Hugo Distler studied music at Leipzig Conservatory. In 1931 he became a church organist at Lubeck, and he served on the faculty of the conservatory there from 1933 to 1937. His early training and his time as a church organist determined his compositional style, which is very polyphonic and reveals deep religious sensibility. Distler’s most significant body of work is in the genres of choral and organ music, both sacred and secular. It was Distler’s religious intensity that brought him to the attention of Germany’s Nazi leadership, which viewed his music as “degenerate.” Distler committed suicide at age 34. It had been widely believed that he took his own life rather than succumb to Nazi pressures; however, recent scholarship, based on the release of his papers following his wife’s death, casts some doubt on this theory.
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