HUGO DISTLER birth centennial

24 JUNE 1908 Birth of German composer and organist Hugo DISTLER in Nuremberg. d-Berlin, 1 NOV 1942. He is known mostly for his church choral music. He attended Leipzig Conservatory first as a conducting student with piano as his secondary subject, but changing later, on the advice of his teacher, to composition and organ. He became organist at St. Jacobi in Lübeck in 1931. He also taught at the School for Church Music in Spandau, and became a professor of church music in Stuttgart in 1940.
Becoming increasingly depressed from the death of friends, aerial attacks, job pressures, and the constant threat of conscription into the German army, he committed suicide in Berlin at the age of 34. He chose to end his life by his own hand (with fumes from his own gas oven) rather than be conscripted by the Nazis into the German armed forces. His work is polyphonic and frequently melismatic, often based on the pentatonic scale. Because of these characteristics, his work was stigmatized by the Nazis as "degenerate art."