1928 - 2007
Horst Gehann, a versatile musician living in Germany, was a concert organist, harpsichordist, conductor, composer, and publisher. He was one of the main contributors to the German Seventh-day Adventist Hymnal, Wir loben Goft, published by the Hamburg Publishing House in 1982, composing original hymn tunes and harmonizing others.
Horst was born in Frankfurt, Germany, on November 27, 1928. At the age of five, his father introduced him to music, teaching him theory, violin, and mandolin. While still very young, he began playing in a family quartet and in an amateur orchestra conducted by his father. After the family moved to Reichenberg-Liberec, in the Czech region of Sudetes, he continued music studies in local music schools. In 1938 his family moved to Romania, where he furthered his musical training with Franz Xaver Dressler, a student of Karl Straube.
He studied theology, biology, and music at the Biblical Institute in Stupini, Brassov in 1948-49, while taking private music lessons from Viktor Bickerich, and then in Bucharest, at the Adventist Theological Seminary from 1952-54. One year before graduation he was hired as music teacher at the Seminary. While in Bucharest, Gehann studied composition with Mihail Jora, a student of Max Reger. In1955, he passed his examination and was listed as a First Class Concert Organist.
Shortly after this, however, Gehann became the subject of religious and political persecution. His teaching license was revoked by the Ministry of Religious Affairs and his right to perform in public, even as a church choir director, was suspended for several years by the Ministry of Culture. Both ministries were under the influence of the Secret Police, who dictated the policies of all organizations. One stipulation was that all concert organists had to be Communist Party members, which he was not. This and his activity as a church musician were offenses.
In 1965, during a time of relative political relaxation in Romania, Gehann founded the Pro Musica Chamber Chorus and Instrumental Ensemble in Bucharest. They performed many sacred and secular choral works in all of the major concert halls in Bucharest, on Radio and Television, and toured throughout Romania. Starting in 1966, because of the intervention of foreign diplomats, Gehann was able to tour abroad as a concert organist. He was appointed concert pianist/organist with the Ploiesti State Philharmonic for 1967-1968.
In 1972, the deteriorating political climate in Romania led Gehann to return to Germany, a move made possible through the intervention of then German President, Gustav Heinemann, with Romanian President Ceausescu. In spite of the difficulties, the legacy of Gehann's musical activity in Romania is still remembered and felt today in that country.
On his arrival in Germany, Gehann was given a teaching position at the Adventist Theological Seminary in Marienhohe, Darmstadt, which he would hold from 1973 to1984. He immediately founded the Marienhohe Chamber Choir which toured throughout Germany, as well as in France, England, and the United States from 1974-1984.
In 1980 and 1981 Gehann founded the Pro Musica Chamber Orchestra and the Bach Choir in Darmstadt, for the sole purpose of presenting public performances of the complete works of J. S. Bach. He would conduct over 90 concerts in several European countries of Bach's music, including nine performances of the Mass in B minor.
He adjudicated numerous music festivals and guest conducted symphony orchestras throughout Germany and abroad. As a concert organist, Gehann performed in twenty countries, on many radio and television broadcasts, and recorded over 20 records and CD's.
Gehann composed over 70 works, writing in many genres, including music for choir and voice, organ and piano, and chamber groups and orchestra. His writings ranged in style from Romanticism through bi- and poly-tonality to atonality, his later works embracing a free tonal approach. His works are published by Breitkopf & Hartel, Hanssler, Saatkorn-Verlag, and Advent-Verlag.
For ten years, Gehann was President of the South-East Division of the Institute for German Music in Eastern Europe, an organization that promotes the music of German and East European composers and folk music. An outgrowth this activity, was the establishing by Gehann, in 1987, of a publishing company, Gehann-Musik-Verlag, that specializes in promoting and printing music by German composers located in 20 regions in Eastern Europe. They have also printed musicological and other related studies. A six-volume Anthology of Sacred Works represents the company's most significant editorial output to date.
Gehann was living in Lude Bach, Germany, when he died, of cancer on June 21, 2007, at age 78. He was survived by his wife and two children.
Sources: Wayne H. Hooper and Edward E. White, Companion to the Seventh-day Adventist Hymnal, 1988, Review and Herald Publishing Association, 530; Atlantic Union Gleaner, 22 March, 8; “Chamber Singers from Germany to Sing in New York City,“ Greg Rumsey, “Chamber Singers from Germany Visit Denver,” Central Union Reaper, pg.12; Joyce Wiseman, “Marienhohe Seminary Chamber Singers, Atlantic Union Gleaner, June 28, 1977, 8 and 28 June, 8, 1977; Wikipedia, 2012. Johannes Killyen and Karl Teutsch, “Horst Gehann: Creator of a multifarious and rich work,” Siebenbürgische Zeitung, issue 11, July 15, 2007, 8; Raymond F. Cottrell, “The Day in Vienna,” Review and Herald, July 31, 1975, 2; Edward E. White, “1,200 Gather at Marienhoehe for Jubilee Celebration,” Review and Herald, December 26, 1974, 20.