Bernd Alois Zimmermann, composition sketches

The most informative sources in the bequest of Bernd Alois Zimmermann include – in addition to very extensive correspondence – the many surviving documents on the creation of his compositions. The outlines and drafts of works such as Dialoge, Présence and Concerto en forme de “pas de trois” show the huge amount of work the composer put into preparing his “pluralistic” creations of the 1960s: from deriving all of the musical parameters from proportion arrangements to outlines that are still far from the definitive structure to ascertaining the texture in the particell for the first time.


born on 20 March 1918 in Bliesheim – died on 10. August 1970 in Großkönigsdorf

1938-1947 Studied school music at the School of Music in Cologne, 1940-1941 Wehrmacht soldier in France, Poland and Russia; from 1946 worked as a freelance composer; 1949 first contact with serial music during the Darmstadt Summer Courses; creation of orchestral works, instrumental concertos, piano and chamber music as well as numerous arrangements and radio play scores for the Cologne radio stations of Nordwestdeutscher Rundfunk and for Westdeutscher Rundfunk; 1958 composition teacher at the School of Music in Cologne and director of the seminar for radio play and film music; 1965 member of the Akademie der Künste, Berlin; in the same year, completed the opera Die Soldaten and in 1969 Requiem für einen jungen Dichter, which has since been considered a key work for multimedia-oriented music.

Archive and collection

Sheet music manuscripts, including for the concerto for violins and large orchestra and for Ekklesiastische Aktion, outlines, including for Die Soldaten and Requiem für einen jungen Dichter; performance material, including for Konzert für Orchester; manuscripts of articles and reviews as well as the dissertation fragments; biographical documents; newspaper reviews; programmes and photographs; recordings of his works.

An important complement to the bequest is the Schott collection, which contains the sheet music manuscripts for may important works including for Canto di speranza, Perspektiven, Monologe, Die Soldaten”, Intercomunicazione, Photoptosis and Stille und Umkehr.

History of the holdings

The starting point for developing the Bernd Alois Zimmermann Archive was the acquisition of the bequest preserved by Zimmermann’s widow Sabine von Schablowsky in 1989. The following year, the handwritten scores in the possession of Zimmerman’s publisher Schott was added. Since then, numerous collections have been added to the holdings from private and institutional ownership.