Heinz Tiessen (Königsberg, April 10, 1887 – Berlin, november 29, 1971), German composer who studied in his hometown with composer Erwin Kroll before moving to Berlin. There, he enrolled at Humboldt University and at the 'Stern'sches Konservatorium', where he studied composition and music theory. He worked as a music critic for the 'Allgemeine Musikzeitung' from 1911 to 1917 before becoming a theater 'Kapellmeister' and composer for the 'Freie Volksbühne' in 1918.
From 1920 to 1922, he conducted the 'Akademische Orchester' and between 1925 and 1945, he taught music theory and composition at the 'Berliner Musikhochschule'. He also co-founded the German division of the ISCM (International Society for Contemporary Music) and served as conductor of the 'Junger Chor'.
The years under Hitler are described in Michael Haas' book 'Forbidden Music' (see bibliography) :
Though Tiessen was a vehement anti-Nazi, a former member of the 'November Group', denounced as a 'cultural Bolshevik', and had performances of his music banned in 1933, he also served on the jury of the Olympic Music Competition in 1936. Tiessen had been brought in as the conspicious dissenting voice to give an appearance of balance to international critics. The paradox was that having been removed from various positions, participation on the jury was one of his only sources of income, leaving him severely compromised following the defeat of Nazism. It goes without saying that he never considered joining the Nazi Party, though incredibly they allowed him to remain composition professor at the Berlin Music Academy.
After World War II, he almost completely stopped composing. From 1946 to 1949 he directed the City Conservatory (the former 'Stern'schs Konservatorium')and from 1949 until 1955, he headed the department of composition and theory at the 'Berliner Musikhochschule'. His best-known pupils were Eduard Erdmann and Sergiu Celibidache.
During the last years of his life he started composing again.
Bibl. Michael Haas : Forbidden Music, The Jewish Composers banned by the Nazis
Yale University Press,