Bernhard Heiden (b. Frankfurt-am-Main, August 24, 1910; d. Bloomington, IN, April 30, 2000) was a German and American composer and music teacher, who studied under and was heavily influenced by Paul Hindemith. Bernhard Heiden, the son of Ernst Levi and Martha (Heiden-Heimer) was originally named Bernhard Levi, but he later changed his name.
Heiden was born in Frankfurt-am-Main in Germany and quickly became interested in music, composing his first pieces when he was six. When he began formal music lessons he learned music theory in addition to three instruments, piano, clarinet, and violin. Heiden entered the Hochschule für Musik in Berlin in 1929 at the age of nineteen and studied music composition under Paul Hindemith, the leading German composer of his day. His last year at the Hochschule brought him the Mendelssohn Prize in Composition.
In 1934 Heiden married Cola de Joncheere, a former student at the Hochschule that had been in his class, and in 1935 they emigrated to Detroit to leave Nazi Germany. Heiden taught on the staff of the Art Center Music School for eight years; during his teaching career he conducted the Detroit Chamber Orchestra in addition to giving piano, harpsichord, and general chamber music recitals. After having been naturalized as a United States citizen in 1941 he entered the army in 1943 to become an Assistant Bandmaster. After the close of World War II Heiden entered Cornell University and received his M.A. two years later. He then joined the staff of the Indiana University School of Music, where he served as chair of the composition department until 1974. He remained composing music up until his death at the age of 89 in 2000.
Heiden’s music is described by Nicolas Slonimsky, another composer, as “neoclassical in its formal structure, and strongly polyphonic in texture; it is distinguished also by its impeccable formal balance and effective instrumentation.” Much of Heiden’s music is for either wind or string chamber groups or solo instruments with piano, though he also wrote two symphonies, an opera (“The Darkened City”), a ballet (“Dreamers on a Slack Wire”), and vocal and incidental music for poetry and several of Shakespeare’s plays.
His notable students include Donald Erb and Frederick Fox.
Opera and Ballet
Dreamers on a Slack Wire (1953)
The Darkened City (1962)
Symphony No. 2 (1954)
Concerto for Piano, Violin, Violoncello and Orchestra (1956)
Euphorion: Scene for Orchestra (1967)
Concertino for String Orchestra (1967)
Diversion for Alto Saxophone and Band
Sonata for Alto Saxophone and Piano (1937)
Sonata for Viola and Piano (1959)
Quintet for French Horn and String Quartet (1952)
American Music for Saxophone – Mark Custom Recording Service, Inc., 2006
Postcards from the Center – Crystal Records, 1993
Bridges to Bloomington – Crystal Records, 1994
Sonatas by Beethoven, Hindemith and Heiden – Crystal Records, 1993