously or not at all… It is not a matter of technical prowess, but of expressive powers.”
Herbert Henck was born in Treysa, Hessen, in 1948 and studied in Mannheim, Stuttgart and Cologne, where he took a performance degree in 1975. As well as a prolific recording career, which has focused almost exclusively on 20th-century music, he has written extensively on modern music, including a study of Karlheinz Stockhausen’s Klavierstück X (۱۹۷۶).
His albums for ECM New Series include explorations of the work of several lesser-known 20th-century composers, such as Barraqué, Nancarrow, Antheil, Mompou, Otte, Trepulka, Hannenheim and Mosolov, and have drawn rave reviews from the international press.
His recordings of the piano works of John Cage have also been very well received; his revelatory 2002 recording of the Early Piano Music was described as “exemplary” by The American Record Guide. An earlier two CD release paired Cage’s Sonatas and Interludes with Henck’s own improvisations (Festeburger Fantasien, named for the church in which they were recorded). Raymond Tuttle’s review described Henck’s improvisations as “a fascinating portrait of the pianist as a composer/improviser”.
In early May 2007 Henck was awarded a special prize from the Ernst von Siemens Foundation.